The Olympics opening ceremony in numbers

Prepare for a spectacular start to the London 2012 Games, with a collection of fascinating numerical facts about Danny Boyle's huge-scale event

The years of planning, months of preparation and efforts of thousands have all been leading up to tonight, when Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony kicks off at 9:00pm, marking the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.


The show, entitled Isles of Wonder after a line from Shakespeare, promises to be a rustic celebration of Britain involving animals, rivers, a village green and legions of human volunteers in a single spectacular display, which Boyle says “represents a traditional and idyllic view of the British countryside.”

And while specific details of the occasion have been largely kept under wraps thanks to Boyle’s #savethesurprise Twitter campaign, what we do have to go on suggests a ceremony of considerable scale and ambition.

So, as the world gets ready to train its eyes on the East End of our glittering capital city, let’s have a quick look at the opening ceremony… in numbers.

1... giant bell The ceremony will open with the ringing of the biggest harmonically tuned bell in the world, measuring two metres tall by three metres wide and weighing 23 tons

2… goats Along with the 70 sheep, 12 horses, ten chickens, ten ducks, nine geese, three sheepdogs and three cows that inhabit the show’s Olympic farmyard

6… host boroughs The sites of the various competition and training venues will each be paid tribute in the ceremony when 900 children aged 9-13 from schools in Barking & Dagenham, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest take part in the ceremony

25… tonnes The amount of weight the “flying system” built for the event can hold, which Locog claim is as much as five elephants. What exactly it’s for we don’t yet know, but we’re guessing something pretty spectacular…

204… national teams Representatives of all 204 nations taking part in the Games will parade behind their flags during the proceedings

10,000… volunteer performers But while there are 5000 fewer people taking part than in Beijing’s opening ceremony in 2008, in true pantomime style the 80,000 spectators in the Olympic Stadium are all set to get involved in proceedings alongside the main cast

12,956… props Suggesting that the Olympic Stadium’s got one heck of a prop room, the ceremony will feature just shy of 13,000 bits of kits wielded by the cast

15,000… square metres The opening ceremony will occupy a fair amount of space – as much as 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools, in fact

1,000,000…watts The power of the Olympic sound system, which will also feature more than 500 speakers and 50 tonnes of sound gear. Even Motörhead would be impressed

24,000,000… pounds sterling The approximate total cost of the opening ceremony, with tickets for the event priced up to £2,012


1,000,000,000… viewers Approximately a seventh of the world’s total population is expected to tune in and see the ceremony take place. Though sadly for the BBC’s PR department, they won’t all be watching on BBC1