Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony contained some pretty stark messages as it told the story of Britain, from a green and pleasant land raped by industrial capitalism. He had the NHS front and centre of a section that had both uplifting and dark messages about the literature that Britain has produced.
Extraordinarily, Mr Boyle persuaded the Queen to act in a video sequence of the ceremony, then presented her as if she were parachuting into the Olympic stadium alongside James Bond. The Queen then made her real entrance, late enough to miss most of the political messsages. Read more
Protesters see the games as a symbol of the widening inequality in London, claiming the poor have been shut out of both the Olympics and their legacy. Sponsors are targets either because they represent big business or, in the case of Dow Chemicals, because of links to a previous disaster. Read more
Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Boris Johnson probably put it best when he said this morning that the geiger-counter of Olympo-mania was “creeping towards the red zone”. The UK is abuzz and senior politicians – already relieved that the Olympics are finally distracting from Britain’s economic woes – have entered fully into the manic spirit.
First off, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt provided some unexpected entertainment when he waved a hand bell rather too enthusiastically during the “all the bells” celebration on HMS Belfast to mark the start of the games. The bell flew off its handle, narrowly missing the crowds on deck. “Oh, oh dear! Are you all right? Health and safety!”, Mr Hunt cried, in a very British way. He later recovered enough to laugh off the incident with a humour rare among politicians who have suffered televised mishap. “I was ringing a bell in a very excited way and the bell actually collapsed in my hand and went flying off,” he told the BBC. “It was a clanger, if you’ll forgive the awful pun.” Read more
Will there be enough food – and staff – to serve the hordes of spectators at the Olympic stadium? Mark Wembridge gives his view Read more
Jacques Rogge (L) arrives with Princess Anne at the Opening Ceremony of the IOC at the Royal Opera House on July 23. (Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Images)
With a goodly number of crown princes, princesses, sheikhs and counts in its ranks, the International Olympic Committee is not a club inclined to cut corners.
The presence in London of the 109 IOC members, led by president Jacques Rogge, is quickly coming under the kind of scrutiny they presumably knew they were in for seven years ago when they decided, narrowly, to stage the 2012 Olympics in London rather than Paris.
The grandeur of their five-star residence in the Park Lane Hilton, complete with security cordon, set the tone for the criticism they can probably expect to encounter on a regular basis during the games. Read more
The Javelin train (and Boris) (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Journalists are a cynical bunch the world over it would seem, or at least Down Under. The Australian press pack have spotted what they claim is the Achilles heel in the much-maligned Olympic transport plan and one of their veteran sports reporters, who has just turned up in London to cover his third Olympic Games, felt obliged to inform the FT’s transport correspondent of the problem.
The issue is not apparently with one of the underground lines to the Olympic Park at Stratford, which have had their share of problems in the build-up to the opening ceremony later on Friday. Nah mate, it’s the flagship high-speed Javelin train, the newest, shiniest and quickest way to get to to Stratford. Running a shuttle service every six minutes during the Games from the gleaming spires of St Pancras station in north London this smooth, air conditioned seven minutes ride is a far cry from the hot, oppressive and not always very reliable trains on the Tube. Read more
A torch from the 1948 London Olympics (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
The great day has arrived: 12 hours to go until the opening ceremony begins! To help you cope with the wait, here’s our roundup of some of the best Olympics coverage – and the highlights of the schedule today.
1) Simon Kuper says the Olympic legacy for London “won’t be economic stimulus, or a mass post-games take-up of synchronised swimming, but something less tangible: a feeling of togetherness, a new London identity”.
2) The opening ceremony is a “peculiar manifestation of geopolitical machismo” writes Matthew Engel, comparing the event’s inevitable rituals to those of the Catholic church. “Thankfully, the doves are now released after the flame is lit, not before, following the incineration of several birds at the 1988 games in Seoul,” he adds. Read more