Olympics get under way
Fri, July 27, 2012 - 5:23 PM
London (CNN) -- The 2012 Summer Olympics officially began with a flourish on Friday night in London with a stirring ode to Britain's history, with thundering drumbeats and resounding songs echoed around the packed Olympic Stadium.
Tens of thousands more congregated in "fan zones" around the British capital to watch the festivities on big screens. Overcast skies and sporadic drenching showers did little to diminish the enthusiasm around the nation and city, as London welcomed the world as an Olympics host for the third time.
Organizers have said they expected a billion people worldwide to watch the ceremony -- which was created by Danny Boyle, best known for directing the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" -- on television.
The show opened with a scene dubbed "Green and Pleasant," after a line from poet William Blake's "Jerusalem," that featured an idyllic view of a British countryside. Rolling hills, fields and rivers -- complete with picnicking families, sports being played on a village green and farmyard animals -- made up the elaborate set.
Hundreds of volunteers dressed in period costumes walked, danced and otherwise performed as music played. The set soon transformed into one featuring factories, recalling the Industrial Revolution, including large smokestacks emerging from below.
Some athletes competed in advance of Friday night's formal kick-off, including members of multiple men's and women's football squads. Earlier in the day, for instance, all 128 competing archers took part in a preliminary round at Lord's Cricket Ground in London to determine seedings for team and individual competitions.
Three South Korean archers took the top three seedings in the men's individual round, with the winner, Im Dong-hyun -- who is legally classified as blind -- setting a world record in the process, according to the official website for the Games.
Hours earlier, the day got off to a resounding start as bells around the country pealed for three minutes, including more than 40 chimes from London's famous Big Ben clock tower.
- Editor's Choice