London opening ceremony will be over by midnight

London: The opening ceremony at next year`s London Games will be over by midnight to encourage athletes not to skip the traditional march of nations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday.

At the end of a three-day inspection visit, the head of the IOC`s coordination commission said athletes would also be able to leave before the end of the July 27 ceremony to prepare for their various events.

"We insisted the ceremony should not finish after midnight so the athletes can get to the Olympic village quickly," Denis Oswald told reporters.

"They can even leave the opening ceremony before the end if they wish to do so."

Competitors often elect to miss the ceremony, especially if they are in action early in the Olympics, and some were critical of the length of the traditional opening in Beijing that was held in high humidity and heat.

London`s ceremony is being directed by filmmaker Danny Boyle and is expected to start by 9pm. However, the British athletics team are unlikely to be represented because they will still be preparing at a pre-Games camp.

Oswald, whose team will make one more visit next year, said London`s preparations for the Games were on track.

"We have once again been impressed by the overall level of planning and by the results of the first group of test events that were held this summer," he said.

Bureau Report

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