The Games opened on 29 July, a brilliantly sunny day. Army bands began playing at 2 pm for the 85,000 spectators in Wembley Stadium. The international and national organisers arrived at 2.35 pm and George VI and Queen Elizabeth, with Queen Mary and other members of the Royal Family, at 2.45 pm. Fifteen minutes later the competitors entered the stadium in a procession that took 50 minutes. The last team was that of the United Kingdom. When it had passed the saluting base, Lord Burghley began his welcome: Your Majesty: The hour has struck. A visionary dream has today become a glorious reality. At the end of the worldwide struggle in 1945, many institutions and associations were found to have withered and only the strongest had survived. How, many wondered, had the great Olympic Movement prospered? After welcoming the athletes to two weeks of "keen but friendly rivalry", he said London represented a "warm flame of hope for a better understanding in the world which has burned so low." At 4 pm, the time shown on Big Ben on the London Games symbol, the King declared the Games open, 2,500 pigeons were set free and the Olympic Flag raised to its 35 ft (11 m) flagpole at the end of the stadium. The Royal Horse Artillery sounded a 21-gun salute and the last runner in the Torch Relay ran a lap of the track Ц created with cinders from the domestic coal fires of Leicester Ц and climbed the steps to the Olympic cauldron. After saluting the crowd, he turned and lit the flame. After more speeches, Donald Finlay of the British team (given his RAF rank of Wing Commander) took the Olympic Oath on behalf of a
l competitors. The National Anthem was sung and the massed athletes turned and marched out of the stadium, led by Greece, tailed by Britain. The 580-page official report concluded: Thus were launched the Olympic Games of London, under the most happy auspices. The smooth-running Ceremony, which profoundly moved not only all who saw it but also the millions who were listening-in on the radio throughout the world, and the glorious weather in which it took place, combined to give birth to a spirit which was to permeate the whole of the following two weeks of thrilling and intensive sport. The opening ceremony, and over 60 hours of other coverage during the Games, was broadcast live on BBC television. The BBC had paid a sum of ?1000 for the broadcasting rights. The original Wembley Stadium, officially known as the Empire Stadium, was a football stadium in Wembley, a suburb of north-west London, standing on the site now occupied by the new Wembley Stadium that opened in 2007. Debris from the Old Wembley Stadium was used to make the award-winning Northala Fields in Northolt, Ealing. It was famous for hosting the annual FA Cup finals, five European Cup finals, the 1948 Summer Olympics, the 1966 World Cup Final, the final of Euro 96 and the 1985 Live Aid concert. Of Wembley Stadium, Pele said, "Wembley is the cathedral of football. It is the capital of football and it is the heart of football" in recognition of its status as the world's best-known football stadium. The twin towers were once an icon for England and Wembley before their demolition in 2003 which upset many members of the public.