The state-of-the-art Olympic velodrome iin Stratford, East London Source: AFP
Thousands of lighs and speaker will be installed in the Olympic Stadium for the ceremony. Picture: AP Source: AP
THE final countdown has begun for the London 2012 Olympics.
With one month to go, finishing touches remain before the Olympic torch enters the stadium on July 27 watched by an anticipated global television audience of one billion people.
The venues from the modern Velodrome to the classic Wimbledon - coupled with Britain's prompt efficiency in running huge events means the London Games are sure to be a knockout.
But with question marks still hanging over security, transport and the typical British lack of enthusiasm, their overall performance could be let down.
Here is our report card.
OPENING & CLOSING CEREMONIES (Grade: A+)
This is where Britain will really shine.The land of hope, glory, pop, rock and punk is sure to show off its creative masterminds and cherished chart toppers.
Expect big names, big songs and even bigger fireworks.There are unconfirmed reports Daniel Craig as James Bond will launch the Games by jumping into the stadium from a helicopter and the Queen herself may also have a cameo role.
Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney will close the Opening Ceremony, and there is hopeful chat he will lead an all-star performance of Hey Jude.
An alleged leaked playlist reveals numbers by the Rolling Stones, Adele, Queen, David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, Coldplay and the opening credits of East Enders.
Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle is at the helm of the AUD $42 million Opening Ceremony extravaganza.
The event is inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, as well as Britain's lush countryside, NHS nursing and the industrial revolution.
Take That tour director Kim Gavin is behind the Closing Ceremony which is themed A Symphony of British Music.
Rumours are rife of a Spice Girls reunion and a performance by One Direction.
Supermodels Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss are also tipped to present creations by British fashion greats Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.
Whether the rumours prove true, the Opening and Closing ceremonies will be a must-see.
09/11/2011 WIRE: (FILES) In a file picture taken on November 9, 2011 police secure the Olympic countdown clock in Trafalgar Square in London as a small group of protesters sit with their tents at the base of Nelson's Column. Britain will have 13,500 troops on duty for the 2012 London Olympics, and will also deploy two warships, warplanes and ground-to-air missiles, the defence minister announced on December 15, 2011. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SORABJI Pic. Afp
SECURITY (Grade: A-)
Security was always going to be the main issue of these Games. The day after the capital was awarded the Games in July 2005, 52 commuters were killed in suicide bomb attacks on London's transport network.
The challenge for Olympic organisers is to find a balance between protection and discretion.
While most Londoners are resigned to the inconvenience of tough security (no bins in busy areas and tube shutdowns over unidentified bags), many are grumbling over the show of muscle power in the lead up to the Games.
Causing the most upset has been proposal to put surface-to-air missiles on top of residential apartment blocks close to the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London.Overzealous police also came under fire during the torch relay when they crash tackled into a hedge an excited spectator who got too close to the flame.
In a further sign of beefed up security, Londons bobbies on the beat are beginning to look more like soldiers on the battlefield, carrying a sub-machine gun, two Glock self-loading pistols and a CS gas grenade.
There are also warships anchored in the Thames, heli-snipers and fighter jets on standby to respond to any attack.M15 admit they are preparing for a wave of terrorism warnings in the final days before the Games begin.
While Al Qaeda is an obvious threat, there is also the growth in the "lone wolf" phenomenon - a harder-to-identify terrorism.
More than 40,000 soldiers, police and private security guards will be deployed in the AUD$1 billion Olympic security effort.
British Prime Minister David Cameron described it as the biggest and most integrated security operation in mainland Britain in our peacetime history.
It is a mighty, and sadly necessary, ring of steel.
OLYMPIC SPIRIT (Grade: B)
Beneath the whinging stereotype, the Brits are a passionate bunch. Just look at last year's Royal Wedding, which swept up even the most sour of cynics.
But they have been slow to embrace the Olympics.
Londoners have little patience for waste of public money, traffic, or excited tourists. It's not that they're rude, they're just constantly cranky.
The lack of enthusiasm has forced London hotels to slash their room prices after weak last-minute bookings.
Millions of Britons have instead booked holidays overseas during the Olympics to escape the crowds, according to travel companies.
But outside the capital support is brewing.About four millions people turned out to cheer the Olympic torch relay. Once the flame enters London and passes Buckingham Palace and Downing Street, fervour will hopefully rise.
Despite assurances from the cash-strapped British Government that the Olympics were under budget by AUD $1 billion, a study by the respected Said Business School at Oxford University predicts the London Games will be the most over budget Olympics in the past 16 years.
If the findings prove true, it will cause uproar. But in the meantime, Team GB is determined to rally the nations spirits with plenty of Gold.
Britain is even sending its biggest swimming squad in history to compete.
Top marks should also go to the wonderful range of Olympic venues, including Lords Cricket Ground for the archery, Wimbledon for the tennis,
Dorset for the sailing and the incredible Olympic Park with its stunning Velodrome. London has a lot to be proud of.
18/01/2012 WIRE: A commuter waits to enter a London Underground train, in east London, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. With half a year to go before the London 2012 Olympics, work is cranking up on the London transport system ahead of the event, that begin July 27 and ends Aug. 12. And nowhere is this more the case than on the London Underground's Jubilee Line, one of two key arteries that will serve both the city center and Olympic Park as well as another big venue, the Excel Center.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis) Pic. Ap
TRANSPORT (Grade: C)
Anyone who has caught the Tube at peak-hour in summer is intimately familiar with the sardine sauna feeling.
On a good day it can take over an hour to cross the sprawling capital. But with an expected nine million Games-goers, transport experts have warned it could take an hour just to get through the turnstiles at Victoria and Charing Cross stations.
Meanwhile, passengers arriving at Heathrow have been warned of hour-long waits as passport control officials are redeployed to cater for athletes in the Olympic-only passport lanes.
Designated Games lanes covering 170 miles of UK roads offer VIPs and athletes a quick journey but are expected to create daily gridlock.
More than 1300 sets of traffic lights are currently being adjusted across the city to help traffic flow in the special Games lanes.
But with an extra three million journeys anticipated on London roads on the busiest days, businesses fear the congestion will cause work delays and taxi drivers warn fares will quadruple.
The Government has requested employers stagger start times and encourage working from home to ease the strain on the crowded network.
London's bike rental scheme, the Boris Bikes, and the Thames cable cars will also provide calmer Games travel options.
Travel chaos is a certainty.
Ticket applications for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games at London's Olympic Stadium are 10 times over-subscribed.
TICKETS (Grade: D)
It was meant to be the fairest Olympic ticketing system but has ended up a fiasco.
Despite promises of plenty of tickets, demand far outstripped supply causing headaches for organisers and desperate Games-goers.
About 1.8 million people applied for the 6.6 million public tickets available in the first round of offers and more than half missed out, including the families of some British athletes competing in the Games.
Further anger was triggered when it was announced that babies born after the ticket sales still needed their own ticket. This rule was later dismissed.
LOCOG's ticketing sales website also seemed plagued with technical glitches and was unable to cope with the demand for tickets.
In some instances it reportedly informed potential buyers they had secured tickets, only to then tell them that they had not.
Then came the Sunday Times investigation last week that claimed 27 official representatives of 54 countries were offering to break the International Olympic Committee rules and sell thousands of tickets for inflated prices on the black market.
The revelations unearthed deep corruption and cronyism within high levels of Olympic power, despite the IOC spending the past decade trying to repair the damage of the Salt Lake City ticket scandal.
There has also been claims of ticket fatigue after recent sales were reportedly sluggish.
But with a single seat at the Opening Ceremony going for AUD $1550, many cash-strapped Brits are reaching for the remote instead of the wallet.
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