The show begins today

81-strong contingent seeks Olympic glory

The show begins today

A tempestuous night of art featuring scenes from the past will transport London to the pages of sporting history when the Games of the 30th Olympiad begins on Friday, setting the stage for a celebration of sport like no other.

No city in the world has hosted the Olympic Games three times but the British capital will have that honour on Friday, after the Games of 1908 and 1948 which were crucial in giving direction and impetus to the movement.

Months ago, acclaimed film director Danny Boyle, inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Tempest”, had promised a “thrilling, captivating, enthralling evening” to get the Games going. The eyes of the world will be on London on Friday to see whether the director keeps that promise.

Titled the “Isles of Wonder,” the show, scheduled to start at 9:00 pm local time (1:30 am on Saturday in India), will bring to life the idyllic English countryside with sheep, goats and cows taking centrestage, even before the champions of the world set their feet on the arena.

Hours before the actual programme starts, the city would have woken up to the chimes of Big Ben, with bells around the country set to follow suit a little past eight in the morning. In the evening, a giant bell, considered the world’s largest harmonically-tuned bell, will be sounded to announce the start of the opening ceremony.

More than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations are competing in this Games but not all will be present at the ceremony, with the competitions set to begin the very next day. Queen Elizabeth will inaugurate the Games but details of the ceremony have been kept a secret, even though parts of it, shot during the rehearsals, surfaced on Youtube. Of course, the answer to the big question –who will light the cauldron – is still a secret, with five-time Olympic champion Steve Redgrave being the favourite.

A total of 10,000 performers will rock the Olympic Stadium while Sir Paul McCartney is expected to sing nearing the end of the programme. Wrestler Sushil Kumar, bronze medallist at Beijing four years ago, will be the Indian flag-bearer at the ceremony and the team will march in with the men wearing saffron turbans, blue blazers and ivory-coloured trousers and the women draped in yellow saris.

Actor Daniel Craig of James Bond fame is also tipped to feature in a filmed segment of the programme that will set the Games rolling. The likes of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Roger Federer and company will then take over the job of entertaining the world, from the next day and over the next two weeks.

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