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28 July 2012

Countdown Clock in Trafalgar Square reaches zero

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The Opening Ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games was one of the most anticipated events in the history of entertainment and on Friday night, with the world watching, it lived up to its expectations.

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle had promised to present a humorous and vibrant vision of quintessential Great Britain and he delivered on that pledge with a stages that evolved from a bucolic countryside scene with sheep, horses, chickens and geese to a 19th century London skyline with tall, smoke-belching chimneys. Boyle and his staff engaged a cast and crew of more than 10,000.

 

The programme was divided into sections including a creative trip down the River Thames to the Olympic Stadium. The moment that the Countdown Clocks in Trafalgar Square and Greenwich reached zero was signalled by the ringing of a giant bell, struck by British Tour de France Champion Bradley Wiggins.

 

Following the sections dedicated to the British countryside (“Green and Peaceful Land”) and the Industrial Revolution (“Pandemonium”) – the latter included a reading from The Tempest by actor Kenneth Branagh – there was a segment featuring OMEGA’s fictional ambassador James Bond portrayed by its very real ambassador Daniel Craig. Bond was introduced in a short film in which he played a supporting role to Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. Following the film sequence which offered a dramatic but unlikely entrance to the Stadium by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, were introduced to a tumultuous ovation.

 

Following the traditional Athletes’ Parade, there were speeches by Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee and Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC. When they had concluded their remarks, the Olympic flag was raised and Queen Elizabeth declared the Games open.

 

In the age of social media, Boyle had done a remarkable job of keeping some of the highlights of the show secret. There had been speculation over who, among Great Britain’s musical heritage-makers, would take to the stage at the Opening Ceremony. In a night filled with performances by top British musicians, the Arctic Monkeys played a two-song set including the Beatles’ tune “Come Together”. Two more selections from the Fab Four would follow at the end of the night when Sir Paul McCartney sang “The End” from Abbey Road before closing with Hey Jude.

 

Describing the Opening Ceremony, OMEGA President Stephen Urquhart said, “For me, as a Briton by birth, it was a proud moment. Danny Boyle and his team were able to capture perfectly the essence of this amazing, diverse land in the space of a few hours. As a spectator, I was both entertained and moved. Of course, for OMEGA in its role as Official Timekeeper, what lies ahead in the next 16 day and then at the Paralympic Games s is the culmination of our years of preparation in London and we’re looking forward to those challenges. This Opening Ceremony was a great way to kick it off.”

 

OMEGA is serving in its capacity as Official Olympic Games Timekeeper for the 25th time since 1932. At the London 2012 Olympic Games, the brand has deployed a team of 450 timekeeping and data handling professionals who are supported by nearly a thousand trained local volunteers. The 400 tons of equipment they brought from Switzerland – by road, rail and ship – will be used to record and display the results of every event at the Games. Following the Olympic Games, OMEGA will remain in London to deliver the same services to the Paralympic Games.

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