On Friday, July 27, the eyes of the world turned to London for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Ceremony, named “Isles of Wonder” by Artistic Director Danny Boyle, celebrated the best of the Host Nation and featured a parade of all competing nations as well as the highly anticipated entrance of the Olympic Flame, which ignited the Cauldron and officially signaled the start of the Games.
The Ceremony began with the sounding of the largest harmonically tuned bell in Europe, made at the Whitechapel Foundry. The Stadium then transformed into the British countryside for the opening scene “Green and Pleasant.” The Ceremony also included a special sequence celebrating the best of British, featuring volunteer performers from the NHS.
The evening’s performance represents the culmination of preparations that began back in 2005 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded London the 2012 Games – marking the third time London has hosted the modern games, the most of any city.
London 2012 has been the catalyst for transforming 2.5 square km of land in east London. What was once industrial land has been rapidly transformed over the last few years into green space that both visitors to the Games and local residents can enjoy. Construction in preparation for the Games has involved considerable redevelopment, particularly themed toward sustainability. The new 200 hectare Olympic Park rose up on a former industrial site at Stratford in the east of London. The Games also make use of many venues already in place before London won the bid.
The Olympic Stadium will host the four spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies at London 2012, as well as some of the most iconic Games events. The Stadium is at the heart of the Olympic Park on an “island” site, surrounded by waterways on three sides. Spectators reach the venue via five bridges that link the site to the surrounding area.
The London Underground (subway) system underwent substantial improvements. The plan is to have 80% of athletes travel less than 20 minutes to their event and to have 93% of athletes within 30 minutes of their event. Ten separate railway lines will serve the Olympic Park with a combined capacity of 240,000 passengers per hour.
An audience of about 62,000 were in the stadium for the ceremony while over 1 billion worldwide watched from their living rooms.
• Wikipedia, 2012 Summer Olympics
• London 2012