The Olympic flame will make a dramatic arrival in London to tour the capital before it plays a starring role in the opening ceremony in one week’s time.
A Royal Marine commando will abseil from a helicopter with the torch, which will spend the night safely housed in the Tower of London, where Queen Elizabeth II keeps her ceremonial jewels.
The 12,800-kilometre relay culminates in the capital after snaking around Britain and visiting the Republic of Ireland. Its arrival will add to the anticipation building ahead of the Games.
Snatched press photographs show that preparations for the opening ceremony next Friday are at an advanced stage, with the show orchestrated by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle featuring an idyllic English village.
Much of the £27 million ceremony remains under wraps.As the preparations for the Games intensify, the competitors are limbering up.
Murray moving past the tears
Meanwhile, Andy Murray insists the prospect of returning to Wimbledon to compete for an Olympic medal has eased his heartache in the aftermath of his emotional final defeat against Roger Federer.
World number four Murray will be back in action at Wimbledon to represent Britain in the Olympic tennis event just three weeks after making a tearful exit from the All England Club.
The 25-year-old Scot wept openly on Centre Court during a television interview just moments after Federer ended his hopes of becoming the first Briton to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
In the circumstances, Murray, who has lost all four of his Grand Slam final appearances, could have been forgiven for wanting to be anywhere but Wimbledon for the foreseeable future.
But he is relishing the chance to go for gold in the Olympic event and cannot wait to get back in action on the lush lawns of southwest London.
“I think it was good for me the Olympics came so soon after Wimbledon, that gave me an extra push and extra motivation to get back on court and not think too much about the final,” said Murray.
“I feel fine just now. I’ve been practising now for a week. If the Olympics weren’t here I would have taken two or three weeks off but I just took four or five days off and got back on the court. I would expect that by now I’m experienced enough and had enough tough losses to be able to deal with the final.”
Murray’s form has often nose-dived after Grand Slam final defeats and he has made a conscious effort to avoid a repeat this time.
“I thought a little bit about the match and then was thinking what it will be like playing at the Olympics because it’s changed so quickly after the tournament. They had all the London 2012 backdrops at the back of the court and I guess that maybe got my mind looking forward to this event.”
Crackdown on unofficial souvenirs
The London Olympics pop up on teapots, bunting and a one-eyed mascot — but strict branding laws are in place to ensure that official products are the only ones in the race. Union Jack umbrellas bearing the 2012 logo are sure to be a hit if the British weather does not brighten up and would contribute to the £1 billion of merchandise which Olympics organisers hope to sell.
But souvenir seekers looking for something more unusual may have to dig a little deeper. Unauthorised t-shirts showing the Beatles carrying the Olympic rings as they cross a London street in the iconic picture from their Abbey Road album cover have been spotted at one street market in the British capital.
However, it is rare to find unofficial goods which have slipped through the net. The restrictions on Olympics branding are watertight and have given rise to several widely reported cases where small businesses have fallen foul of the law.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2012.