Queen Elizabeth II declared the 30th Olympic Games open in London amidst thunderous cheers from the capacity crowd of 80,000 signalling the launch of the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet and the night sky lit up with dazzling fireworks.
The 27 million pound three-and-a-half-hour long opening ceremony, which magically transformed the stadium into a rural British idyll, complete with cows, horses, sheep and dogs and synthetic clouds to provide traditional British rain, was designed by Oscar winning film director Danny Boyle to give Britons a “picture of ourselves as a nation”.
More than 10,000 performers took part in the opening extravaganza which vividly brought about the countryside scenes — a cricket pitch, traditional cottages, mining wheel and people dressed in the Victorian era.
Former England football captain David Beckham brought the Olympic flame on a speedboat on the Thames river before handing it over to five-time Olympic gold medallist rower Sir Steve Redgrave.
A group of seven athletes nominated by British Olympic champions then took the flame from Redgrave and ran around the stadium before lighting the Games’ Couldron made up of 204 copper petals carried in by teams from across the world.
The competitive action will unfold tomorrow as around 10,500 athletes from 204 countries affiliated to the International Olympic Committee will battle for glory and honour in 39 disciplines in the next 17 days.