The London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony tonight welcomed the finest athletes from more than 200 nations for the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, marking an historic third time the capital has hosted the world’s biggest and most important sporting event.
Following the declaration of the opening of the Games by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the spectacular finale of the Ceremony saw the Olympic Cauldron, formed of more than 200 copper petals representing the competing nations coming together in London for the Games, ignited by seven young Torchbearers nominated by a cavalcade of Britain’s past and present Olympic and sporting greats.
These included Olympic Ambassadors David Beckham who played who played an important role in bringing the Games to London and has been a big supporter ever since and Jade Bailey a young footballer tipped to become one of the sporting stars of the future who both earlier in the show also bought the flame to the Stadium by speedboat from Tower Bridge. As well as David and Jade the cauldron lighting included Olympic Torchbearers Lynn Davis, Duncan Goodhew MBE, Dame Kelly Homes DBE MBE (Mil), Mary Peters DBE, Sir Steve Redgrave CBE, Shirley Robertson and Daley Thompson.
The ceremony reflected the key themes and priorities of the London 2012 Games, based on sport, inspiration, youth and urban transformation.
LOCOG Chair, Seb Coe said: ‘The athletes competing at the Olympic Games have arrived in London to give the performances of their lives. We wanted to provide a very British welcome for them and the rest of the world. Danny Boyle has created a show of memories and moments that will last a lifetime for people across the UK and the world.’
The Ceremony celebrated Britain's connections to the global community and culture, and included globally known British stars of song, stage, screen and sport such as Sir Paul McCartney who closed the Ceremony, David Beckham and Daniel Craig – who in his most recognised role as James Bond accompanied her Majesty the Queen in a mission to get to the Olympic Stadium.
Oscar winning British director Danny Boyle and his creative team took audiences gathered in the Olympic Stadium, at London 2012 Live Sites in towns and cities around the UK and more than a billion television viewers in villages and neighbourhoods around the world on a spectacular and emotional journey through British time, culture and society.
The theme of the Ceremony was ‘this is for everyone’, and celebrated contributions the UK has made to the world through innovation and revolution, as well as the creativity and exuberance of British people.
From the industrial to the digital revolution, the Ceremony celebrated how Britain has contributed to the world.
In one moving segment, the sell out audience joined as one in a minute’s silence, remembering fallen heroes who have died in conflicts across the world.
Using new pixel technology to create a light show within the stadium audience never been seen before, aerial choreography and 12,956 props, over 100 times more than a West End musical, the London 2012 Ceremonies Team transformed the Olympic Stadium into a series of historic, contemporary and modern settings that reflected the cultural changes and revolutions of British society.
The Ceremony began with a scene of Britain’s ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ and the ringing of the world’s largest harmonically tuned bell by gold medal winning Olympic medal winner Bradley Wiggins, and a reading from Caliban’s speech from Shakespeare’s The Tempest was spoken by the character of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Britain’s most revered engineer, played by British actor Kenneth Branagh.
The set was spectacularly changed by more than 2,500 volunteer cast to represent the period of Industrial Revolution. In the section of the show titled ‘Pandemonium’, Milton’s invented word for the capital of hell in ‘Paradise Lost’, the section celebrates a time that unleashed potential in British people, the growth of cities and a working base, and produced an Education Act which gave the opportunity for everyone to read and write.
The Ceremony also celebrated Britain’s free health service, the National Health Service (NHS), in a section that featured hundreds of volunteers from hospitals and surgeries across the UK, including London’s famous children’s hospital Great Ormond Street. This sequence included a celebration of Britain’s place as a leader in children’s literature and the importance and delight of reading and writing with a passage from JM Barrie’s classic ‘Peter Pan’ read by the most successful author in history JK Rowling and references to universally popular characters born in British fiction including Mary Poppins, Captain Hook, Voldemort and Cruella de Vil.
The Ceremony also paid tribute to Britain’s contribution to a modern revolution – the internet revolution. A sequence that featured British music from the 60’s to now, culminated in the appearance of British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the worldwide web and ensured it was placed in trust and protected against ownership so it could be free for the world.
The London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony featured a volunteer cast of more than 7,500 volunteer performers who gave up their weekends and evenings to take part in a total of 248 rehearsals at two east London rehearsal sites and at the Stadium. On average, adult volunteer performers rehearsed for 150 hours each. The children volunteers were drawn from 25 schools in the six east London Host Boroughs and the 170 16-18 year olds, from six colleges in the Host Boroughs speak more than 50 languages between them.
Artistic Director of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Danny Boyle said: ‘Our show was really the volunteer’s show. If you want to judge us as an island, these people are the best of us, and we hope the feeling of the show was a celebration of their generosity.’
Mike Oldfield said: ‘I am immensely proud to be involved with this momentous event and in helping to bring Danny Boyle's vision to reality. The opening ceremony will see the London 2012 Olympic Games off to a spectacular flying start.’
Tim Berners-Lee said: ‘The Opening Ceremony is a fantastic show, a tribute to the athletes who have worked so hard to get here. It is a great honour to be involved with it. Every Olympic Games is a very special event, but this one is particularly for me being in the city in which I grew up.’
Dizzee Rascal said: ‘It is exciting to be part of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. It is a good time for the UK and I am glad they asked me to perform one of my greatest tracks to represent the country. Huge respect to all the athletes who are taking part and let's get the party started.’
Emeli Sande said: ‘I am extremely proud and humbled to be part of the amazing ceremony which will allow the world to see some of the best up-and-coming and established talent the UK has produced.’
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Notes to editors:
For further information please contact the London 2012 Press Office on +44 (0)203 2012 100 or visit the website at www.london2012.com.
The full media guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony is available to download on the London 2012 Media Centre. A breakdown of sections of the ceremony follows:
We travel down the River Thames to the Olympic Stadium... The end of the countdown is marked by the ringing of the Olympic Bell, the largest harmonically-tuned bell in the world which was specially made for the Olympic Park.
Green and Pleasant Land
The scene opens on the countryside we all believe once existed – the Britain of The Wind in the Willows and Winnie-the-Pooh. The four nations that make up the United Kingdom are represented in song.
Kenneth Branagh reads a quote from The Tempest, starting a segment celebrating Britain’s role as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Political upheavals are represented in a parade around the Stadium.
Happy & Glorious
In a film shot in Buckingham Palace, Daniel Craig as James Bond and Her Majesty the Queen journey to the Olympic Stadium in a helicopter. They swoop over the capital to scenes of great rejoicing.
Second to the right, and straight on till morning
This segment honours two of Britain’s greatest achievements: it’s amazing body of children’s literature, which has captured our imaginations with heroes and villains, and the National Health Service (NHS).
Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra pay tribute to the film most associated with the Olympics: Chariots of Fire.
frankie & june say… Thanks Tim
A typical Saturday night scene bursts forth from an ordinary house, sound tracked to British pop music from different decades.
Abide With Me
Emeli Sandé sings the beautiful hymn ‘Abide With Me’, accompanied by a dance sequence choreographed and led by Akram Khan.
The Athletes’ Parade sits at the heart of Olympic Opening Ceremony. It is led by Greece to honour the birthplace of the Olympics, followed by teams from the rest of the world in alphabetical order, with the exception of the Host Nation – Team GB – who conclude the Parade.
A celebration of the bicycle – and the traditional doves which, from ancient times, were released at the Games to signal peace.
Let the Games Begin
The official opening of the Games includes traditional elements common to all opening Ceremonies: speeches by the Chair of the Organising Committee and President of the IOC; raising the Olympic Flag; singing the Olympic Anthem, and Oath taking. Her Majesty The Queen then officially declares the Games open.
There is a Light That Never Goes Out
The lighting of the Olympic Cauldron is another traditional part of the Ceremony. Sir Steve Redgrave carries the Olympic Flame into the Stadium which is passed to seven young athletes - Great Britain’s hopefuls for the next Olympic Games, who in turn run with flame along the track. They are joined by seven British Olympic heroes – Lynn Davies, Duncan Goodhew, Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Mary Peters, Shirley Robertson and Daley Thompson along with Sir Steve Redgrave. The Olympians hand each young athlete a torch and together they head towards 206 of Britain’s greatest Olympians who have gathered on the field of play to share the cauldron lighting moment.
Each competing delegation when arriving in London received a copper petal – inscribed with the country’s name and the words ‘XXX Olympiad London 2012’. Each petal was laid down during the Athletes’ Parade. The seven young torchbearers ignite a single flame within one petal which triggers the ignition of more than 200 petals. The cauldron’s stems rise towards each other and converge to form one flame.
And in the end...
A musical legend plays the evening out: Sir Paul McCartney.
London 2012 Games partners:
The Worldwide Olympic Partners who support the London 2012 Olympic Games and the National Olympic Committees around the world are Coca-Cola, Acer, Atos, Dow, GE, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter and Gamble, Samsung and Visa.
LOCOG has seven domestic Tier One Partners - adidas, BMW, BP, British Airways, BT, EDF and Lloyds TSB. There are seven domestic Tier Two Supporters – Adecco, ArcelorMittal, Cadbury, Cisco, Deloitte, Thomas Cook and UPS. There are now twenty-eight domestic Tier Three Suppliers and Providers – Aggreko, Airwave, Atkins, Boston Consulting Group, CBS Outdoor, Crystal CG, Eurostar, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, G4S, GSK, Gymnova, Heathrow Airport, Heineken UK, Holiday Inn, John Lewis, McCann Worldgroup, Mondo, NATURE VALLEY, Next, Nielsen, Populous, Rapiscan Systems, Rio Tinto, Technogym, Thames Water, Ticketmaster, Trebor and Westfield.
There is one domestic Tier One Paralympic Games-only Partner, Sainsbury’s and one domestic Tier Three Paralympic Games-only Supplier, Otto Bock. The London 2012 Paralympic Games also acknowledges the support of the National Lottery.