Mega Surprises On Tap for Opening Ceremony: Sir Paul, Mary Poppins & Lord Voldemort?

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The London Games officially kick-off on Friday but the first matches were contested today. The US women's soccer team played France in Hampden Park this morning, and after a bumpy start in which France scored two goals in two minutes, they came back to finish 4-2. The men's tournament will start tomorrow.

With the first rounds of competition underway, all eyes now turn to the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony on July 27th. And from most accounts, it's going to be epic. Traditionally opening night is a celebration showcasing the best of the Host Nation. It also features a parade of all competing nations and the entrance of the Olympic Flame, which ignites the Cauldron to signal the official start of the Games.

AP London correspondent Jill Lawless, who was at the dress rehearsal on Monday night tweeted that the ceremony was “splendidly British and magnificently bonkers.”

We've heard rumours that Sir Paul McCartney will close the show by singing “Hey Jude” as well as speculation that Sir Elton John will perform. David Beckham has confirmed he  has a role in the Olympics opening ceremony but refused to give away any details about Friday's curtain raiser. Muhammad Ali could also play a role after the boxing great appeared with Beckham at a conference in London yesterday.

Sir Paul McCartney Credit Image: © National News/ZUMAPRESS.com

While nothing is confirmed, reports abound about the surprises the organizing committee has in store for worldwide audiences on Friday night. Beijing's impressive $100 million-plus opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics will be hard to top, but London is going to try. This week's $42 million opening ceremony, conceived and directed by filmmaker Danny Boyle, has been under tight wraps for months but as the big moment nears, details are slipping out. The Slumdog Millionaire director warned all 60,000 guests at the technical rehearsal Monday to “Save the Surprise,” to the point where #savethesurprise was trending on Twitter.

Spoiler Alert

We won't reveal ALL the details here but multiple news outlets including Gawker and Murdoch's Times of London (subscription only) are reporting that everyone's favorite nanny, Mary Poppins, will challenge the notorious Harry Potter villain, Lord Voldemort.  And it's bound to be a battle for the ages.

Olympics organizers planning the main event want to highlight the influence of British literary characters on culture around the world, according to reports.  How will this epic stand-off play out?  It's a complicated feat of coordination and effort on the actors' parts.

The Olympic Stadium will apparently be transformed into a rural English landscape and an elaborate sequence is said to climax when a 40-foot Voldemort rises from the center to scare away representations of Alice from "Alice in Wonderland," Captain Hook and Cruella De Vil. According to the Times report:

About 30 actors each depicting Mary Poppins, the magical English nanny played by Julie Andrews in the 1964 Disney film, will descend from the roof of the stadium on wires and "float" to the ground with their opened umbrellas.

So, the countdown is on. Sir Paul, Mary Poppins, Lord Voldemort, Becks and more. Will happiness reign or will dark forces rule? Will you be watching?

@jschonb
dare to dream
Also online at prettytough.com and womentalksports.com

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