London 2012: Pre-show for Olympic Games opening ceremony begins

The pre-show for the London 2012 Games opening ceremony has started.

An audience of thousands is watching the show live in the Olympic Stadium, while close to a billion people are expected to tune in on television.

The pre-show will be followed by the opening ceremony at 9pm, which will include the show directed by Danny Boyle. Remember to keep an eye on our live blog, where we will be posting our reactions and yours to the proceedings.

The opening ceremony includes a series of elements that must be included in every opening ceremony, including the welcoming of the head of state - the Queen - at the entrance to the Olympic Stadium by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge.

The parade of athletes will see the Greek team come into the Stadium first, followed by the other teams in alphabetical order, and then Team GB.

Once all the nations have arrived Seb Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will give a speech, followed by Mr Rogge. They will end their speeches by inviting the Queen to officially declare the Games open.

The Olympic Flag is then carried into the Stadium and hoisted into the air as the respective anthem is played. The Olympic Charter states that each flag must fly for the entire duration of the Games – placed in a prominent position in the main Stadium.

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A participating athlete, judge and coach from the host nation will stand on the rostrum and, holding a corner of the IOC flag in their left hand and raising their right, take the Oath, vowing to compete and judge according to the rules of their respective sport.

The big finale is the entrance of the Olympic Flame into the Stadium. It is passed through the athletes to the final torchbearer, who will ceremoniously light the Cauldron, indicating the beginning of the Games. The Flame will continue to burn for the whole of the Games.

A team of 16 specially selected service personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force will raise the Union and Olympic flags at the opening ceremony.

In total, 176 individuals from all three services have been chosen as flag bearers at more than 100 team welcome and 805 victory ceremonies across the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as the opening ceremony.

One of those chosen to represent the Royal Navy is Warrant Officer John Hiscock QGM RM, from Epsom, Surrey. He has served 26 years in the Royal Marines, and been to Northern Island, Sierra Leone and Iraq and is a recipient of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his actions on Operation Telic.

He said: “It is an immense privilege to represent the Royal Navy and Royal Marines on home soil at such a prestigious global event. The opening ceremony is a unique opportunity to highlight the significant contribution made by the UK Armed Forces both at home and overseas.”

To coincide with the opening ceremony there is a celebration concert at Hyde Park, which will feature music from Snow Patrol, Stereophonics, Duran Duran and Paolo Nutini.