Opening ceremony plans in jeopardy

Danny Boyle, the film director masterminding the opening cermony of the London Olympics, has pleaded for the start time to be delayed till sunset to allow his show maximum visual impact.

Boyle wants darkness to have fallen so that the fireworks display is seen to best effect but it means an hour and an half delay from the planned 7.30pm opening and could cause chaos for anyone trying to get home from the ceremony.

By delaying the start of the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony to 8.55pm, as desired by Mr Boyle, according to the Sunday Times, guests who stayed on until the end in East London wouldn't get to start their journeys home until after 1am.

The crowd at the ceremony is expected to be about 80,000 and a further 130,000 are forecast to watch it on giant television creens erected in Hyde park, Victoria Park and close to City Hall. there is particular concern that a late start and finish would be unfair on elderly guests, such as the Queen, who would be 86, and Prince Philip, who would be 91.

Transport for London, which has reponsibility for underground trains and buses in the London, had been expecting the last service out of Stratford, where the Olympics are to be held, to run at 1.30am.

However, it is possible they would be willing to put on extra services out of Stratford and to other parts of London should the Olympic organisers agree to a late start and finish to the ceremony.

Mr Boyle, the director of Slumdog Millionnaire and Trainspotting, has promised an "epic and intimate" show which would be diluted by daylight.

A further hitch caused by his request for a delay is that thousands of brochures have already been published with 7.30pm given as the start time. The Olympic count-down clock would also have to be adjusted.

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