Olympics: London poised for lavish curtain-raiser
The London Olympics was set to burst into life Friday with a lavish and colourful opening ceremony whose contents have remained a closely guarded secret.
A fly-past by the famous Red Arrows formation jets and the striking of the world’s biggest tuned bell are expected to start the extravaganza masterminded by Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle at 8:12 pm, or 2012 (1912 GMT).
About 80,000 spectators and VIPs, including about 80 world leaders and US First Lady Michelle Obama, packed Olympic Stadium for the show, which will feature the traditional athletes’ march and the Queen declaring the Games open.
Other elements of the three-and-a-half-hour showpiece have remained under wraps but soccer icon David Beckham will feature, plus James Bond and ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney — and even Britain’s National Health Service.
The opening ceremony, costing £27 million (US$42 million) and watched by more than one billion TV viewers worldwide, kicks off a two-week festival of sport which has been seven years and billions of pounds in the making.
It follows China’s jaw-dropping curtain-raiser to the Beijing 2008 Games, when thousands of drummers, dancers and deafening pyrotechnics received wide acclaim — and ramped up expectations for the British show.
Excitement in the Britain, which has built up to the Olympics with a nationwide torch relay, was at fever-pitch ahead of the ceremony with Union Flags visible in gardens, windows and streaming from cars.
Millions of Britons packed pubs and gathered with friends and relatives for the grand opening of the greatest show sports on earth, while thousands of excited fans gathered at big screens at London’s Hyde Park and other outdoor locations across the capital.© AFP 2013
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