LONDON (AP) - The opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games has begun.
The show is kicking off with a film about the River Thames, followed by a countdown and the release of four balloons carrying the five Olympic rings to the edge of space.
The ringing of a giant bell made especially for the games ushers in what promises to be a quirky three-hour journey through British culture and history. Thousands of athletes were set to parade before 60,000 spectators, including Queen Elizabeth II and an A-list of global celebrities. Cyclist Bradley Wiggins, the winner of the recent Tour de France, had the honor of ringing the bell.
After Friday's extravaganza, it'll be time to officially "Let the games begin."
Greek team starts parade of athletes
Greece's Olympic team has entered the stadium at the head of a parade of athletes from the 204 nations participating in the 2012 London Games.
The Greeks are being led by flagbearer Alexandros Nikolaidis, a two-time taekwondo silver medalist. The beleaguered country's athletes always come out first in honor of Greece's place as the birthplace of the Olympic Games. After that, countries parade in alphabetical order, with host Britain last.
Roughly 10,500 athletes are participating, although some have skipped the three-hour ceremony in order to be well-rested for competition.
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