The world will finally experience the pomp and pageantry of the Games of the XXX Olympiad, taking place July 27 to Aug. 12, beginning with the Opening Ceremony, being broadcast tonight at 7:30 p.m. on NBC 10. With the lighting of the Olympic Torch, the two weeks of drama, triumph and tragedy that make the Summer Olympics so compelling will officially begin.
Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States, will be leading the US presidential delegation at London 2012, which will include a ringside seat at the Opening Ceremony.
"Leading our nation's delegation and traveling to London is truly a dream come true," Obama said of her three-day visit. "If anybody had asked me when I was 10 or 11, or actually 40, whether I would have been doing this, I would have bet not. Some of my fondest memories when I was young and not so young involved watching the Olympics on TV and cheering on Team USA."
Many Olympic and Paralympic athletes, including US gymnast Dominique Dawes and basketball player Grant Hill, who both won gold at the 1996 Olympics, will be part of the U.S. delegation.
Obama is due at a Buckingham Palace reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II for the heads of state and to meet Prime Minister David Cameron's wife Samantha. Her official duties before departing on July 29 will include meeting with the U.S. Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic alumni athletes and Team USA supporters.
The theme for this year's Opening Ceremony is "Isle of Wonder, and while details such as who will light the Olympic Torch have largely been kept under wraps, it has been disclosed that Paul McCartney will perform at the end of the ceremony.
As competition gets underway, there are a number of intriguing stories to capture your attention and your imagination, such as Serena Williams' ongoing pursuit of her first Olympic gold medal in women's singles, as well as her attempt to add a third doubles gold to the two titles that she shares with her sister, Venus.
In Track & Field, Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards Ross return to pursue gold in both the 200 and 400 meters, while sprinter Tyson Gay, along with Justin Gatlin, the 100 meter gold medalist in 2004, will resume the fierce rivalry with Jamaican speedsters Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.
London could mean redemption for hurdler Lolo Jones, the favorite in 2008. With the gold medal all but in her hand, Jones clipped a hurdle late in the race, and broke stride in Beijing, allowing Dawn Harper, her American teammate, to blow past her, cross the finish line and claim the gold.
Swimmer Cullen Jones, who won gold in Beijing's heart-stopping 100 meter freestyle relay with Michael Phelps, Garrett Weber-Gayle and Jason Lezak, comes to his second Olympics seeking individual glory in the 50 meter and 100 meter freestyle.
In the marquee sport of gymnastics, U.S. Men's Champion John Orozco, a Bronx native, is expected to vie for the all-around gold, as is Gabrielle Douglas of Virginia Beach, the U.S.A.'s No. 1 Women's contender.
According to the network, NBC will broadcast 272.5 hours over 17 days, beginning with primetime coverage of the Opening Ceremony on July 27. Daytime coverage will begin on most weekdays at 10 a.m., immediately following the "TODAY Show," which will originate from London. On weekends, NBC's daytime shows will begin as early as 5 a.m. Primetime shows will typically air from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., with a 30-minute break followed by an hour of late night coverage. London will be NBC's seventh consecutive Summer Games, dating back to Seoul 1988.
For a complete viewer's guide, video, interviews and comprehensive updates on the Summer Olympics, visit www.nbcolympics.com.