A typically British-themed Olympics Games opening ceremony will be watched by an estimated global audience of a billion people on Friday night from London’s brand new stadium.
Director Danny Boyle, famous for the films Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, has put together the three-hour showcase of the UK’s cultural and natural heritage that will kick off the 17-day event.
What was a post industrial wasteland in east London has been transformed into an Olympic Park complete with velodrome and aquatic centre thanks to an 11 billion euro budget.
Visitors and locals say the anticipation for the Games has reached fever pitch over the past few days despite concerns over security and London’s ageing transport network.
A total of 16,000 athletes from 204 countries are participating.
The Olympic torch, which has made more than a thousand stops throughout the British Isles finally arrived in central London for the last leg of its journey on Thursday. Among the torch bearers was UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who carried the flame through the government borough of Westminster.
Later, the torch was received outside Buckingham Palace by Prince William, his wife Kate and Prince Harry before being carried to an Olympics-eve concert at Hyde Park.
London’s Mayor Boris Johnson was keen to quash suggestions by the US Republican presidential candidate, that London couldn’t handle the Olympics.
“I hear there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready,” said Johnson, referring to Romney’s controversial comments on American TV.
“Yes we are! The venues are ready, the stadium is ready, the Aquatic centre is ready, the Velodrome is ready, the security is ready, the police are ready, the transport system is ready!” he added.
The Olympics opening ceremony starts at 10pm Central European Time, is expected to feature football star David Beckham, and will culminate in a performance by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.