Ring in the games: Countdown to Olympics


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LONDON - Time to ring in the games. Almost.

Five super-sized Olympic rings were lowered off Tower Bridge on Wednesday, draping the internationally recognized symbol over the landmark spanning the Thames river.

London Mayor Boris Johnson gave the order to lower the rings with a few words barked into a walkie-talkie from a barge circling below.

The fusing of a London icon - the gateway to the city - with the rings is a signal that London is ready to go one month before the Olympic games, which start July 27 and end on Aug. 12.

"We are as ready as any city has ever been at this stage in the Olympic process," Johnson said. "I think probably better."

The massive rings - 25 meters (82 feet) wide and 11.5 meters (37 feet) tall - are part of efforts to bedeck the city in Olympic banners and bold colors.

LOOKIN' GOOD - OR AT LEAST BRIGHT

Meanwhile, all over London, the theme colors of the games are being raised on light posts, city buildings and in shopping areas. London's look is predominantly pink, aqua blue, yellow, purple and green - not quite neon but usually shown in shards at the edges of Olympic banners.

There's even a "Look Book" for ideas. Local neighborhoods can purchase materials to festoon their buildings in games-approved decor.

BUILDING A BEACH

With most of the Olympic venues finished, one of the few big projects still under way is the beach volleyball venue on the Mall, a street near Buckingham Palace in central London. The construction had to wait because of celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth II's 86th birthday and her Diamond Jubilee celebrations of 60 years on the throne.

It's a big project - not just a few piles of sand and some bleachers. A 15,000-seat arena is being built, complete with lighting rigs, facilities for athletes, media and staff, six training courts and security screening areas.

And yes, there is sand. Lots and lots of it - about 4,115 tons.

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