LONDON — The 2012 London Games open tonight at the Olympic Stadium in what is expected to be a glitzy affair and a celebration showcasing the best of the host nation.
Zimbabwe will go for gold in the event with swimming icon Kirsty Coventry the best medal hopeful.
She gets her campaign underway by competing in the heats for 100m backstroke at the Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park, on Sunday.
The other Zimbabwean athletes are marathoners Sharon Tawengwa, Wirimai Zhuwawo, Cuthbert Nyasango, rowers Jamie Frazer McKenzie, Micheen Thornycroft and triathlete Chris Felgate.
Tonight’s opening ceremony will feature a parade of all competing nations and the highly anticipated entrance of the Olympic Flame, which ignites the Cauldron and signals the start of the Games.
The ceremony will provide an opportunity for the world to view the artistic expression of the artistic director (Danny Boyle) and his team, and the culture of the host city and the UK.
There are certain elements that must feature in every ceremony, as outlined in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter.
The artistic performance of the ceremony then gets underway and welcomes the world to the London 2012 Games.
The name of the Olympic opening ceremony show will be “Isles of Wonder” and the worldwide broadcast will commence at 9pm.
The ceremony will kick off with the sound of the largest harmonically tuned bell in Europe, produced by the Whitechapel Foundry, and the stadium will be transformed into the British countryside for opening scene “Green and Pleasant”, which includes real farmyard animals.
The ceremony will also include a special sequence celebrating the best of British, featuring volunteer performers from the NHS.
Boyle, artistic director of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, said: “Our Isles of Wonder salutes and celebrates the exuberant creativity of the British genius in an opening ceremony that we hope will be as unpredictable and inventive as the British people.”
Receiving the Head of State
The Head of State of the host country is received at the entrance of the Olympic Stadium by the president of the IOC. For the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, Her Majesty the Queen will be greeted by Jacques Rogge.
Parade of Athletes
A procession of the participating teams in the stadium, nation by nation. Teams enter in alphabetical order, according to the language of the host country, apart from the Greek team, which enters first for the Olympics, and the team of the host nation (in this case Team GB), who march in last.
Once all the nations have arrived into the stadium, London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games chair Seb Coe will give a speech, followed by Rogge. They will end their speeches by inviting the Head of State to officially declare the Games open.
Olympic Anthem and Flag
Once the Games have been declared open, the Olympic flag is then carried into the stadium and hoisted into the air as the respective anthem is played. The Olympic Charter states that each flag must fly for the entire duration of the Games — placed in a prominent position in the main stadium.
A participating athlete, judge and coach from the host nation stand on the rostrum and, holding a corner of the IOC flag in their left hand and raising their right, take the oath, vowing to compete and judge according to the rules of their respective sport.
The Torch and Cauldron
The big finale is the entrance of the Olympic Flame into the stadium. it is passed through the athletes to the final torchbearer, who will ceremoniously light the cauldron, indicating the beginning of the Games. The flame will continue to burn for the whole of the Games.
A host of world-class British directors and producers are leading the artistic team to stage the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
A total cast of 15 000 will take part in the London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremonies, which will be watched by an estimated audience of four billion.