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Thousands descend on Olympic Park ahead of ceremony

From across the UK and the world thousands of people are descending on the Olympic Park in east London in the final moments before tonight's Opening Ceremony.

Fan arrives at the Olympic Stadium in east London Credit: Press Association

The sense of excitement and anticipation among the crowd comes after seven years of planning. It's a moment many at the site in Stratford simply did not want to miss.

Crowds at Stratford getting into the Olympic spirit Credit: ITV News

The moment it was announced the games would be held here I was determined to be at the opening ceremony. I would pay whatever price and try as many times as possible to be here. Now we are here, it is worth it. I just can't wait to be part of such a wonderful national celebration.

– Ashole and Milima Malaiya from Warrington
Crowds arrive at the Olympic Park Credit: ITV News/Kate Hamilton
The stage is set for the Opening Ceremony Credit: ITV News/Kate Hamilton

Back home we heard this was going to be an awesome games and we wanted to make the trip to see it for ourselves. Albanians are expected to do well in the weight lifting so I am looking forward to that. My impression of London so far is very good. Everybody has been very friendly and they all seem excited.

– Roland Likceni, 18, travelled from Albania

The man in charge of tonight's show is Danny Boyle.

  • 15,000 volunteers will bring to life a £27 million extravaganza
  • It promises to celebrate Britain's history and culture
  • A worldwide audience of a billion people are expected to watch

With final rehearsals underway, Danny Boyle sent this tweet.

Flowers being watered at the Olympic Stadium Credit: Press Association

London 2012 has been aptly described as the greatest sporting show on earth but the event also give Britain the chance to strengthen its diplomatic, political and economic ties with the rest of the world.

US First Lady Michelle Obama and US Ambassador Louis Susman attending a reception at Buckingham Palace Credit: Press Association

That process began tonight as The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh hosted presidents, prime ministers and princes from across the globe at Buckingham Palace.

Just a few hours before the opening ceremony, dozens of limousines began arriving at the Palace.

US First Lady Michelle Obama and US Ambassador Louis Susman (left) meet the Duchess of Cambridge Credit: Press Association

Among those invited were US First Lady Michelle Obama, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who wants to end the tradition of her country having a British monarch as head of state.

Prince Harry meets with the President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba Credit: Press Association

The start of the Olympic Games is also being celebrated at the country's second biggest Olympic venue. Down on the Dorset coast in Weymouth, is the centre for sailing events which Britain has dominated in recent Games. Lewis Vaughan Jones is there.

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