UK & World News
Olympics: Countdown To Opening Ceremony
A potential worldwide audience of billions are about to watch the Olympic Games get under way tonight with a £27m opening ceremony.
The Isles of Wonder spectacular will welcome the world to east London as the build-up of the last few months becomes a reality.
Ceremony director Danny Boyle has dedicated the extravaganza to the 15,000 volunteers helping to bring it to life as organisers said they expected a sell-out crowd of 62,000 in the audience at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.
He said: "This is a live performance and it's the actors, and in our case they're volunteers, who have to get up there and do it."
Speaking at the Olympic Park, the Oscar-winning filmmaker added: "It's been a long road and we're almost there. I'm looking forward to it very much."
Organisers Locog said just 50 tickets were left for the ceremony, which starts at 9pm.
Earlier thousands of people lined the River Thames to cheer the Olympic torch as it made its way across London to the end of its journey.
This morning bells rang out around the UK to mark the final countdown. London's Big Ben was joined by hundreds of churches across the nation as it chimed non-stop for three minutes to ring in the Games.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain was ready to welcome "the greatest show on Earth", telling reporters: "We have got a great past, a very exciting future and this is a great moment for our country, so we must seize it."
Mayor of London Boris Johnson told Sky's Adam Boulton the build-up to the Games had been an "amazing thing".
"You're seeing a kind of benign contagion passing from person to person," he said. "Not necessarily infecting everybody... there are some people who remain impervious to the joy of the torch and I can understand that.
"But it is a wonderful thing to see."
Many of those heading towards the Olympic Park were beset by†transport problems, with main line train and Tube delays causing hold-ups in and around the capital.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was also involved in a mishap. He narrowly missed injuring bystanders as he rung an Olympic bell and its handle flew off during celebrations on the banks of the Thames.
He later told Sky News the Games were "the longest single advert for Britain in our history".
Mystery still surrounds who will be given the honour of lighting the Olympic flame,
The Queen, Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Roger Bannister, Daley Thompson and David Beckham have all been touted as contenders.
Beckham made a surprise appearance at London's City Hall, where the torch relay neared the end of its journey, and spoke of his pride at helping to bring the Games to his home turf.
The 37-year-old, who was raised in east London, said: "Today is going to be an amazing moment."
Anticipation has bene growing among the crowds visiting the Olympic Park.
American sports fan Rod Coffee, from Miami, told Sky News: "It has already outlived my expectation you guys have done an amazing job."
Antonia Nkemnacho, who lives in Stratford, added: "I am very pleased to be welcoming the world, you don't feel like going to the West End now because what we have here makes you feel proud."
Although the early rounds of some competitions are already under way, tonight's show gives the athletes a chance to announce their nation's arrival at London 2012.
Jamaican 4x400m relay runner Dominique Blake told Sky News: "It is just a really amazing sense of pride that you carry and it is a memory you will remember for the rest of your life. It's awesome!"
what do you think?
i think it will be abu hamza that lights the olympic fire, sounds about right for this and previous governmants
Phylip de la Maziere
They should take all that scaffolding down first - it still looks like a construction site - or is that supposed to be modern art and design?
Windows Live User
I saw some strange looking twirly wirly steel tower on tv last night and the presenter said it was £15 to climb to the top and have a look? I guess some rich idiots will pay for the excercise
Barclays have already won Gold for biggest fall in profits !
Robin Van Der Spiegel
The media is going hyper in its hype. It feeds itself. The TV has to justify the hype by hyping the event so that we watch dull sports on TV. Opening ceremony? How much was the bill for that?
No,.....still not convinced its getting exciting, roll on when it's all over, hopefully without incidents, how long does it last for?
Aww c`mon, let`s have a couple of exciting incidents to add interest.
Windows Live User
Julie, Too long
WHY OH WHY ...after waiting for 4 years to witness the first olympic event ...they start with FOOTBALL ..DAYS before the opening ceremony ?.they have ruined the spectacle of a start .
It wasn`t bad, a " Team GB " footballer, born of Nigerian parents in the USA refused to sing the National Anthem because she " felt that she was Scottish " ---- it all adds interest.
I agree Kelly, it's a bit like starting a party before the main guest gets there.
Living in the north I can't get excited at all. I just feel so far away from anything. :(
This comment has been removed for violations of our Terms and Conditions.
You`d be even further away if you lived in the Shetlands
Windows Live User
Valerie, I am with you on this one. The games may as well be in the southern hemisphere for the excitement I have seen. No one seems bothered as there is nothing to prompt them here. Shame the cost was extortionate to take my grandsons to london to see 1 event. Afraid Cameron /Coe didnt think this one throgh for Britains youth
Whinge, whinge, whinge ... give it a rest, you lot! Try getting down off your high horses for once and enjoy a bit of fun. Life's too short and painful enough without constantly moaning about something that might just be a good thing ... if you let it be so!
Surely `fun` should be spontaneous not manufactured, especially being manufactured by big companies making a mountain of money out of it in the knowledge that the sheep will follow.
Windows Live User
You don't like the "high horses" expression? How about "soap boxes" then? And having organised fun on a global scale does not preclude having spontaneous fun.
Val, I support your enthusiasm and joie de vivre but this event is manufactured. There is no spontaneity to this. Try turning up to an Olympic event and being 'spontaneous' or contraire (like bringing a packed lunch rather than visiting McDonalds) and see how quickly you are evicted from the party.
Viv, I never said it wasn't manufactured ... can you imagine a global event that wasn't, in some way? I was merely answering an earlier comment that asserted that fun should be "spontaneous", not manufactured. My point is that there is room for both. I would argue, in fact, that an event of this size is more inclusive in that it allows many millions of people to enjoy it ... a "spontaneous" event is normally only enjoyed by the people present at the time. Many people are never able to attend those sort of "spontaneous" events but *will* be able to enjoy the Olympics on their TV. :-)
Robin Van Der Spiegel
Well said val with you all the way on this. Love the fact that the whine jockeys on here think they reflect the nations opinion. Presumably this means all stadia will very more or less empty throughout the event then? Viewing figures will be poor? Hmmm we will see. I can't wait personally
everythings rosey in the garden isn't it Val and in a couple of weeks time when this is all over and we are in more billions of debt ,on top of a recession ,i expect fools like you will still be saying ooooohhh it was fun...you are truely clueless .
I'll be glad when when its all over with. Sick of hearing the word Olympic.
Can anyone tell me what little girls prancing around waving ribbons on a stick has to do with Olympic sport? This is only one of the events that should be regarded as hobbies or exhibition pieces and not sport.
And synchro swimming...
Windows Live User
Afraid Boris is talking through his hat. How would he know if sceptics had been converted. He is very wishful and full of b...s..t
'Earlier, thousands of people lined the River Thames to cheer the Olympic torch as it made its way to the end of its journey at the Olympic Park.' Thousands? Well that's hardly many in a city of millions plus all the supposed millions of tourists who are meant to be here. The hysteria and hype is ridiculous. Calm down media - Especially Sky. The football starts soon so you can start to drivel on about that again and how this is the most important match since the last one.
'£27m opening ceremony' Answers my earlier question. next question is - how long does this opening ceremony last? I just want to work out the pounds per minute cost.
Viv its 3 hours long. 2500 pounds a second, 150k a minute.
It's also the only time it will ever happen in your lifetime, so why not work it out over 60 years?
I am with u on this Val. Can't believe the amount of moaners against the Olympics.
London is no longer part of England .
cuts to the armed forces ,cuts to the N.H.S .....................and £27m on this load of tosh .its a disgrace .I hope it rains ................VERY HARD !!
My god it looks like a nuclear bomb has gone off in and around the stadium. What an embarrassment.