Despite flubs, opening ceremony a ringing start to 2012 Olympics

The Olympic rings are assembled above the stadium in a scene depicting the Industrial Revolution during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

(CBS News) LONDON - Years of planning, building, and worrying climaxed in London on Friday as the moment arrived to "let the games begin."

The opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics drew 60,000 spectators in the stadium and perhaps 1 billion more worldwide.

2012 Olympics: London's star-studded audience for the opening ceremony
With royalty and rock, London opens its Olympics

Earlier, the Olympic flame completed its long journey from Greence with a cruise on the River Thames aboard the royal barge.

The idea was to ring the games in. The big bell in Big Ben worked fine, but the little bell in the hand of Britain's sports minister, Jeremy Hunt -- not so much. The bell broke and went flying into the crowd.

"Terrible moment there," Hunt admitted.

There was another bad moment when Mitt Romney, in London as part of his foreign campaign swing, couldn't get to a meeting by car and had to walk because a taxi driver protest had stopped traffic.

Romney has made headlines in London after he questioned London's readiness for the games. His son, Tagg, continued the controversy today, tweeting that his family was stuck in Olympic traffic, although he did say that London cabs were cool.

But Michelle Obama, who is representing the President, was pulling in another direction. She is here to encourage the U.S. Olympic team and to make more positive diplomatic noises about their British hosts.

"Oh my goodness. The United Kingdom, they've had a phenomenal year. They've pulled off a major wedding, a diamond jubilee and now the Olympics. They know what they're doing," she told CBS News.

And after weeks of pre-show jitters about how it would all work on the night, it did. The final leg of the Olympic flame relay began on a boat speeding along the River Thames and under Tower Bridge. An evening of the usual Olympic pyrotechnics was about to begin.

All the Olympics seem to begin with a little suspense: Will it be ready and will it all work? When it comes to the London Olympics, it all seems to be fine.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.