The London Olympic opening ceremony is due to take place later after seven years of preparations. The Olympic flame is heading along the Thames on the Queen’s row barge Gloriana on the final day of the torch relay.
A mass bell-ringing took place for three minutes from 08:12 BST (07:12 GMT) to notice the Cultural Olympiad. Big Ben chimed 40 times throughout the period. It was the first time since the funeral of King George VI that the famous bell had rung non-stop for three minutes.
About 60,000 people gathered in Hyde Park on Thursday night to see the final torchbearer light a cauldron in front of 60,000 people as London Mayor Boris Johnson wished the crowds a wonderful Olympics, and thanked them for their support.
Sixty-four years after King George VI and Queen Elizabeth attended the opening ceremony of the last London Olympics, Queen Elizabeth II and several other members of the royal family are expected to be at the Olympic Park on Friday night for the opening of the 2012 Games.
On Friday, Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to host 110 heads of state at a reception at Buckingham Palace. After the gathering, the queen and those heads of state will head to the Olympic Park, where the queen will open the Games. Among the other members of the royal family who are scheduled to attend are Charles, Prince of Wales; Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; and Prince Harry.
Few shows can claim such an audience. As the dramatic spectacle of the Olympics Games opening ceremony in London unfolds Friday night, millions of people around the world will be glued to their television sets.
Some tens of thousands more are lucky enough to have a seat inside the Olympic Stadium, the centerpiece of the Olympic Park in east London. Tickets for the London 2012 Olympic Games are now available to Olympic fans worldwide through various channels depending on their country of residence.
And the organizers of the London Games are well aware they have a tough act to follow after the Beijing extravaganza four years ago, which featured thousands of drummers, acrobats, martial artists and dancers performing under a light display at the soaring “Bird’s Nest” Stadium.
The grand finale will see the Olympic torch enter the stadium, the last stage in a 70-day relay around the United Kingdom, and set the Olympic cauldron aflame, symbolizing the beginning of the Games. Who the final torchbearer will be has been the subject of much speculation.
More than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations will take part in the London Olympics. Some £9bn of public money has been spent on staging the Games but PM David Cameron, who toured the Olympic Park on Thursday, has stressed the opportunity presented by the Games at a time of economic fragility.