LONDON (AP) — Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:
HERE THEY COME:
Olympic Park is open for business. Officials threw open the gates to the public on Friday afternoon and the once quiet paths of the park were immediately flooded with visitors.
A group of three dozen or so schoolchildren from London, including one excited young boy with the Olympic rings and "2012" carved on either side of his mohawk-topped head, scurried toward Olympic Stadium offering high fives and fist bumps to every person they passed.
— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski
FRENCH PARTY HQ
France's Olympic team has transformed a building on the Thames into party headquarters during the London Games.
In the shadow of Tower Bridge, "Club France" has it all: fashion, food, music, and — of course — marketing.
There was no shortage of corporate sponsors on hand Thursday night to mix and mingle with French athletes, and San Antonio guard Tony Parker was easily the star attraction. The point guard, who nearly lost his left eye when he was struck by a piece of broken glass during a brawl at a New York night club, bounced from room to room, shaking hands, taking pictures and making everyone feel welcome.
— Tom Withers — Twitter http://twitter.com/twithersAP
It was a bit of a nail-biter for Zara Phillips, Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter, as she trotted her horse before a panel of judges and veterinarians for a pre-competition equestrian check-up Friday.
Phillips, 31, who is on the British eventing team, had to run High Kingdom down the track an unusual two times after the vet wanted another look.
High Kingdom had been a bit frisky, and on the second run down the track Phillips glared at photographers who were shooting as the horse rounded the turn.
After a seemingly unending half-minute huddle, vet and judges pronounced High Kingdom "accepted" and fit for the grueling triptych of eventing competition that starts Saturday: dressage, cross country and jumping.
The collective held breath in the stadium was released and applause rang out.
— Nicole Winfield — http://twitter.com/nwinfield
Update the roster at Wimbledon for Olympic tennis.
Laura Robson of Britain will play singles at the Olympics, replacing Petra Martic of Croatia after she pulled out because of injury.
Robson, a hometown fan favorite who is also playing doubles, will face Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in the first round. Robson won the Wimbledon junior title in 2008, and expectations have been high ever since. But she has won only of her five matches in four main draw appearances.
The last British woman to win the Wimbledon titles was Virginia Wade in 1977.
— Chris Lehourites — Twitter http://twitter.com/chrislehourites
CHEERFUL, BUT A PROTEST
AP's Colin Adams is in the neighborhood outside Olympic Park:
I arrived at Stratford at lunchtime today ready for a long shift. Stratford is buzzing with excitement. I could hear whistles and horns and people shouting — sounded like a great party atmosphere.
On closer inspection, though, I found a crowd of protesters outside Westfield Mall, adjacent to the park. They were the ones blowing the whistles and causing the commotion. They were protesting about the pay and conditions of the cleaners on London's transport systems.
All very good natured and up-beat, but could we be seeing dirty trains during the Olympics?
See a glimpse here: http://pic.twitter.com/9GItgFlg
— Colin Adams — Twitter http://twitter.com/coladams
TOO MANY MEETINGS
Ah, the London Olympics.
The enthusiastic crowds. The historic sites.
The beach volleyball players, their coaches, trainers and team leaders were called together for a technical meeting on Friday morning, the day before the competition begins at Horse Guards Parade. The agenda: A rundown of the schedules and logistics that will dominate their lives until the medals are awarded on Aug. 8 and 9.
After a rousing welcome from FIVB President Jizhong Wei, there were briefings from the medical delegate, the press delegate, the venue manager, the head of the referees and anyone else they might come in contact with during the games.
Some athletes recorded the occasion on their smartphones. Others tapped away with text messages or, for all we know, Angry Birds.
After all, meetings are meetings, even at the Olympics.
— Jimmy Golen — Twitter http://twitter.com/jgolen
FOR OLYMPIC WEARINESS
Olympic fever is consuming London. But if the games don't get you going, The Guardian newspaper is offering a "Hide the Olympics" button its website.
A spokesperson for the British newspaper said the reasoning behind the button — which went live on Wednesday — is that the Olympics are expected to take up a lot of space on their homepage and some users might want a quick and convenient way to get regular news content. The Guardian tried something similar during last year's royal wedding.
— Cassandra Vinograd — Twitter http://twitter.com/cassvinograd
PLAYING IT SAFE
Every shuttle bus carrying media into the Olympic Park isn't getting past the gates without a thorough inspection.
Armed soldiers walk the buses inspecting credentials, while others use a mirror on a long handle to look for anything suspicious under the bus. They have to be more on alert at the bus entrance because media are let into the perimeter of the park before they get to the metal detectors to be inspected personally.
— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski
WHAT WILL I WEAR?
If something doesn't happen fast, Spain's Pau Gasol will be looking a little casual when he carries his national flag at Friday's opening ceremony.
He still hasn't received his official team clothing. Perhaps it's a height issue? The Los Angeles Lakers star isn't the easiest person to dress given that he's 2.15 meters (7 foot) tall.
"Everything's up in the air," says Gasol.
— Jorge Sainz — Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Sainz-Jorge
Carly Patterson is back at an Olympics for the first time since winning the gymnastics all-around title in Athens, and she's enjoying the trip down memory lane.
"Honestly, in my everyday life at home, I'm no one special. Just Carly, going about my everyday life, cleaning my house," says Patterson, who doesn't even have her gold medal in her own house. "So it feels really nice to actually be reminded of what I've done because I don't think about it a lot. And I am proud of it."
Patterson, the first U.S. woman since Mary Lou Retton to win the all-around title, is in London with P&G. She showed off another of her talents Friday, singing the national anthem at the opening ceremony for P&G's U.S. Family Home.
— Nancy Armour — Twitter http://twitter.com/nrarmour
TEST OF FIRE
U. S. rider Boyd Martin passed his first Olympic hurdle Friday as his horse Otis Barbotiere was accepted in the veterinary inspection that signaled the start of the equestrian eventing competition at Greenwich Park.
He faced a much more perilous trial in the spring of 2011 when his training barn west of Philadelphia caught fire in the middle of the night. Martin ran into the flaming barn and saved several horses, including Otis Barbotiere — but seven other horses perished.
— Margaret Freeman — Twitter http://twitter.com/MFequestrian
There's only one thing that people here in the Olympic Park talk about when they have the chance on Friday — and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Yes, even the most seasoned of hacks are taking part in the guessing game about the Olympic ceremony. Who will light the flame, and just how British can it really get?
Will Mary Poppins really be there? What about Harry Potter? And how will James Bond make his appearance? Is it possible to work a Briton's favourite (yes, FAVOURITE) canned food — baked beans — into an opening ceremony?
In just a couple of hours we'll all know. Luckily there is a bit of sport coming up for everyone to talk about next.
— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb
AFTER THE RIOTS, A REWARD
He was the online organizer who urged Londoners to grab their brooms and take to the streets after the August 2011 riots that saw stores looted and cars torched in the capital's worst unrest in decades.
Now activist Dan Thompson is among 17 people who were handed free tickets for Friday's Olympic opening ceremony by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Thompson used social networks to mobilize volunteers to sweep up debris in communities across London after nights of violent disorder.
Cameron has also offered tickets to youth workers and graduates of Britain's National Citizen Service, a program which sees young people carry out community work.
— David Stringer - Twitter http://twitter.com/david_stringer
Dozens of people have been turned away from the archery event in central London — victims, it seems, of hoax tickets.
Others arrived at Lord's Cricket Ground because of a misunderstanding. They thought the event — billed as "unticketed" — meant you could just turn up on the day.
Many vented their anger at volunteers but were told that their tickets — presumably purchased from unofficial sites — weren't valid because Friday's preliminary rounds weren't even open to the public.
Meanwhile, inside, South Korea's team scored a world record with 2,087 points to take first place.
— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski.
EDITOR'S NOTE — "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item, and get even more AP updates from the Games here: http://twitter.com/AP_Sports