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Friday, July 27, 2012

EYES ON LONDON: Olympics Games 2012 begin

Olympics Games 2012 begin
The Olympic rings light up the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)
LONDON (AP) -- Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:

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WAIT IS OVER

The march of nations into the stadium right now couldn't fail to move anyone.

Some of the countries are getting bigger cheers than others - anywhere with a name including the word British in it gets a slightly bigger one, of course.

This is something that we have watched on TV as children and adults, but it feels different that it is happening right here, right now and in London. I think it really feels now like the wait is over.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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A CHANGE IN TONE

There has been a change in tone. The lights are up, and as the athletes make their way around the stadium, cameras are flashing on the blue background like twinkling stars.

The only thing that might not be sitting well with the Brits right now is the fact that everything is being said in French first. The French coming first in anything is not good as far as the English are concerned.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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IS THAT FRENCH?

Yes, French is the official Olympic language. And yes, of course it has a place in an Olympic opening ceremony.

Nevertheless, it's still kind of striking - at least, from the perspective of an American and the Brit sitting next to him - to hear the sounds of French ring out in the stadium of a one-time empire that was conquered by the French nearly 1,000 years ago.

(History lesson for context: William the Conqueror, a Norman, invaded England in 1066 and defeated King Harold, infusing many things French into England for hundreds of years to come.)

- Ted Anthony - Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted

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ABIDE WITH ME

For those wondering, that was "Abide by me" - a Christian hymn that was sung as the Titanic went down, according to survivors. It's also been the prelude to England's soccer FA Cup final for many years.

- Ian Phillips - Twitter http://twitter.com/phillipsian

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ON SPOILERS

The Olympics used to be able to get away with tape delaying events in far off time zones without anyone knowing what happened until they watched it at home.

Not anymore. Social media has taken that all away, making it harder and harder for people who prefer to watch the event on TV be surprised when they sit down on their couch hours after it actually happened.

After I tweeted a grainy picture of James Bond parachuting in, several of my followers back home in the States complained.

"SPOILERS!" (at)tomdar tweets. "We don't get it here for another three hours."

Sorry dude. This is the world that we live in.

-Jon Krawczynski - Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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ROCK AND RAP

Crikey, those flames were hot. The party has started. Did anyone ever think that Brits were reserved? We know how to rock and, as Dizzee Rascal is proving, we also know how to rap.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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HUMO(U)R ...

We are seeing a bit of the British self-deprecating humour here. A montage of things that we love, but also embarrassing things we have done in the past that we love to laugh about.

The famous denial by a BBC weatherman that there will not be a hurricane - that was a big one. And a reference to "The Archers," a quaint radio soap about the British countryside that people love but would never admit to it.

For the record: It is cracking.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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LENNON'S TAKE

Finally: The Beatles make an appearance in the story of Britain. Which begs the question: What would John Lennon think of all this? Would he love it or skewer it?

He'd probably manage to do both at once.

- Ted Anthony - Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted

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CLICHE - BUT OK

So far a lot of the British cliches have come out, but they have been subtle. The NHS, the worker, the British nanny and Mr. Bean. It is a reflection of all things British but it is also a way of telling the world what we gave them.

Of course, we wouldn't boast. But a little reminder now and again doesn't hurt.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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HER MAJESTY

The queen sure knows how to draw a crowd. As she allegedly parachuted down to Olympic Park, a mad rush of those outside the stadium ensued.

Observers sprinted to the area, hoping to catch a glimpse.

"It's the queen!"

Alas, "she" landed too far away to be seen by most outside the arena.

- Jon Krawczynski - Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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BRITAIN'S NHS

In Britain, you'll often hear gripes about waiting lists, wards and distant dates for operations. But don't read too much into that. There's little the country cherishes more than its National Health Service - introduced as a free health care system after World War II. That tribute just now at the opening ceremony will have gone down very well in the UK.

- Ian Phillips - Twitter - http://twitter.com/phillipsian

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COMPRESSED STORYTELLING

Rarely in any forum but the Olympics is an entire country distilled in one performance. In short: You don't usually see medieval farmers, National Health Service nurses, James Bond and an evil "Harry Potter" character in one place. Plus: Molten metal and Mary Poppins. How do you choose from more than a millennium of history? What important stuff gets left out?

- Ted Anthony - Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted

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THEY'RE REALLY NURSES

Some of the nurses dancing in this segment of the opening ceremony aren't just dancers. They're ... nurses.

- Danica Kirka - Twitter - http://twitter.com/danicakirka

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BOND. JAMES BOND

The crowd went absolutely wild at "Good Evening Mister Bond." If there are two things that many Britons love right now it is the Queen and James Bond. Put them together and you are on a winner. More surprisingly I cannot remember the Queen

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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JUST LIKE BEING THERE

A technologically savvy volunteer worker did his best to circumvent not having a ticket to the big show.

He stood just across the bridge from the stadium and streamed the ceremony on his cell phone. A crowd of six more disenfranchised workers quickly gathered around him.

"That's 10 a piece please," Timothy Harris joked.

Thank heaven for technology. He worried his power may run out before the show ended, so he was lining up others for potential replacements.

As the helicopters lowered the glowing rings into the stadium everyone oohed and ahttp://wwwed .

"That is fantastic," Harris said. "Well done guys."

So close, but so far away.

"It's seriously sad," one woman said.

-Jon Krawczynski - Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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A CONSUMING TALE

This is really showing the unique story of Britain and Britons. A mix of humble workers and aristocracy. It isn't over the top; it is understated yet somehow powerful.

Brits don't like to overplay things. The silence of the narrative says everything that needs to be said.

And yet: I just noticed that my foot has been beating the rhythm this whole time.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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HIGH-SPEED HISTORY

It is really incredible to see the transformation into an industrial society. So shocking. It must have been like this for the people of rural England in some way, really. It was all happening so quickly. Things familiar, then suddenly so dark. And scary.


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NO TICKETS, STILL HAPPY

A group of 10 Nigerians didn't let a few rain drops, or the fact that they didn't have tickets to the opening ceremony, dampen their spirits.

They laughed, danced, clapped their hands and sang songs near the entrance to Olympic Park.

They yelled in unison: "We represent Nigeria!"

- Jon Krawczynski - Twitter http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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JERUSALEM

The first song, Jerusalem, is often used when England needs its own anthem. God Save The Queen is actually the British National Anthem. This is a real nod to England, but there's a lot of Irish, Welsh and Scottish imagery on show too.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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FIRST IMAGES

The Clash. The Sex Pistols. Lily Allen. Pink Floyd. London's Olympics open with a fast-moving montage of the UK that immediately summons the musical tradition of the past generation of British music. "God save the Queen," sing the Sex Pistols. The music moves on before the second line: "She ain't no human bein'."

- Ted Anthony - Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted

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THE GAMES BEGIN

The 2012 London Olympic Games have begun.

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RUGBY!

The scene moments before the ceremony begins: The sheep and other animals are leaving. The cameras are still flashing. Around the stadium people in old-fashioned clothes are playing rugby. Besides football (as we call it here) rugby is one of the most popular team sports in Britain. And we invented it.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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RETICENT BRITS

Brits are a little stubborn by nature. The part of the proceedings labelled "Audience Training" where they are told what to do is interesting because they are really throwing themselves into the practice tasks they are being given.

They'll be controlling big bouncy balls thrown into the stands and passing large silk sheets over their heads.

The final word from the people giving instructions: "DO participate."

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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PERFORMERS PREPARE

Behind Olympic Stadium lies a staging area for some participants in the opening ceremony. They gather and hear an encouraging organizer yell through a megaphone: "Break a leg!"

Then they walk a bridge over the River Thames and into the stadium. It's quite a breathtaking entrance for the biggest show on the planet, and some just have to let out primal screams as they prepare for their big moment.

-Jon Krawczynski - Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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JOKING ABOUT THE WEATHER

The emcee in Olympic Stadium is cracking jokes about the weather: "We need the rain! It wouldn't be the London Olympics without rain!"

- Cassandra Vinograd - Twitter http://twitter.com/cassvinograd

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IT'S RAINING!

It just had to happen. It's started to rain inside the Olympic Stadium

"Don't worry! Don't worry! It's only a little flat rain," said an organizer through a megaphone as a group of performers dressed as milk maids started to pick up the pace on the way inside.

- Jon Krawczynski - Twitter http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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LIKE A FARMYARD

The animals have just come into the stadium. That is 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and nine geese. One of those horses is a shire horse. The music is starting to build and there are camera flashes all around the stadium. What will the animals make of that?

- Fergus Bell - Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb

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MANY COLORS

They've come from all over for these games and this opening ceremony. Fans seen filing into Olympic Stadium wearing the colors of Canada, Mexico, Poland, Italy, Russia, Germany, Brazil and seemingly all points in between.

That includes the most well-represented nation, of course: Team GB.

- Jon Krawczynski - Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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NO RAIN - YET

There's been so much talk about the British weather and if rain would spoil the opening ceremony. Well, it's still anyone's guess.

AP's John Krawczynski, outside the main stadium in Olympic Park, says: "It's cool with a light breeze and no rain. But it does feel as though it could rain at any moment."

- Jon Krawczynski - Twitter http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski

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ELECTRIC ATMOSPHERE

The atmosphere is absolutely electric. We have already had a few attempts at doing the wave. Crew members in white coveralls and painter hats are parading these clouds around the stadium. Music up. Cheers up. scenes playing on the screens of past Olympians and young kids.

- Danica Kirka - Twitter http://twitter.com/danicakirka

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CEREMONY SECURITY

Security lines, or lack thereof, are moving easily at the Olympic Park. It does feel a bit like stumbling onto a military base - fresh-faced young soldiers in uniform are everywhere, and every single X-ray machine and scanner is manned by soldiers rather than other organizing committee staff.

So many soldiers that some are just standing around, waiting for a crushof spectators that has not yet materialized.

- Cassandra Vinograd - Twitter http://twitter.com/cassvinograd

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EDITOR'S NOTE - "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item, and get even more AP updates from the Games here: http://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Olympics games 2012
Britain's David Beckham (C) drives a powerboat with the Olympic torch as fireworks are launched over Tower Bridge during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Olympics games 2012
Performers take part in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012.
 
News by AP

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