Olympic Games curtain-raiser tonight (if the cabbies don't spoil it)


London has begun the final countdown to the 2012 Olympic Games, more than seven years after it was named as the host city.

More than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries are preparing to compete for the coveted Olympic gold medals, while the big stage rehearsals for Friday’s £27m opening ceremony have now been completed.

The high-speed Javelin rail link, which will ferry passengers from St Pancras in Central London to the Olympic Park in Stratford in just seven minutes, has made its first official journey, while London taxi drivers will stage another protest before the Games begin.

But all eyes will be on the spectacular opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, which Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle believes will be a fitting curtain-raiser for London and everyone who will take part in the Games.

Spoilers for what will take place in the show have been kept to a minimum. Some images and features have been discussed on Twitter, but other people looking forward to what has been dubbed as the first ‘Social Media Games’ used the hashtag #savethesurprise.

“Part of the theme of our show is that this is for everyone,” said Boyle, the mastermind behind the ceremony. “It is very easy to get it out of perspective when you are doing a warm-up act like this and we have not forgotten that perspective.”

The Javelin train service got off to an inauspicious start when the first official train left St Pancras five minutes late on Friday morning. The Southeastern train company had made the 7.04am from Central London to the Park the first of the Olympic service.
But the 140mph Japanese-built train did not depart until 7.09am.

One of the passengers on the train was a chef working in the hospitality area of the Park. He has been travelling to Stratford from Luton via St Pancras for the last few days. He said: “Not one of my trains has been on time. It was 15 minutes late one day.”

However, once the train started moving it raced to the Olympic Park in under seven minutes.

Not everyone has been pleased by the special measures brought in to ensure a smooth Games in London. Taxi drivers will stage another protest on Friday after they were banned from using the Olympic traffic lanes.

It will be the third demonstration held by the drivers, who held up traffic outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster with one protest.

The lanes are designated for Olympics officials and athletes only, but the cabbies believe they should be able to use them.

The demonstration will begin around Hyde Park Corner just hours before the opening ceremony starts.