LONDON (AP) — There will be monarchs, presidents, prime ministers — and David Beckham. Today’s opening ceremony for the London Olympics is an A-list affair.
Among the 60,000 spectators at Olympic Stadium will be Queen Elizabeth II — who as British head of state will officially open the games — along with royals including Prince William and his wife Kate, and Prince Harry.
The British government says more than 80 heads of state and government will be in the audience, including royalty from Brunei, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.
The U.S. will be represented by first lady Michelle Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will also attend.
Beckham, who helped bring the games to London, will be there — and the show will end with a performance by Paul McCartney.
Michelle Obama formally opened her stint as leader of the U.S. Olympics delegation today, attending a breakfast with Olympians and saying she was “just in awe” of their company.
The U.S. first lady mingled with the U.S. athletes afterward, posing for photos, shaking hands and sharing hugs with dozens who had signed up to attend.
“Try to have fun. Try to breathe a little bit,” Mrs. Obama said. “But also win, right?”
The first lady had a busy itinerary today, including promoting healthy living with more than 1,000 children, a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and then the opening ceremony at Olympic Stadium.
She told the U.S. athletes that some of her fondest memories in sports stemmed from watching the Olympics on television. She also shared the story of her father, who was athletic but contracted multiple sclerosis “in the prime of his life.”
“He retained his love of sports, truly,” Mrs. Obama told the athletes. “And the Olympics was a special time for him to watch amazing athletes of all abilities compete on the world stage.
“Every few years, these games bring pride, excitement and wonder to millions of people around the world. And that must mean so much to all of you,” she added.
Later, the first lady met with hundreds of children on the lavish grounds of Winfield House, the official residence of the U.S. ambassador in London.
As the University of Florida Gator marching band paraded and twirled batons, children hurried between sports areas and mingled with athletes.
Soccer hero David Beckham appeared alongside the first lady, Olympic gold-medal sprinter Carl Lewis signed autographs, and ex-NBA star Dikembe Mutombo offered the kids — most of them from U.S. military families — tips on basketball.
A former Manchester United goalkeeper and members of the U.S. field hockey and tennis squads also ran training sessions for the children, aged nine to 14.
Student Ethen Duval, originally from Oklahoma, sharpened his skills at the soccer camp.
“I’m looking forward to watching the Olympic soccer,” said the 10-year-old, who lives at Lakenheath U.S. Air Force Base in Britain. “I can’t wait to watch things with my Dad and see the look on his face when something exciting happens and he says ‘Wow!’”
The 46-year-old Mutombo towered above his young pupils, who were eager for the Olympics to begin.
“They are mostly excited about the basketball,” he joked.
The breakfast took place at the University of East London, where the U.S. Olympic Committee has established a full training facility that will host hundreds of athletes during the games.
Among the Olympians attending were two-time fencing gold medalist Mariel Zagunis, chosen by U.S. athletes to carry the nation’s flag into the opening ceremony, along with the U.S. women’s basketball team and members of the track and field squad.
Mrs. Obama appeared with several past U.S. Olympic and Paralympic standouts, including Brandi Chastain, Gabriel Diaz de Leon, Grant Hill, Summer Sanders and Dominique Dawes.