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The Globe and Mail

Danny Boyle shortens Olympic opening ceremony run time

Performers arrive at the Olympic Stadium for opening ceremony rehearsals for the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 15, 2012, in London.

Associated Press

Organizers for the London Olympics have cut the opening ceremony by about 30 minutes over fears the program would run too long for spectators and athletes.

The $42-million ceremony in the Olympic stadium is being produced by film director Danny Boyle, famous for Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, and is titled Isles of Wonder. Games organizers worried the production would go far beyond midnight making it too late for 80,000 spectators and athletes. As a result, a bicycle stunt has been axed.

"We need to make sure the show comes in on time to make sure spectators can get home on public transport so we have taken the tough decision to cut a small stunt bike sequence of the show," a Games spokesman told the Guardian newspaper. "We will be paying contracts in full and giving full credit in the program. The show is set to finish between 12 and 12:30 a.m."

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The International Olympic Committee had also been pressing organizers to make the ceremony shorter in order to ensure athletes got enough sleep.

Mr. Boyle has spent months working on a 90-minute opening which starts at 9 p.m. next Friday and includes the ringing of the world's largest harmonically-tuned bell, inscribed with a quote from Shakespeare's The Tempest. There will also be a performance from Paul McCartney, a cast of thousands and an opening sequence entitled "Green and Pleasant" featuring an idyllic view of Britain with farmers, green pastures, 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, ducks, eight geese, 70 sheep and three dogs.

The program is followed by the parade of athletes from 204 countries, which could also take at least 90 minutes.

Top tickets for the event are going for more than $3,000.

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