No stunt bike in opening ceremony but sheep are safe
LONDON (Reuters) - A short stunt bike segment has been cut from next week's Olympic opening ceremony but the cows, ducks and sheep will still have their moment in the limelight.
Organisers dismissed British media reports on Wednesday that the ceremony, orchestrated by Oscar-winning film maker Danny Boyle and due to be watched by a global television audience of a billion people, had been trimmed because of fears over security and transport snarls.
Jackie Brock-Doyle, director of communications for Games organisers LOCOG, told reporters that rehearsals had been running over the projected three to three-and-a-half-hour slot and the show needed tightening.
"This is like any other piece of film that you would make," she said. "Things end up on the cutting room floor. Also, a huge amount of the rehearsals have been done in the pouring rain so it is a matter of tightening. It's not cutting big chunks.
"Some of the stuff around this morning (in the media) is making people think the show is going to be vastly different and shorter. It won't."
The ceremony, which is due to open with the ringing of the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world, is costing some 27 million pounds ($42.04 million) to make and has been titled "Isles of Wonder'.
It will include 10,000 adult volunteer performers while Olympic athletes will walk around a meadow made up of mini fields separated by hedges and a river.
The animal cast list includes 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, nine geese, a flock of 70 sheep and three sheep dogs.
Brock-Doyle said the scene that had been cut involved "stunt biking. Jumps. Exciting stunt bike stuff" and would have lasted three to four minutes. There was no threat to the animals.
She said Transport for London were keeping the trains running until 0230 local time (9.30 a.m. EDT), and security was not the issue as people would go through bag checks only on the way in.
The Olympic stadium, where Queen Elizabeth will open the Games on July 27 in the presence of more than 100 world leaders and where the cauldron will be lit after the final leg of a torch relay around Britain, seats 80,000.
The ceremony starts at 2100 local and is scheduled to end between midnight and 0030.
Athletes from the 204 competing nations due to parade inside the stadium have been assured they will not be kept hanging around into the early hours before they can return to their neighbouring Village.
How many of those athletes will show up for the ceremony was more of a concern -- an ironic contrast to the storm this week over the failure by contractor G4S to mobilise a sufficient number of security personnel.
"The bit that no-one ever knows is really how long the athletes' parade will be because no-one actually knows until the day how many athletes are going to come out," said Brock-Doyle. "So we are using all the tricks of the trade to get people to move fast.
"It will depend on the weather. Some athletes won't turn up if it's pouring with rain."
(Editing by Clare Fallon)
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