EYES ON LONDON: Crowd fired up as ceremony nears

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Emily Atha waits for the start of the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London.(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

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:



The animals have just come into the stadium. That is 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and nine geese. One of those horses is a shire horse. The music is starting to build and there are camera flashes all around the stadium. What will the animals make of that?

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb



They've come from all over for these games and this opening ceremony. Fans seen filing into Olympic Stadium wearing the colors of Canada, Mexico, Poland, Italy, Russia, Germany, Brazil and seemingly all points in between.

That includes the most well-represented nation, of course: Team GB.

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski



There's been so much talk about the British weather and if rain would spoil the opening ceremony. Well, it's still anyone's guess.

AP's John Krawczynski, outside the main stadium in Olympic Park, says: "It's cool with a light breeze and no rain. But it does feel as though it could rain at any moment."

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski



The atmosphere is absolutely electric. We have already had a few attempts at doing the wave. Crew members in white coveralls and painter hats are parading these clouds around the stadium. Music up. Cheers up. scenes playing on the screens of past Olympians and young kids.

— Danica Kirka — Twitter http://twitter.com/danicakirka



Security lines, or lack thereof, are moving easily at the Olympic Park. It does feel a bit like stumbling onto a military base — fresh-faced young soldiers in uniform are everywhere, and every single X-ray machine and scanner is manned by soldiers rather than other organizing committee staff.

So many soldiers that some are just standing around, waiting for a crushof spectators that has not yet materialized.

— Cassandra Vinograd — Twitter http://twitter.com/cassvinograd



Maya Moore has spent so much time with the Obama family, she could be an honorary member.

She was the only female basketball player invited to play with the President in a game to celebrate his 49th birthday in 2010. She also did a soon to be released public service announcement with Michelle Obama in May supporting the "Let's Move!" campaign.

The two shared a hug and chatted for a few minutes Friday morning after the first lady opened her stint as leader of the U.S. Olympics delegation attending a breakfast with Olympians.

"That was a little treat," Moore says. "Any time I can see the president or first lady it's such a treat. She's someone who you can relate to because she's very active and enjoys sports. We know that whole family loves basketball."

— Doug Feinberg — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg



Less than an hour before showtime and excited visitors are filing into Olympic Stadium.

Tarik Lacene, a Canadian who lives in London, scored tickets to the opening ceremony.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Lacene says. "It's amazing to think that over 1 billion people will be watching it on TV and we're actually here."

— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/APkrawczynski



From AP's Fergus Bell in place and awaiting the opening ceremony:

"A Mexican wave just started. The crowd are getting fired up. The scene is set on the stage in front of me depicting a rural idyll. There are tractors and a water wheel. There is a small cottage in the middle with two smoking chimneys. I have seen similar scenes in the English countryside but this looks a little cleaner, a little more fairytale.

— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb



AP's Cassandra Vinograd reports from the streets — well, the railway tracks — of London:

This reporter was in a bit of a panic — left work late and wondered how she would ever get through the crowds to board a train to Olympic Park.

But tubes were not crowded and St. Pancras International, where you catch the high speed Javelin train, is a breeze. There were no lines whatsoever to get on the Javelin — despite crowd-flow measures (barricades, like what airports use for long check-in lines). The line spaces were all empty.

The only glitch was a few travelers grumbling over a broken ticket machine, leaving only one working dispenser on the Javelin platform.

But no worries in the end. With so few jostling for space, everyone got a ticket in time.

—Cassandra Vinograd — Twitter http://twitter.com/cassvinograd



Egypt's Olympic team won't be wearing knockoffs after all at the London Games.

Nike announced Friday it was donating its gear to the Egyptian athletes. This after the country's committee chairman said they'd turned to a Chinese distributor because the real thing was just too expensive.

Not so during the opening ceremony, though. Nike's shipment isn't due to arrive in London until Saturday.

— Maria Sanminiatelli — Twitter http://twitter.com/SanMin68



The widow of Alexander Litvinenko, the exiled former Russian agent who died from a mysterious case of radiation poisoning, is calling on Londoners to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to the Olympics.

Litvinenko issued a statement shortly before his 2006 death, accusing Putin of ordering him to be poisoned. He had been living in London since fleeing Russia in 2000. In a book written in exile, he accused Russia's main security agency, for which he once worked, of staging the 1999 apartment building bombings that were blamed on Chechen rebels and used as a justification for starting the second Chechen war.

British-Russian relations suffered a serious setback in 2007 after Russia refused to extradite the man that Britain named as the main suspect in Litvinenko's death.

Marina Litvinenko on Friday issued a statement saying "Mr. Putin's agents killed my husband" and called on Londoners wo wear white ribbons, the emblem of the Russian opposition, to proest Putin's visit Aug. 2 that is to include watching the judo.

— Jim Heintz — Twitter http://twitter.com/jeheintz



AP's Jenna Fryer reports from the streets of London:

Is there no such thing as a sports bar here?

Looking for a pub where I can hang with the locals and watch the opening ceremony is proving to be more challenging than I expected.

Since arriving, I've noticed that not that many pubs have televisions, so I've had to ask around for recommendations for the ceremonies. The first two I called — one of which was the favorite watering hole of the late Amy Winehouse — said they had no plans to show the ceremonies. "Tonight's just a regular pub night," I was told.

It seemed strange to see bars without TV's, but to not have such a big event blaring from every television in the country tonight is just bizarre.

— Jenna Fryer — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennafryer



Double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius has arrived in London for his historic debut at the Olympics and says he's feeling "a mixture of pride, happiness and anticipation" at the end of his long journey to compete at the highest level in able-bodied competition.

Pistorius made the short flight across from his training camp in northern Italy and says he's "really excited" to attend the opening ceremony.

The South African has been battling for four years to reach the 2012 games. He was cleared to compete against able-bodied competitors on his carbon fiber blades in 2008, ran two qualifying times for London in the last 12 months, but missed out on the crucial third under his country's strict qualifying criteria.

But the selectors had a last-minute change of heart weeks before the games and picked him for the individual 400 meters as well as the 4x400 relay.

In an email to the AP, Pistorius says: "This feels like a long time coming and I am ready! This is going to be, I hope, an incredible few weeks of my life."

His first run at the Olympics will be in the 400 heats on Aug. 4. It'll be history.

— Gerald Imray — Twitter http://twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP



Food choices are simple at the ExCel arena, the giant convention center hosting seven Olympic disciplines. Because McDonald's has exclusive rights to sell branded products, the dozen concessions at the venue are prohibited from using a specific name.

So, here's what's on offer on large signs:

—"Traditional Roast."



—"Italian" or "Chinese."

— "Baked Potato" — which, by the way, is often called a "jacket potato" in these parts.

— Stephen Wade — Twitter http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP



You get the sense that LeBron James doesn't want to hear another word about it.

"Who's better — 1992 or 2012?" That's been a talking point for weeks, the comparison between the 1992 Dream Team that went to Barcelona and this year's Olympic team.

"It's never going to happen," James said Friday of a hypothetical game between the two teams. "It doesn't matter how much conversation that we have about this team and the '92 Dream Team. It's never going to be played. Father Time is not going to allow that to happen. So it doesn't even matter."

That wasn't his way of downplaying expectations about what to expect from the U.S. squad in London.

Quite the contrary.

James, who won the NBA MVP award, the NBA Finals MVP award and led the Miami Heat to the title this past season, is fully expecting to add Olympic gold to his unbelievable year.

"I know one thing," James said. "I know we have a great team. And if we play as a team, like we're capable of doing, we can be one of the best teams ever assembled.

— Tim Reynolds — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds


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