All spectators, athletes, performers, and animals will be able to catch their last trains home from the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London next week.
Some scenes from the ceremonies, overseen by award-winning director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire), have been shortened and a bike stunt has been scrapped entirely to make sure it concludes early enough for attendees to catch the last trains out of the city that night.
Upon the announcement, speculation quickly arose that the emphasis on a timely ending is related to the security shortages that have dominated London headlines this week, but Olympics minister Hugh Robertson has denied that the announcement had "anything to do with the G4S security situation" adding, "It is all about making sure the ceremony ends between 12 and 12:30 am so that people can get back to Central London on time to catch the last trains home." LOGOC Director of Communications Jackie Brock-Doyle reminded members of the media yesterday that the plan had always been to end sometime between 12 and 12:30.
There have also been reports of an ongoing creative dispute between Boyle and the Olympic Broadcasting Services dating as far back as April, according to the Telegraph. As the big day approaches, tensions have flared up again with a debate over control of a specific camera that will provide overhead shots. According to the Telegraph, it has since been resolved with both sides now given access to the camera.
Alleged controversies aside, a spectacle is sure to take place inside Olympic Stadium for the ceremonies, which, according to the Daily Mail, will host 80,000 spectators, 16,000 athletes, 10,000 performers, 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens, three cows, two goats, some dogs, geese and a recreation of an idyllic English countryside. Expected world viewership for the event is estimated to be more than one billion people.
For a better idea of what the opening ceremonies might look like, check out the video below: