Excitement is building across Britain as it prepares for the official start of the Summer Olympic Games on Friday night.
One of the biggest secrets in London will finally be revealed as what organizers expect to be a billion people worldwide watch the opening ceremony created by Danny Boyle, best known for the Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Meanwhile, 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.
The Olympic torch, which has traveled around the United Kingdom over the past 70 days, then set off on the final leg of its journey toward Olympic Stadium, aboard the royal barge Gloriana.
Rowers propelled the vessel, which played a central role in Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee celebrations, down the River Thames from Hampton Court to Tower Bridge.
Former Olympian rower Matthew Pinsent, tasked with carrying the flame on to the barge, said it was “a huge day for London.”
Crowds lined the river’s banks to cheer the torch along, adding to the more than 13 million who’ve turned out to watch it pass in the course of its 8,000-mile journey, according to the government.
International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge declared the capital all set to host the world’s greatest sporting event.
The IOC has “reviewed all the operational items, and I can say with pleasure that London is ready and we are eagerly waiting for the opening ceremony,” he told reporters.
Just over 7,000 of the 10,500 athletes taking part in the Games have now arrived in the United Kingdom, the British government said.
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama met with members of Team USA at a breakfast Friday morning at the U.S. Olympic Training Facility, hours before she will lead the delegation as the athletes parade at the opening ceremony.