Let the party begin
The 2012 London Olympics countdown ends tomorrow as Egypt's quest for medals starts, Inas Mazhar
Tomorrow evening, the world's attention will turn to the opening of the 27th Olympic Games in London. Egypt is taking part with an impressive delegation of 110 athletes -- 77 males and 33 females. This is Egypt's second biggest Olympic delegation following 1984 in Los Angeles.
Egyptians are aiming high and want to beat the odds by doing well in the middle of a revolution and general political upheaval. New President Mohamed Mursi met officials and delegations before they left for London, and encouraged them to make history.
Olympic 2008 bronze medalist judo Hisham Mesbah will carry the Egyptian flag in the opening ceremony.
In Cairo, British Ambassador James Watt is hosting a special event tomorrow at the British Council in Agouza, Cairo. Invited guests and media will have the chance to watch the opening ceremony live on giant screens set up in the gardens of the British Council.
During the two-week event, 10,500 athletes will compete in 26 sports, across 39 disciplines. For the Paralympic Games, which will kick off two weeks later the numbers are 4,200 athletes, 20 sports and 21 disciplines.
Altogether 700 medal events will be held during the two Games in London. The medals have a picture of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, on one side and the 2012 logo on the back. The jagged logo costs £400,000. It was designed to look young and trendy, appearing in shades of pink, blue, green and orange. It took almost a year to devise and make this logo, which wasn't universally well received when it was first unveiled. London 2012 marks the first time that a single logo will be used for both the Olympics and the Paralympics.
The opening ceremony will take place at the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, which will be visited by more than one million people by the conclusion of the Paralympics. The seating capacity will go down to 25,000 after the Games. Standing at 53 metres tall, the stadium reaches three metres higher than Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square in London.
In London 2012, the athletes will consume 25,000 loaves of bread, 232 tonnes of potatoes, 82 tonnes of seafood, 330 tonnes of fruits and vegetables, 31 tonnes of poultry, 100 tonnes of meat, 75,000 litres of milk, 19 tonnes of eggs and 21 tonnes of cheese.
And for warm-ups and actual competitions during the Games, the athletes will be using outstanding numbers of equipment, including 8,400 badminton shuttlecocks, 2,400 footballs, 60 sets of swimming lane ropes, 800 waterpolo balls, 6,000 paper archery targets, 510 adjustable hurdles, 600 basketballs, 26 tape measures, 432 pairs of boxing gloves, 200 gate poles painted red and green for canoeing, 350 ceremonial rosettes for equestrians, 35 fencing pistes, 150 sets of goggles for goal ball, 12 pairs of goalposts for handball, 64 corner post flags for hockey, six wooden saunas for judo and wrestling, 115 life jackets for rowing, 275,000 clay targets for shooting, 2,040 dozen tennis balls, 258 head protectors for taekwondo, 320 swimming caps for the triathlon, 1,630 discs for weightlifting and 90 training dolls for wrestling.
A few days ago, the £308 million International Media and Broadcast Centre received media representatives who will be covering the Games. The centre is large enough to house five jumbo jets side by side.
During the Games, London will be the busiest and most crowded city in the world with an estimated 800,000 people using public transport during the busiest day of events to travel to the Games.
There are 8.8 million tickets available for the Olympic Games. The organisers decided to offer them through a ballot system, which meant that a lot of people missed out on their first preference.
London could be the first city that sells out all the tickets for the Paralympic Games; two million tickets went on sale for 20 sports.
London was awarded the honour to host the 26th edition of the Games after four rounds of voting by members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the 117th IOC session in Singapore on 6 July 2005. London had to overcome stiff competition, in the form of Paris, New York, Moscow and Madrid in its bid to get the Games.
London beat Paris in the final round, emerging triumphant by taking 54 votes from a possible 104.