After seven years of planning, £9bn of public money spent and a jubilee of advertising, Great Britain is ready to summon all comers. Welcome to the 2012 London Olympics.
In the megacity’s third go at the Games much has happened in the build-up. However, now is the time to get prepared for an assault on the senses. There will be something for everyone during these Games: even the most hardened of cynics.
It all officially kicks off today.
This morning Mathew Pinsent, a knighted rower with four gold medals to his name, took the Olympic torch to the royal barge Gloriana (used to ferry Queen Elizabeth during her diamond Jubilee celebrations earlier in the year). From here the torch will be taken to Tower Bridge, before disappearing until this evening, where it shall reappear to close the opening ceremony.
This will end a 70-day tour of the British Isles, where an estimated 13m saw the torch first hand. By this evening, according to Reuters, approximately 1bn will see the torch enter the Olympic Stadium.
This will be the centerpiece of the opening ceremony. Oscar winning director Danny Boyle, of Slumdog Millionaire fame, has choreographed the entire show and rumors of how it will go have been hard to come by. However, Boyle has allowed a video clip to be released featuring a rainbow of dancers jiving to ‘Tiger Feet’ by 70s group Mud, as well as winged cyclists spinning to ‘Come Together’ by the Beatles.
All of this is said to be performed atop a model of the British countryside.
As bizarre as this may end up being, it will not be cheap or minimalist. 80,000 spectators, including the queen, will be strapped in for three hours of the £27m show.
More than 500 speakers will be rigged to a million-watt PA system as thousands prance around stage. Then there will be the procession of athletes, as 204 nations see their contenders stream into the stadium, bearing flags.
It is still a mystery as to which famous figure will light the Olympic cauldron. The favorite for the honor is Sir Roger Bannister, but there is still speculation about the validity of the claims by Daley Thompson and Steve Redgrave.
Whoever lights the cauldron, they will be part of a global show. After this the smoke will clear and everything comes down to athletic achievement. It is as simple as that, because everyone is watching for a reason.
Sit back and behold the glory and spectacle of sport.