London Summer Olympics Get Underway

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Aaron Schachter: I am Aaron Schachter. This is The World, and this is the day. So, enough about the traffic and the weather and the cost; let the Games begin! It's the start of the 30th Summer Olympiad. The opening ceremonies are underway at Olympic Park in London. The World's Alex Gallafent is in the British capital. Alex, you've been out and about today — what's up?

Alex Gallafent: Aaron it's a really good time to be in the city. One of the fun things about the Olympics is that they will start wearing clothes that tell you where they're from. There are flags on their shirts, flags in their hats. So, you look around the city and you see evidence that the whole world is here. I met an Olympic fan from Germany on her 6th Olympics. I chatted with a group of journalists from Cuba and countless London volunteers giddy with anticipation, and today it's all about anticipation.

Schachter: Right; and you were outside the Olympic Park in East London today talking to some of the thousands upon thousands of visitors in town for the biggest sporting event in the world.

Gallafent: The Cleveland family from Eagle, Idaho is bringing it. They're all suited up in American flags. Here's Scott Cleveland.

Scott Cleveland: We're sort of into. We brought our moms. We had our moms and some friends of ours. This is my mom.

Mom: Hi.

Gallafent: You're from Idaho as well?

Cleveland: No, New Mexico.

Mom: No, I'm from Albuquerque, New Mexico area, but my grandfather was born in London in 1891. This is my first trip ever to the British Isles; I am excited.

Gallafent: The Clevelands are at the opening ceremony tonight. After that, they've got tickets for a smorgasbord of basketball, volleyball, table tennis and more.

Cleveland: The men's 100 meter final — Usain Bolt — that should be exciting.

Gallafent: Juan Miguel from Spain has a more limited agenda.

Juan Miguel: We got tickets for volleyball in Central London for tomorrow night, not for today. For today, we are just having a look at the atmosphere and so on.

Gallafent: He and his friends are watching the opening ceremony on TV, not in person.

Miguel: No, no way. It's too expensive.

Gallafent: I met a group of kids on their way into the Olympic Park too. They are from a grade school in the North of England. Tonight they are taking part in the ceremony as a guard of honor.

Student: Where you cheer on the athletes.

Gallafent: In their case, athletes from Kyrgyzstan. And what do these English kids know about Kyrgyzstan?

Student: That it's a country with only 14 athletes.

Gallafent: Wrestlers and Judokas mostly. Don't mess with Kyrgyzstan. Outside the Olympic Park, a group of London transport workers has been fighting for another cause.

Transport Worker: 12 billion pounds they spent on the Olympic Games and they can't afford to provide young people with jobs, with educations, with homes.

Gallafent: But, all in all, the city seems pretty happy today to be hosting these Olympic Games. One Londoner, a Filipino named Jimmy Grenada, is excited to see his homeland's best athletes in action.

Jimmy Grenada: One boxing, swimming as well, fencing and billiards.

Gallafent: Billiards…at the Olympics?

Grenada: Yeah. I'm not really sure about that one.

Schachter: I actually won't be seeing any billiards, at least not at the Olympics. What are the real Olympic sports going on this weekend?

Gallafent: Well, there's a pretty tasty tennis match between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Federer, you remember, won in Wimbledon recently in London and the tennis at the Olympics is taking place at the same place. He doesn't have an Olympic gold medal; he's got a lot of grand slams but he wants that one. We've got the start of the swimming too. That takes place in London's beautiful, new aquatic center. Look out for both men and women's 400 meter individual medleys in the swimming. There's heats in the rowing; there's men and women's soccer — the U.S. women are playing tomorrow and, you know, loads and loads more.

Schachter: And, of course Alex, the main event for today — the Opening Ceremony. Are you watching that?

Gallafent: I am. It's a really big challenge for the organizers. How do you define a nation and a city in a show that only lasts 3 hours? This is a huge opportunity to tell the world what Britain and being British means. But, Britain is a very complicated place so it's no easy thing.

Schachter: The World's very British Alex Gallafent in London. Thanks Alex.

Gallafent: Thank you Aaron.