London greeted the world in a celebration of Old England that was stunning, imaginative, whimsical and dramatic -- and cheeky, even featuring a stand-in for Queen Elizabeth II parachuting with James Bond into Olympic Stadium. Moments later, the 86-year-old monarch herself stood solemnly while a children's choir serenaded her with "God Save the Queen," and members of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force raised the Union Jack.
For more than a year, many Londoners have complained about their inability to obtain Olympic tickets, especially for marquee events like swimming and gymnastics. Then on Saturday, the first full day of competition here revealed... unsightly swaths of empty seats at marquee events like swimming and gymnastics.
As a result, patches of empty seats were visible Saturday morning at North Greenwich Arena, where men's gymnastics qualifying was under way. The same was true at the Aquatics Center, where superstar Michael Phelps swam in preliminary heats. At Wimbledon, Serena Williams played at a mostly crowded Centre Court stadium that was nonetheless blotched with sections of a couple of hundred empty seats each.
Fans aren't the only ones who are frustrated. On Saturday afternoon, Indian tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi tweeted: "Been trying for 6 hours now to buy my wife a ticket to watch me play tomorrow. Still no luck, and the grounds here feel empty. ABSURD!!!" Bhupathi has a doubles match Sunday afternoon.