Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


VIPs flock to Games opening

24 July 2012, 08:58

 London - Thousands of VIPs including some 120 national leaders will jet into London for Friday's Olympic opening ceremony, with guests ranging from Angelina Jolie and Michelle Obama to the king of Swaziland.

The expected record number of heads of state and government will watch the Olympic cauldron lit by a mystery personality in a 27 million ($42 million, 35 million euros) extravaganza of music, dancing and pyrotechnics, amid a flurry of A-list parties in the British capital.

Germany's Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda are among the leaders set to attend what will be a suitably British and eccentric show, featuring live sheep and dancing surgeons from the National Health Service.

Britain's 86-year-old monarch Queen Elizabeth II will officially open the Games at the ceremony, whose exact contents are a secret - but which is also said to include a scene in which magical fictional nanny Mary Poppins vanquishes Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort.

First Lady Michelle Obama will head the US delegation, and while there are no plans for her husband President Barack Obama to attend, his electoral rival Mitt Romney will be in the crowd wooing foreign leaders ahead of November's election.

Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, credited with breathing new life into the country's monarchy, will appear along with a flock of European royals including Prince Albert of Monaco.

Russia's delegation will be led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, while strongman President Vladimir Putin has indicated he may fly in later purely to watch the judo, in which he is himself a black belt.

British football legend David Beckham is expected to appear at the ceremony despite not being selected for Team GB - his non-selection drew public anger.

The contingent of heads of state and government, which the Foreign Office says will peak at about 120 for the ceremony, outstrips about 80 who attended the Beijing ceremony in 2008 and about half that number in Athens four years earlier.

They will also be invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace beforehand.

But even glitzier will be the series of celebrity parties taking place around the fringes of the Games, above all a charity gala at the Victoria and Albert Museum Wednesday in aid of Sports for Peace, honouring boxing great Muhammad Ali.

Hollywood mega-couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are helping host the soiree, leading it to be dubbed "Brangelina's party" by British newspapers agog with the influx of stars.

"Royalty meets Hollywood as star-studded Games party season starts," gushed the London Evening Standard on Monday.

According to the Times newspaper, that party will also feature film actress Catherine Zeta Jones, racing driver Lewis Hamilton and Ukrainian boxing duo the Klitschko brothers. But the food was to be down-to-earth, including the British classic fish and chips.

The watch brand Omega will host a series of "secret" parties during the Games, with invitees including Australian actress Nicole Kidman, a face of the brand, and US swimming multiple gold medal-winner Michael Phelps.

Several super-yachts, favoured by tycoons, are meanwhile moored off the Canary Wharf business district.

There will, however, be notable absences as the Games begin - not least leaders such as Syria's Bashar al-Assad, who along with Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus is subject to a European travel ban.

Other Syrians, including Olympic committee chief General Mowaffak Joumaa, are staying away after London said it would deny entry to people shown to be linked to rights abuses.

But Syria's 10-strong Games team will still compete despite the raging civil war there.

A visit from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks in doubt, after he said he believed Britain had a "problem" with his presence. His country is involved in a high-stakes nuclear standoff with the West.

But with the International Olympic Committee maintaining a non-political stance, there will be few exclusions.

Swazi King Mswati III is set to attend despite protests against his presence at May celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II's jubilee by compatriots who say he leads a lavish lifestyle at the expense of his impoverished subjects.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...