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VIDEO/ London 2012: The Olympics are starting

Watch the Video Introduction to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, the first event of which begins today, though the Opening Ceremony will take place on Friday.

Olympic Countdown Clock in Trafalgar Square   (Amanda Slater) Olympic Countdown Clock in Trafalgar Square (Amanda Slater)

Two days are left on the countdown clock to the Olympic Games of 2012 in London, the city that will be the first to host three Games in the modern era. They hosted the Olympics in 1908 and 1948. This time, they won the bid in 2005 against Madrid, New York, Paris and Moscow. Over 10,000 athletes will participate.

Though the Opening Ceremony does not take place until Friday, the first event of the Olympics begins today with the group stages of Women’s Soccer. The Opening Ceremony will take place in the new Olympic Stadium, part of a 500 acre Olympic park. Building all the new venues has cost London over 5 billion pounds. There is much talk about the Opening Ceremony after the striking and awe-inducing one in Beijing in 2008. It seems that London will go for a more muted tone, but look to display their charm as a nation.

This Summer’s Games promise to be as exciting as ever. Some noteworthy stories include that of returning medalist Michael Phelps from the United States, who after breaking the medals record at one Olympics in 2008, could become the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, called Blade Runner, will be the first amputee to compete in the Olympics. The fastest man in the world, Jamaican Usain Bolt is trying for an unprecedented repeat of his Beijing wins. Beach volleyball duo Misty May and Kerri Walsh are also looking for a repeat, or threepeat, as they attempt to win gold for the third time in a row.

Then, could it be a repeat of the recent Wimbledon tennis tournament? Tennis stars, including Roger Federer and Serena Williams, will be back on the same stage to fight it out for the gold. The US Women’s soccer team will look to avenge their loss in the World Cup Finals last summer, as the Spanish men’s team looks to add one more victory to their impressive repertoire. In gymnastics, the US looks strong again with new faces, those of Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber.

A big question is whether or not China will beat the United States in overall medal count. After beating them for the first time in the gold medal count in 2008 and losing by only ten medals overall, this could be the year that the United States is finally beaten, after being on top since 1992. Who will become a hero and who will go home empty handed will be decided July 27-August 12.