LONDON — Big Ben chimed 40 times. The archers were on target with two world records at Lord's. And the opening ceremony expected to feature real farm animals and former Beatle Paul McCartney was set to dazzle London's Olympic Park.
Finally, let the games begin.
Seven years after the British capital won the right to host the Olympics, the city was ready to celebrate the official start of the 30th edition of the Summer Games.
After two days of football preliminaries outside London, the city held its first Olympic competition Friday — archery at the hallowed cricket ground.
There was some confusion at the site when people mistakenly thought they could enter the free competition without a ticket.
There were no such problems on the pitch, where South Korean archers set the first two world records of London 2012.
Im Dong-hyun, who is legally blind, broke his own individual record for 72 arrows and joined Kim Bub-min and Oh Jin-hyek to set a team record for 216 arrows.
"This is just the first round, so I will not get too excited by it," Im said.
Earlier Friday, Big Ben, one of the city's most recognizable landmarks, chimed for three minutes in honor of the opening ceremony featuring Queen Elizabeth II and directed by celebrated filmmaker Danny Boyle. Oh, and 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and three sheep dogs, among others, with former Beatle McCartney reportedly set to end the three-hour show.
The weather office was predicting a dry evening, with only a low risk of a shower, although it did point out that it could not vouch for any 'artificial' rain reportedly set for part of the ceremony.
In other Olympic news, talks were under way to allow a female judo athlete to compete for Saudi Arabia after the sport's governing federation said she would not be allowed to wear a headscarf in competition.
Saudi Arabia, which sent its first two female Olympians to the London Games, had only agreed to let women participate if they adhered to the kingdom's conservative Islamic traditions, including wearing a headscarf.
But on Thursday, the International Judo Federation said Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani would not be allowed to wear a headscarf because it was against principles of judo and raised safety concerns. Negotiations are continuing.
A South Korean sailing coach is already on the way home. The South Korea Sailing Federation said coach Lee Jae-cheol was sent back after being stopped by police for drunk driving after attending a banquet hosted by the mayor of Weymouth outside London. The federation apologized on Lee's behalf.
On Saturday, archery was to present its first medals in men's team competition, part of a blockbuster 19-sport schedule on the first full day of competition.
One of the biggest events Saturday will be the men's cycling road race featuring Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and world champion Mark Cavendish, who could help give Britain its first gold medal of the games.
"It's a dream team," Cavendish said. "We've got the first and second of the Tour de France, four guys who won stages at the Tour de France, the British champion, four guys incredibly motivated, four guys incredibly patriotic, incredibly loyal to each other."
Other sports included women's basketball — featuring the gold medal-favorite United States against Croatia and perennial silver medalists Australia against Britain, and preliminary women's beach volleyball at the Horse Guards Parade.
At the Aquatics Centre, Australian Stephanie Rice hoped to repeat her 400-meter individual medley gold medal from Beijing. Other sports included men's bantamweight and middleweight boxing, the dressage portion of three-day eventing in equestrian, fencing, gymnastics, judo, rowing at Windsor outside London, shooting, table tennis, handball and tennis at Wimbledon.