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Watch the 2012 London Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony

Whether you're a sports fan or just can't resist watching parades or open flames, the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympics offers great viewing for an expected four billion people worldwide. The theme for the 2012 Games is "Isles of Wonder," and the spectacle took seven years of planning.

Following the established history of Olympic opening ceremonies, the three-hour ceremony beginning at 9 p.m. on July 27 will be a celebration of the host country, a parade of athletes from all the participating countries, and the lighting of the Olympic Flame to officially begin the Games.

Here's more information to know about the opening ceremony:

  • The Isles of Wonder, a title derived from Shakespeare's The Tempest, celebrates the four countries that make up the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) and will showcase some of the greatest British performers, such as Sir Paul McCartney and The Who.

  • Danny Boyle, possibly best known for directing Slumdog Millionaire, and Stephen Daldry, director of Billy Elliot, are responsible for the artistic portion of the ceremony, and they have indicated that it will be a narrative set to music. Live animals will be used in the scenes depicting the British countryside, and children will dance around maypoles representing England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

The parade of 10,000 athletes gives each of the 205 participating countries a chance to display their flags and get their fans fired up for the Games. Following the Greek team, which enters the procession first, athletes from each country will enter alphabetically (based on each country's language), and the Great Britain team, representing the host country, will enter last.

The President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacque Rogge, will greet the host country's head of state, Queen Elizabeth, who gets to declare the Games official open.

Athletes pass the Olympic Flame to the chosen athlete, who gets to light the cauldron, who in the grand tradition of opening ceremonies has not been revealed. The flame continues to burn throughout the entire Games.

For more detailed information on the Olympic Games, see the official London 2012 website.

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