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2012 Olympic stadium opens

other Updated: May 06, 2012 22:45 IST
AFP
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More than 40,000 spectators watched as a cascade of white balloons was released to open London's Olympic stadium on Saturday, exactly 2,012 hours before the Games begin.

Capping off an evening of music, comedy and fun sports events, Paralympic gold medal-winning archer Danielle Brown shot arrows at spinning targets to select the name of a youngster in the audience to open the east London stadium.

A dazed-looking Niamh Clarke-Willis, 9, joined Sebastian Coe, the chairman of Games organisers LOCOG, in pressing a large button to release the balloons into the chilly night sky over the stadium.

The 80,000-capacity venue hosts the Olympic opening ceremony on July 27.

Coe, himself an Olympic gold medallist, said it felt "barely believable" to be opening the stadium, adding: "I'm just so grateful to everybody who's come here tonight to help us celebrate this moment in history."

"The seven years have just flown by," he said. "Tonight is only the start of the story. We want thousands of young people to be inspired to take up sport. We hope that for a few of them it will be the start of their journey."

Saturday's event, named "2012 Hours to Go: An Evening of Athletics and Entertainment", allowed organisers to test the Olympic Park's airport-style security checks. It was also a major test of London's transport system ahead of the Games as the Underground train network's Jubilee line.

Not so secure A newspaper embarrassed the organisers of the 2012 Olympic Games today by disclosing it had smuggled a fake bomb past two security checkpoints into the London complex housing the sporting festival' main stadiums.

The best-selling Sun newspaper conducted the stunt on Friday, at the end of a week-long pre-Olympics military exercise that saw a warship sail up the River Thames and plans announced to put missiles on rooftops near the Games venue in east London.

The government's Home Office department, responsible for domestic security, said it had asked the Games organisers to investigate the incident and report back urgently to interior minister Theresa May.