Live updates from the Opening Ceremony

Joey Gulino
Fourth-Place Medal

7:50 p.m. ET: While it didn't top Beijing's incredible human spectacle (and what could?), Danny Boyle and his team have put together an excellent spectacle of their own to kick off the 2012 Summer Olympics. Off we go!

7:49 p.m. ET: McCartney's concert brings to a close the Opening Ceremony, which is technically the beginning of the London Games although men's and women's soccer has already started.

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7:45 p.m. ET: NBC sure is missing a great show right now.

7:41 p.m. ET: Sir Paul McCartney now has the attention of the ceremony, playing the piano and singing "Hey Jude" with a background band. If there's a better sing-along song for everyone at the moment, it's escaping us.

7:40 p.m. ET: "Eclipse" constitutes our obligatory Pink Floyd inclusion. Far more impressive is the army of fireworks that shoots up into the sky around the stadium.

[ Photos: Live shots from the London Games Opening Ceremony ]

7:38 p.m. ET: All the separate sticks of flame raise together as one, with the full Olympic torch standing a couple stories above the crowd on the stadium ground. Apparently, a group of seven British athletes all came in and "lit the torch" instead of one person. Huh?

7:36 p.m. ET: A dim blue hue cakes the Olympic Stadium at the moment, and the Olympic cauldron is lit in the center.

7:32 p.m. ET: The Olympic torch was lit at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece, on May 10. It's since traveled some 1,280 miles in the hands of some 8,000 runners around the United Kingdom. And now it's finally made it into the Olympic Stadium. Speechless at the moment.

7:25 p.m. ET: The speed boat carrying the torch touches land. The lighting of the torch is nigh. Burn it like Beckham?

7:23 p.m. ET: Muhammad Ali makes an always-welcome appearance as the Olympic flag makes its way to the center of the stadium, with the Olympic anthem playing over it all.

7:19 p.m. ET: And following the Queen's words, a circular spring of fireworks erupts around the top of the stadium, followed by the presentation of the Olympic flag.

7:15 p.m. ET: Rogge just mentioned that every nation will have female athletes competing for the first time, to thunderous applause. No snarky comment about that. An appropriately memorable achievement.

7:09 p.m. ET: Currently speaking to the crowd: English distance-running legend Sebastian Coe and, shortly, IOC President Jacques Rogge. If you think the comments will include how proud they are and how great the Olympics are and blah blah blah, you'd be right.

7:05 p.m. ET: English indie rock band Arctic Monkeys has taken the stage, performing their own music and also The Beatles.

7:00 p.m. ET: As the broadcasters pointed out, you can see why Danny Boyle wanted to start the Opening Ceremony later. The night sky is fueling the sumptuous spectacle of this event.

6:57 p.m. ET: Queen Elizabeth II is caught by the cameras picking her nails and not really paying attention! The ensuing articles/blog posts/videos about that moment are about to win the internet.

6:55 p.m. ET: Great Britain finishes the national introductions with David Bowie's "Heroes" blasting around the Olympic Stadium. Stirring moment.

6:52 p.m. ET: Vanuatu's procession is next. If you say you'd heard of Vanuatu before it hosted "Survivor," you're lying.

6:50 p.m. ET: Wait, there's Kobe with the American contingent. Hide, Pau!

6:47 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Lakers star and Spanish basketball forward Pau Gasol carries the flag for the Spanish contingent. He's smiling and clearly enjoying the experience. That's what life's like when Kobe Bryant's not yelling at you.

[ Related: What to watch for over the Olympic weekend ]

6:46 p.m. ET: Caster Semenya, the controversial 800-meter runner, bears the South African flag. We're just gonna leave that one alone.

6:41 p.m. ET: Saudi Arabia is now walking, and along with Qatar and Brunei, it's one of the three nations allowing women to compete for the first time. Good show!

6:40 p.m. ET: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, competing in the London Games and playing the Sunset Strip next month.

6:38 p.m. ET: For the first time in history, Qatar is allowing women to compete in the Olympics. Next challenge? Managing the triple-digit temperature terror forthcoming at the 2022 World Cup.

6:35 p.m. ET: That disappointed whimper you just heard was every male watching the Paraguayan procession who just realized that gorgeous javelin thrower Leryn Franco wasn't carrying the flag.

6:32 p.m. ET: Another minute, another island nation in Oceania that you've never heard of. This time it's Palau, whose flag-bearer is sprinter Rodman Teltull.

6:30 p.m. ET: There's the Netherlands. Hopefully the Olympians will give a better account of themselves than the Oranje did during Euro 2012.

6:28 p.m. ET: Nauru is out now. It's another obscure island nation in the Pacific Ocean. How many of those are there?

6:24 p.m. ET: The Marshall Islands, located in the northern Pacific Ocean, enter the obscure nation derby.

6:22 p.m. ET: Marie Muller is carrying the Luxembourg flag. She's a judo practitioner who's easy on the eyes. If looks could kill ...

6:18 p.m. ET: Kiribati, an Oceanic island nation, is up next. Kiribati is the No. 1 contender for Comoros' championship belt as the most obscure nation among casual viewers.

6:16 p.m. ET: And there's Jamaica and Usain Bolt, whom the broadcast team called the most popular athlete in the world. I think Lionel Messi might have something to say about that.

6:14 p.m. ET: Irish boxer Katie Taylor, one of the favorites in London, carries her flag. Shortly after, the Israeli athletes come out, with a quick mention of the 1972 Munich massacre from the broadcasters.

6:12 p.m. ET: Iceland's Ásdís Hjálmsdóttir is carrying her flag. Her name is hard to spell, and it's also hard to beat her in the javelin, the event in which she finished 13th at last year's World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. Shortly after, the four athletes competing without national affiliation (or "independents") come out.

6:08 p.m. ET: The Haitian flag is now out. Great to see the nation united after the devastating earthquake in January of 2010.

6:02 p.m. ET: The Bee Gees' iconic disco song "Stayin' Alive" starts playing as Fiji comes out. In other words, it's the Bee Gees for Fiji. Indeed.

5:55 p.m. ET: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, aka North Korea, is up next. They're definitely carrying the North Korean flag. Phew.

5:51 p.m. ET: The nation of Comoros, a sovereign island in the Indian Ocean, is now out. Major props if you've heard of that country.

[ Related: Michelle Obama welcomes Team USA ]

5:49 p.m. ET: Dallas Mavericks forward Yi Jianlian carries the flag of the People's Republic of China. The 7-footer is definitely hard to miss.

5:46 p.m. ET: The Cameroonian delegation walks into the stadium. If the women's soccer team's opening performance is any indication, they should walk right back out.

5:43 p.m. ET: The walking path around the stadium, by the way, is lined with white-clad drummers.

5:41 p.m. ET: Bhutan, the last nation the receive television broadcasting in 1999, is now out.

5:38 p.m. ET: Bahrain's first female flag-bearer, shooter Azza Al Qasmi, is now out. Bangladesh, the largest nation to never medal at the Summer Olympics, follows soon after. The country is sending four people to London.

5:33 p.m. ET: WNBA star Lauren Jackson carries the Australian flag.

5:31 p.m. ET: Argentina's flag is out, with"Lucha" Aymar carrying it. The 35-year-old has been part of a silver medal and two bronze medals in field hockey, but she's after gold and gold only this summer since it'll likely be her last chance.

5:27 p.m. ET: The athletes are now coming out, with the Greek flag out first. Two-hundred and four nations represented over 302 events. The Greeks are first because Athens was the sight of the first modern games in 1896.

5:25 p.m. ET: Emeli Sandé, a Scottish R&B artist, is singing a hymn called "Abide With Me." The mood is appropriately low-key.

5:22 p.m. ET: The stage is now lit in yellow as dancers honor the victims of the terrorist bombing of the London Subway on July 7, 2005, which was the day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games.

5:20 p.m. ET: A moment of silence is being observed for "friends and family of the Olympic Stadium" who couldn't be at the ceremony.

5:18 p.m. ET: One of the mysteries of the Opening Ceremony is solved! The torch is being carried on a speed boat -- that's also carrying David Beckham, looking dapper in a tux -- on the Thames.

5:15 p.m. ET: The musical montage is over, but a rapid-fire clip of the 1948 Olympics -- the last time they were in London -- is being shown, followed by a montage of the various runners who've carried the 2012 Olympic torch over the past few months.

5:14 p.m. ET: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, referred to as "the inventor of the worldwide web," is highlighted as Boyle said he'd be. In skywriting, "this is for everyone" is illuminated.

5:12 p.m. ET: MC Dizzee Rascal makes a live appearance.

5:10 p.m. ET: Where is The Clash? Oasis? Radiohead?

5:09 p.m. ET: The last few musical selections include David Bowie, the Eurythmics, Blur and Prodigy, with clips from Danny Boyle's films "Trainspotting" and "Slumdog Millionaire" thrown in for good measure.

5:06 p.m. ET: And the Sex Pistols are now the focus! They're not on stage, of course, but "Pretty Vacant" is playing with Johnny Rotten video projected.

5:05 p.m. ET: The giant artificial house on the stage is now lit up with Queen highlights as the iconic song "Bohemian Rhapsody" plays. Rock!

5:02 p.m. ET: The soundtrack is cycling through various British pop songs, including The Who, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, as dancers move to the rhythm on the center stage.

4:57 p.m. ET: Next up on the docket is a sequence that represents the digital age, with computer messaging, videos, and what the announcers refer to as the "soundtrack that spans four decades" of England.

Update: Thanks to a well-timed knockdown, Atkinson wins the race! ... And then wakes up from his dream, only to find his keyboard is busted. Cheeky!

Update: The famous beach run scene from "Chariots of Fire" is now being played, and a digitally added Atkinson is muscling his way to the front of the group. He hops into a car, and then is racing toward the finish line!

Update: And now Mr. Bean himself, Rowan Atkinson, is playing the keyboard while waving a smart phone and sneezing, and generally looking humorously disinterested. Now he's playing the keyboard with his umbrella ... and blowing his nose ...

Update: The London Symphony Orchestra has been introduced, playing (you guessed it!) Vangelis' famous theme from the film "Chariots of Fire." It's only appropriate.

Update: The lovely Ms. Poppins rescued the little girl from harm. All the extras are dancing to an folk song-ish melody.

Update: Mary Poppins is coming in to save the day! Stay tuned ...

Update: J.K. Rowling is now reading to the crowd, and a nightmare seems to be unfolding. A little girl is stuck on her bed as it's being raised, and what appears to be a giant puppet of Lord Voldemort is behind her. Surreal stuff.

Update: Now the skywriting is in the form of a crescent moon, with soft lullaby music playing.

Update: A group of children and nurses are dancing to swing music, with the stage faded to black to focus just on them. They help form skywriting that honors several organizations.

Update: The famous "second star" line from "Peter Pan" segues into the theme from the famous horror film "The Exorcist" in a tribute to the national health system. Like we said, peculiar but very engaging.

Update: A children's choir is performing an adorable rendition of the British national anthem, "God Save the Queen."

Update: Soldiers are marching the U.K. flag to a post, where it is now being raised above the proceedings.

Update: The real Queen, who was likely already on the ground, takes her place amid the Royal box seats as she receives applause, including IOC president Jacques Rogge.

Update: ... and the current James Bond sits by as the Queen jumps out of the helicopter! Or at least someone dressed as the Queen. The famous Bond theme kicks into gear as the "Queen" parachutes (with a United Kingdom flag on the back) into the stadium. Enthralling!

Update: ... through the Olympic rings hanging under Tower Bridge ...

Update: Now a video is playing featuring Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth II. The two of them enter a British-colored helicopter in the Royal yard and are flying over London ...

Update: The music ends momentarily, and a roar of applause meets the five golden rings above the stadium.

Update: The industrial age smokestacks are now forging five giant golden rings that are joining above the ceremony to form the Olympic logo! Fireworks are raining on the proceedings. A wonderful sight!

Update: They've now brought out the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper procession, the Chelsea pensioners and some World War II era artifacts. No apparent chronology to the presentation but a breathtaking spectacle nonetheless!

Update: Women now marching as Suffragists from the late 1800s and early 1900s, while the rest of the cast dressed as citizens of the industrial age are now dancing and marching.

Update: A full marching band is now playing as the English Industrial Revolution period is simulated. Very detailed and coordinated.

Update: A formally dressed Kenneth Brannagh is quoting Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

Update: The Opening Ceremony is officially under way! A children's choir is singing "Danny Boy" amid a simulated English countryside. Highlights of the United Kingdom and various sports are playing over the music.

NBC Sports is not streaming the Opening Ceremony of the London Games live. Other media outlets are not permitted to use unauthorized footage, but stay here for the latest updates.

Academy Award winner Danny Boyle, director of "Slumdog Millionaire" and "127 Hours," and the mastermind behind the Opening Ceremony, has already said there is no way his show will top the opulent human spectacle in Beijing. But that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to look forward to.

Boyle's $41 million presentation will be divided into separate segments and include more than 10,000 volunteers, more than 100 farm animals, mosh pits, electronic music, rain-making machines, and bells. It will also include Paul McCartney and perhaps even a fight between some famous fictional characters (including Mary Poppins).

It's so ambitious, the International Olympic Committee has asked Boyle to trim the running time and even cut some segments.

Who knows what it will all add up to? Keep checking in with Yahoo! for all the news from the Opening Ceremony.

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