The Summer Olympic Games will begin today in London, Great Britain after the Opening Ceremony – the traditional curtain-raiser – at the brand-new Olympic Stadium in the Olympic Park. The Games of the XXX Olympiad (London 2012) will be staged in the British capital in which over 10,500 athletes from across 204 nations is expected to compete across 26 different sports and in over 300 matches.
This will also be a historic occasion for London as it will become the only city in the world to have been handed the honour of hosting the biggest global event for three times after hosting the Games in 1908 and 1948. The Olympic Games has the biggest global audience out of any event in the world and is widely regarded as the “greatest show on earth”. It is, therefore, apt that the only city to have had the privilege of hosting this prestigious event thrice will be the one which many people across the world consider to be the greatest city in the world.
London won the bid to host the Games in 2012 by beating several other cities, including Paris at the final round, in July 2005. The French capital was the favourite to win the nomination but the London 2012 bid, headed by former Olympics gold medallist and current Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) Lord Sebastian Coe, managed to gain the most votes from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with help from several celebrities, including footballer David Beckham, who campaigned on behalf of the “Big Smoke”.
The Olympic Games has already started this year with the Women’s football match between hosts Great Britain (Team GB) and New Zealand in Cardiff two days before the Opening Ceremony is scheduled to take place in London. The eyes of the world will be focused on London for the next couple of weeks and in particular at the Opening Ceremony with an estimated global audience of four billion which makes it the biggest global event on the planet by a considerable margin.
The Ceremony entitled the “Isles of Wonder” (from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest) will be directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and the Games will be officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II which will include the customary Parade of the Nations and the entrance of the Olympic Flame. The official London 2012 motto is called “Inspire a Generation” and the 11 million visitors who are expected to travel to London to witness the greatest show on earth will be hoping that athletes from their respective nations will be making them proud and doing just that during this 19-day spectacle which will conclude with the Closing Ceremony on 12 August.
The Unites States of America (Team USA) and China are favourites to win the most medals and China will be hoping to repeat their spectacular success in Beijing 2008 by finishing above Team USA, who are the most successful nation in the history of the Summer Olympics. Hosts Team GB will be hoping to win several medals in front of an expectant home crowd and will be challenging Russia for the 3rd spot or, at least, finish 4th above rivals Australia and France.
The biggest event of London 2012 will be the Athletics Final (Men’s 100m) where Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt – the fastest man on earth – will be defending his three gold medals (and world records) at the showpiece blue-riband event of this year’s Olympics. Bolt was undoubtedly the star attraction in Beijing 2008 and his confident – even arrogant – style and trademark celebration has made him a sporting icon. It is not surprising that the Athletics Final will be the hottest ticket in town during London 2012. Swimming has always been one of the most popular sports at the Olympics and this year will be no different especially with American Michael Phelps – the greatest Olympian in the history of the Games with 14 gold medals – attempting to win more medals at the spectacular Aquatics Centre, designed by award-winning British-Iraqi architect Dame Zada Hadid, and keeping a clear blue-water distance from other legends in being recognised as the greatest Olympian ever. Hosts Team GB is expected to dominate Cycling and will be looking towards Sir Chris Hoy – the flag-bearer of Team GB at the Opening Ceremony – to continue from where he left off in Beijing 2008, in which he became the first Briton to win three gold medals at a single Games for 100 years. The poster-boy and pin-up for London 2012 will definitely be teenager Tom Daley who will be representing Team GB at Diving. The other big stars who will represent Team GB include tennis star Andy Murray and footballer Ryan Giggs. There are some countries, however, who will attempt to remove their nations from the Olympics record books. Readers will be aware that Bangladesh have the record of being the most populous nation to have never won an Olympics medal which is a travesty considering its reputation as a sports-mad country. The five athletes representing the country in London 2012, which include the US-born gymnast Syque Caesar, will attempt to break this unwanted record!
London is widely regarded as the sporting capital of the world with the Wembley Stadium (Football), Wimbledon (Tennis), Lord’s Cricket Ground (Archery) and Wembley Arena (Badminton) – all iconic venues which are considered the spiritual home of their respective sports. As someone who was invited to the Opening Ceremony Rehearsal by the Mayor of London this week and witnessed it before most, it is most definitely recommended to rest your feet and get yourself in front of the telly tonight and witness what will in most likelihood be a spectacular opening of the greatest show on earth hosted by the greatest city in the world. Let the Games begin!
London, Great Britain