The day that London has been waiting seven years for has finally arrived. July 27, 2012 marks the official opening of the Games of the XXX Olympiad. That Roman numeral is hard to believe, it has been nearly 120 years since Baron Pierre de Coubertin began organizing the first modern Olympics. He could have in no way imagined the global spectacle the Games have become, involving more than 10,000 athletes from over 200 countries competing in over 300 events.
The Opening Ceremony has become an enormous mixture of athletics and entertainment with big name entertainers, a cast of thousands and a precise outline. There will be the entrance of the athletes, led by Greece and anchored by the host, Great Britain. The flag bearer for each country is a high honor. Two-time gold medal fencer Mariel Zagunis will carry in the American flag. Headlines were made Thursday when it was announced that Usian Bolt would carry the Jamaican flag. Any other choice would have seemed ludicrous. Every summer Olympic flag bearer from Jamaica has been from track & field, usually the country's most successful athlete.
The identity of the final torchbearer remains shrouded in secrecy, as is the custom. I always enjoy seeing which Olympic legends carry in the Olympic flag. I am hoping to see British greats David Hemery, Mary Rand, Lynn Davies, Mary Peters, David Wilkie, Alan Wells, Duncan Goodhew, Steve Ovett, Malcolm Cooper and Sally Gunnell involved.
The Queen will open the Games, while James Bond and Paul McCartney will be involved.
Don't expect to see Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte or Jordyn Wieber marching in with Team USA. Athletes who compete on the first weekend will often skip the Opening Ceremony in order to rest. One of the unofficial traditions of the opening ceremony is that a basketball player will carry in the Chinese flag. Yi Jianlian will become the 8th consecutive male basketball player to lead China. Some familiar names will be flagbearers, including NBA player Pau Gasol of Spain, tennis players Maria Sharapova of Russia and Serbia's Novak Djokovic.
The competition begins on Saturday, but for now every athlete will enter the stadium as an Olympian, some have no chance of winning a medal. Where else but the Olympics can one see a gathering of thousands of people from every corner of the globe, entering as equals?
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