Opening Ceremony of the XXX Olympic Games in London (Getty Images) © Copyright
More than 15,000 performers entertained 80,000 spectators and dignitaries along with a estimated worldwide television audience of four billion at the venue that will host the athletics competition beginning next Friday. The ceremony, under the direction of British film maker Danny Boyle, combined music, dance, fire and even live animals to tell the story of a country moving on from an agricultural and industrial legacy.
Following the formal declaration of the opening of the Game by Queen Elizabeth II, the Ceremony culminated in the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron, formed by 205 copper petals representing each of the competing nations. It was ignited by seven you torchbearers nominated by several of Britain's past and present Olympic and sporting greats.
In his address during the Ceremony, Chair of Local Organising Committee and IAAF Vice President Sebastian Coe said: "I have never been so proud to be British and to be part of the Olympic Movement as I am on this day, at this moment. The Olympics brings together the people of the world in harmony and friendship and peace to celebrate what is best about mankind."
"All my life I have loved sport. You have to love sport to compete at it. There is a truth to sport, a purity, a drama, an intensity, a spirit that makes it irresistible to take part in and irresistible to watch. London 2012 seeks to capture all of this. London 2012 will inspire a generation."
"In the next two weeks we will show all that has made London one of the greatest cities in the world," Coe, a two-time Olympic 1500m champion, continued. "The only city to have welcomed the Games three times. Each time we have done it when the world faced turbulence and trouble. And each time the Games have been a triumph."
IAAF President Lamine Diack and fellow members of the IAAF Council were in attendance at the ceremony - Vice President Sergey Bubka entering the stadium with Ukrainian national teams - along with dozens of Heads of State who marked the Games’ opening with IOC President Jacques Rogge.
"In a sense, the Olympic Games are coming home tonight," said Rogge. "This great, sports-loving country is widely recognised as the birthplace of modern sport. It was here that the concepts of sportsmanship and fair play were first codified into clear rules and regulations. It was here that sport was included as an educational tool in the school curriculum."
During the traditional parade of nations, 62 flag bearers were from the sport of athletics.
The Athletics programme takes place from Friday 3 to Sunday 12 August, concluding as per tradition with the men’s Marathon on the morning of the final day.
Bob Ramsak and Local Organisers for the IAAF