28 Jul 2012

Spectacular ceremony opens Olympic Games

11:58 am on 28 July 2012

Flagbearer Nick Willis has led a contingent of 60 New Zealand athletes into London's Olympic Stadium at the spectacular opening ceremony.

Wearing a Maori cloak, the middle distance runner led the team dressed in black uniforms adorned with the Silver Fern and the constellation of the Southern Cross.

The chef de mission Dave Currie was delighted with the New Zealand turnout for the parade as only 39 of the 184-strong team had been expected to take part due to the timing of their events.

The Queen declared the London games officially open near the end of nearly four hours of spectacle at the Olympic Stadium.

The BBC reports seven young athletes were given the honour of lighting the ceremonial flame.

Tour de France winner, Briton Bradley Wiggins, rang the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world to start the show before a crowd of about 80,000.

The voices of children from the four corners of Britain then intertwined and spectators saw an historical pageant of meadows and smokestacks.

A film featuring an encounter between the Queen and James Bond prompted laughter and cheers.

A musical montage included some of the classics of British rock such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, David Bowie and The Sex Pistols.

More than a billion people around the world are estimated to have watched the official start to 17 days of drama involving more than 16,000 athletes from 204 countries.

The Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle has masterminded the show, which is costing about £27 million, less than half of the Beijing extravaganza.

Entitled Isle of Wonder and inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, Boyle's spectacle took viewers on a journey from what poet William Blake famously called England's green and pleasant land to the dark Satanic mills of the Industrial Revolution.