London Olympic 2012 Games officially open

London – GBR, July 28, 2012: The Opening Ceremony was themed “this is for everyone” and Artistic Director Danny Boyle delivered an unforgettable Opening Ceremony for the packed London Olympic Stadium and a global television audience of billions. The Olympic Stadium came to life with the ringing of a bell by Tour de France Champion Bradley Wiggins and an oration by Kenneth Branagh from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

The show called The Isles of Wonder was off to a serene start until suddenly, the rustic British countryside at the centre of the Stadium burst open. The depths of the Olympic stadium rattled to the sound of beating drums representing “Pandemonium”- The Age of Industry, the remembrance of those fallen from the resulting wars and the radical cultural changes of the 1960s.

Out of the chaos, the Olympic Rings were created from metal. Sparks flew and the five Olympic Rings rose high above the Stadium. Sending twitter into overdrive was the arrival of her Majesty the Queen, and in no ordinary manner.

A mock James Bond film showed actor Daniel Craig assuming his role as Britain’s most famous spy and meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The film showed the pair fly in a helicopter across London to the stadium where a “stunt Queen” leapt out and parachuted into the stadium. Her Majesty appeared alongside International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge to enjoy the rest of the stadium.

The audience was in raptures as a performance of the emotive Chariots of Fire theme song by the London Symphony Orchestra was gatecrashed by Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson) who was up to his usual antics.

Music filled the Stadium for the next segment Frankie and June say… Thanks Tim – a love story that unfolded in nightclubs of different eras, the London tube represented by glow sticks, and social media. This segment was symbolic of the British scientist and Londoner Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s invention: the World Wide Web.

Dancers performed an emotive movement that symbolised remembrance of fallen loved ones to the 1847 hymn ‘Abide With Me’ before the athletes prepared to take the stage.

There are 10,490 athletes competing in London, and although not all marched in the Athletes’ Parade, it was a kaleidoscope of colour that embodies the Olympic Games.

As the final athletes marched, seven billion pieces of tiny paper were dropped – one for every person on the planet, symbolic of the global spirit of the Olympic Games.

Bicycles were given a stunning tribute in the Ceremony, an apt connection to one of the first strong medal chances of the Games, with the men’s road race contested tomorrow.

The ancient principals of the Games were honoured with the Olympic Flag (first raised in Antwerp in 1920), Olympic anthem (first performed in 1896), the Olympic Oath (first sworn in 1920), and the Olympic Truce.

“Athletes are the true heart of the Olympic Games, and this is their time to shine, to put in the performances of their lives and to inspire a generation,” President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge said.

Finally, Her Majesty the Queen declared the Games open to a roar that could be heard back on the river Thames were the Ceremony began.

“I look forward to memorable Games that leave a lasting legacy for London, the UK and the worldwide Olympic Movement,” Her Majesty the Queen said.

Britain’s most famous footballer David Beckham escorted the Olympic Flame on a boat along the country’s oldest canal. Docking at the edge of the stadium, he passed the Flame to Britain’s greatest Olympian of all time- Sir Steve Redgrave.

Winner of five Olympic rowing gold medals, Redgrave ran with the Torch into the euphoric stadium, marking the end of a 12,800 mile journey.

Making good on the Games promise to “inspire a generation”, seven young promising athletes then took the Torch for a lap of honour before greeting seven great British Olympic heroes and being welcomed by 260 Olympians from as far back as the London 1948 Games.

One of the most closely guarded secrets of the Games was the cauldron and it certainly was worth the wait.

Competing delegations received a copper petal with the country’s name inscribed on it, along with the words “XXX Olympiad London 2012.” The petals were carried in during the Parade of Nations and deposited in the centre of the stadium.

The seven young athletes approached and lit the copper petals. They slowly rose into the air and formed one giant flame, symbolising the peaceful coming together of nations – representative of the Olympic Game.

Described as both breathtaking and a triumph, the cauldron shone high above the stadium. It will now be moved from the stadium to the Athletes’ Village, where it will remain lit until the Games come to a close on August 12.

Sir Paul McCartney closed proceedings bathed in a mind-blowing pyrotechnic display that extended to Olympic Park. The 115m high ArcelorMittal Orbit- a Games legacy- glowed in the background as the audience bellowed the chorus of Hey Jude. “An extraordinary journey is about to begin,” Chair of the London Organising Committee Lord Seb Coe said. —- Taya Conomos and Matt Bartolo in London/

Read the full text of the speech of IOC President Jacques Rogge

In just a few moments, the Olympic Games will officially return to London for the third time, setting an unmatched record for hosting the Games that spans more than a century. Thank you, London, for welcoming the world to this diverse, vibrant, cosmopolitan city yet again!

It has taken a lot of hard work by many people to get us to this point.

I want to thank the entire team at the London Organising Committee – superbly led by Lord Coe – for their excellent and hard work. I also want to thank all the public authorities who have helped ensure that these Games will leave a lasting positive legacy long after the Closing Ceremony.

And, of course, we are all grateful to the thousands of dedicated volunteers who are being so generous with their time, their energy and their welcoming smiles.

For the first time in Olympic history all the participating teams will include female athletes. This is a major boost for gender equality. In a sense, the Olympic Games are coming home tonight.

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.

The British approach to sport had a profound influence on Pierre de Coubertin, our founder, as he developed the framework for the modern Olympic Movement at the close of the 19th century. The values that inspired de Coubertin will come to life over the next 17 days as the world’s best athletes compete in a spirit of friendship, respect and fair play.

I congratulate all of the athletes who have earned a place at these Games. And to the athletes, I offer this thought: Your talent, your dedication and commitment brought you here. Now you have a chance to become true Olympians. That honour is determined not by whether you win, but by how you compete. Character counts far more than medals.

Reject doping. Respect your opponents. Remember that you are all role models. If you do that, you will inspire a generation. Ces Jeux sont porteurs de beaucoup d’espoirs. Espoir d’entente et de paix entre les 204 Comités Nationaux Olympiques. Espoir de voir les jeunes générations s’inspirer des valeurs du sport. Espoir que ces Jeux puissent contribuer au développement durable. Chers athlètes, faites-nous rêver ! Make us dream !

I now have the honour to ask Her Majesty the Queen to open the Games of the XXX Olympiad—- IOC/Image © Getty Images

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