10.30am Only one (stale) cheese sandwich in the Guardian’s canteen and I’m only eating that because I had to dash through the backstreets of King’s Cross pursued by a torch relay runner asking me for a fiver for a souvenir photograph, leaving me with no time to buy something sensible and a six pack of Relentless at Sainsbury’s (Official Olympic Partner). If you’ve any sense, you’ll be watching this parade of the world’s greatest athletes in bed (alone, of course – this is a bit like an OBO after all) with a packet of Cheesy Wotsits and a few cans of multiple unit inhibition-destroyer close at hand. Stay with us today – and indeed for the rest of this interminable “festival of sport” – and you need not speak to another real live human being until it’s all over and we can get back to watching Andrew Strauss make 20. C’mon, you know you want to.
Andy Bull –
The Olympics began in 700BC contested by naked Greeks for the greater glory of the Gods. Now the Games are contested by athletes for whom mere nakedness is not enough to convince sceptics that they are not cheating – WADA’s officials delve inside their bodies to ensure fair play. The Gods are no longer resident high above the hoi polloi’s heads on Mount Olympus: now the new Gods of mammon sit equally high above the hoi polloi’s heads in gleaming glass skyscrapers. But, for all the cynicism that (rightly) greets the Games, look out for Fasta Hiyastronga, the Etritrean shot putter and flag-bearer, whose remarkable story began twenty-five years ago in the midst of famine and war…
Peter Roebuck –
It is the sheer arrogance of “London’s” claim to the Olympics that first astonishes, and then disappoints. The Queen and David Cameron will sit in the Royal Box (the only piece of real estate not sold by the moribund United Kingdom to companies now controlled by its former colonies, companies and countries thrusting into a century that will see them surpass and, one hopes, subjugate their erstwhile masters). The two sit there, unelected symbols of the privilege that infests England like a canker in the ear of a dying dog. Thank God at least one tradition of The Olympics survives and alphabetical order will allow us to see the proud Green and Gold of Australia parade before giving us plenty of time to switch off and miss the knuckle-dragging United Kingdom team foolishly attempt to lord it over the dominions – still in thrall to a dream long since gone.
Gideon Haigh –
Don Bradman was reputed to have prosecuted one of his most bitter arguments with Tiger O’Reilly over the seating arrangements for the Opening Ceremony of Melbourne’s Games of 1956. Religion – need I say – was at the heart of the matter, with George securing himself a front row seat for the event and using his backstage clout to manoeuvre Tiger and Clarrie Grimmet into an uncovered standing-only area in Bay 13. Anger over this calumny was to simmer for thirty years before the remarkable exchange of letters (recently brought to light in the “Bradman Auction” of 2010) brokered an uneasy peace. There are parallels today in the growing unease between Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting, both of whom are present in London, though staying in different hotels. Mateship was never all it’s cracked up to be.
Malcolm Conn –
The old school tie regime that still runs England have secured another Olympics so soon after their last poor excuse for a Games in (sub – please look up) denying Sydney the right to follow up the greatest Games in history in 2000. And, wouldn’t you know, those schemers from the Ol’ Dart have got themselves and their best buddies the USA as top of the bill in the parade, forcing Austraila, like the country-bumpkin rubes they still take us for, to walk on and off smartish like a comic’s warm-up act, at the start of the show and then stand in the sun all afternoon, scuppering the chances of the likes of Brad Okker in the 200m backstroke and Freeman Cathy in the 400m hurdles before they’ve even had a chance. Advance Australia Not Fair again – but it’s the only way these Poms know.
Jonathan Agnew –
“Perhaps the only star more radiant in the galaxy than a July British sun, is our dear old Queen, 86 not out and, if I dare say so Ma’am, batting as strongly as ever for Her Kingdom. It is the honour of the Olympic Games to have Her Majesty give up her valuable time not just to attend, but to take on, despite all the duties that she discharges so wonderfully well with so little fuss, the task of opening the whole affair. How the hearts of every athlete, every lucky spectator in the stadium and the nine billion people watching on television must soar at sight of the Monarch, of her generosity, her spirit, her…”
Henry Blofeld –
“I say, is that the Canadian team coming through? No, no – it’s Cameroon, and don’t they look splendid! So, the Olympic doves, a symbol of the peace and harmony that the Olympic ideal represents, circle above Stratford where only a year ago, riots.. (muffled sounds). Well, a plane passes overhead. Geoffrey? Athers?”
Geoffrey Boycott –
“Call this a parade? We had street-parties in Barnsley bigger than this to celebrate opening a new lift in t’local pit. London though eh? What do you expect?”
David Frith –
I first met Pierre de Coubertin at the Los Angeles Games of 1932, where I was a pup reporter for the Dunnydoor Daily News. He was charming of course, though nearly blind by this stage and already fretting over the next Olympics in Berlin. (I was not to meet Hitler for another two years, but his name sent a chill down my spine even then.) It would warm the old man’s heart to see so many nations proudly competing today – so many indeed, that his native France will be lucky to pick up any medals at all. I fancy the Sri Lankan for gold in the javelin – they’ve a fine record of producing…
Mark Nicholas –
“It is a truly magnificent sight, an ornament of the nation, a credit to mankind itself. Not my hair, this great cascade of humanity, this river of sporting talent flowing alongside the Thames, this cavalcade of the carnivalesque…“
Tony Greig –
“… To own this wonderful souvenir of the London Games Opening Ceremony, each uniquely numbered from one to one million, call 08….”
Michael Atherton –
“Is it really Charles? Well I never. Of course it’s a great event, but a little perspective is needed. Over a billion people watched the Eurovision Song Contest after all. CLR James would have found a word for it, something to capture this glorious insanity. Sport – it’s a funny old game, as someone once said.”
Simon Hughes –
Using Hawkeye, it is immediately apparent that even the most rigid of arms has a degree of kink in it and I applaud the IOC for relaxing the rules to allow for a 15 degree of kink in flag-bearing duties. The key to carrying the flag successfully is, of course, balance, and few flag-bearers will possess the balance of Usain Bolt, with whom I was fortunate to share a few beers last month in Jamaica…
Nasser Hussain –
“So Lord Coe – it’s all going a bit wrong isn’t it? No – let me finish. It is isn’t it? Wimbledon has a roof, Wembley and that one in Wales, but you haven’t. What have you got to say about that then? Eh? Well? Stratford is letting down the fine old county of Essex – that’s what I say.
Ravi Shastri –
“All India feel the pain of the Olympic Committee’s snub of Sachin Tendulkar. Not only is He not opening the Games, as surely is His right, but He is not even lighting the Olympic flame! Virat Kohli had it right in his interview after the greatest victory in all sport just a year ago – is that forgotten? INDIA! INDIA! INDIA!”
Richie Benaud –
“Morning ev’ryone. Super day in prospect here with England following on (after another 200 nations have filed past) and every chance of a result for this biggish crowd taking their seats in the sunshine…”
Daniel Norcross –
“Is this mic working? Oh I say, is that Boris Johnson over there? Well if you do insist on voting for these Tories, then that’s who you’re going to get. Have we got a jingle for him? What sports do you want in the Olympics – tweet us on @Testmatchsofa. garynaylor999 has already tweeted in saying that he fancies Nick Clegg for the high jump…”