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London Set For Olympics' Opening Ceremony

London In Throes Of Last-Minute Preparations i
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July 27, 2012
The heat is on in London, literally and figuratively, with just hours to go before the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics. (AP video)
The countdown is under way, as the world's eyes turn to London for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
 
International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge gave his final stamp of approval to the London Games on July 27.
 
Rogge declared the British capital ready to host the sporting extravaganza, saying, "I can say with pleasure that London is ready and we are eagerly waiting for the opening ceremony." 
 
Eighty-thousand spectators and a global television audience of some 1 billion are expected to watch the three-hour opening ceremony spectacle at the new Olympic Stadium.
 
The 70-day torch relay will see the Olympic flame taken along the Thames River, culminating in the lighting of the cauldron that will blaze over the next 16 days.
 
RFE/RL's full coverage of the London 2012 Olympics

Organizers have kept secret the identity of the individual who will have the honor of setting the cauldron alight.
 
More than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations are competing for Olympic gold, silver, and bronze in the athletic extravaganza held in a different country once every four years.
 
Speaking to China's CCTV television on July 26, London Mayor Boris Johnson offered assurances that the British capital is ready to host the biggest sporting event in history.

"We're as ready as any city has ever been in the history of the Olympic Games and we're very proud of what we are doing. Obviously, you cannot be complacent. You can never be overconfident about something like this, but we think that we're in a very, very good place," Johnson said.
 
Tight Security

With more than 40,000 security personnel being deployed -- including 18,200 military troops -- it will also be the biggest security operation in Britain ever during peacetime. 
 
Johnson said the extraordinary security arraignments will ensure a safe event for spectators and athletes.

WATCH: Olympic torch makes final journey
Olympic Torch Makes Last Leg Of Journeyi
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July 27, 2012
After an 8,000-mile journey around the United Kingdom, the Olympic torch was carried by a flotilla down the Thames River through central London, hours before the opening ceremony of the Games. (AP video)

"If you go around and talk to the people who are running the venues, they are very safe, the teams are working well, you've got a mixture of the armed services personnel and the security guys, and they're all very happy and doing a good job," Johnson said.
 
Though the opening ceremony was taking place on July 27, the sporting competition has already gotten under way with first-round games in women's and men's football.
 
In the July 26 matches, Japan's men's team pulled off a 1-0 upset victory over Spain in Glasgow, Scotland. Although Olympic football is for players under 23, Spain -- the world and European champion at the senior level -- has been regarded as a favorite for Olympic gold.
 
In the opening ceremony, Europe's largest bell will ring inside the stadium to kick off the celebration. Organizers say the show will feature a cast of 10,000 people.
 
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are also hosting a Buckingham Palace reception for visiting heads of state and government, and a celebration concert will be held in Hyde Park.


With reporting from AFP and BBC 
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