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London Olympics: Watching The Opening Ceremony, And This Weekend's Events

The London 2012 Summer Games are set to begin in earnest, with today's opening ceremony kicking off a weekend of gold-medal competitions. But if you're in America and you hope to watch the Opening Ceremony live, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed: NBC is tape-delaying its broadcast until Friday night.

That sets the Opening Ceremony apart from nearly all other Olympic events, which are being live-streamed online and broadcast on NBC and its affiliated cable channels, from MSNBC to Bravo. As many Torch readers have noted, the full live-streaming schedule is available only to customers of TV providers.

Viewing Times For The Ceremony

With its "Isles of Wonder" theme, the Opening Ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m., London time. That's 4 p.m. EDT, but the ceremony's American broadcast will be delayed until 7:30 p.m. in the Eastern and Pacific time zones; those in the Central zone can watch at 6:30 p.m.

NBC has set aside four and a half hours for the broadcast. Here at The Torch, we'll have more about the ceremony and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron later today.

As we reported earlier, the odds-on favorite to light the Olympic Cauldron is legendary runner Roger Bannister — he of the 4-minute mile. At least, he's the favorite of British bookies, who are giving even odds on Bannister.

Of course, Friday's ceremony is just that: ceremonial. Actual medal competitions begin Saturday — and on today's Morning Edition, NPR's Howard Berkes and Mike Pesca chatted with co-host Renee Montagne about what events they're keeping an eye on this weekend.

Three Showdowns Among Teammates

"You've got Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte from the United States going head-to-head right off the bat tomorrow, in the 400 individual medley," Howard says. That race is scheduled for Saturday, at 2:30 p.m. EDT.

"On the women's side, Missy Franklin, the young high-schooler from Colorado," Howard says, is "the next big star for the American women."

Franklin will be going for gold as part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team Saturday afternoon. The final is slated for 3:50 p.m. EDT. She'll also swim backstroke, when preliminary heats begin Sunday.

Also Sunday, Howard says that he'll also be watching the U.S. women's gymnastics team's qualification round.

"This vivacious 16-year-old, Gabby Douglas, and Jordyn Wieber," he says, will be competing against one another. "They're destined to be the next big stars for the U.S., as gymnastics transitions into a new group of women."

For his part, Mike Pesca says he's eager to watch two Jamaicans face off, in next week's 100-meter dash.

"To me, the dash, although it takes place in 9.7 seconds, is as dramatic as can be. And everyone knows that Usain Bolt, with his lightning-bolt pose, is the favorite. But he didn't even win in Jamaica. Yohan Blake, his teammate and best friend, bested him. And his start is getting slower and slower."

The Blade Runner, And Baby On Board

Aside from those rivalries, Mike and Howard are also following other stories in London.

"I'm really interested in seeing Oscar Pistorius, the South African sprinter who is a double amputee," Howard says. "For the first time ever, a double amputee will be running in the Olympics. He has the fastest time this year for a South African. This is a ground-breaking event for the Olympics."

Howard predicts that while Pistorius isn't likely to make it to the final in the men's 400-meter event, his racing in the preliminary heats, which begin Aug. 4, will likely draw droves of viewers.

And Mike says he'll be sure to watch at least one shooting event.

"I'm just so excited to see a 34-week pregnant woman shoot a gun," he says. "There's a Malaysian shooter who falls in that camp" — referring to Nur Suryani Mohammed Taibi, 29, who is due to give birth in September.

Taibi, who competes in the 10-meter air rifle competition, told the Olympic news service today that she's not expecting any problems: "I will breathe in and breathe out and try to calm myself down and talk to baby: 'Behave yourself and help Mummy to shoot.' And luckily she understands. She always understands."

"There are so many weird, interesting stories," Mike says, citing as an example "the Chechnyan wrestlers. They wrestle for Russia; they don't like Russia. But they do it for their own glory."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.