Olympics 2012: Opening Ceremony cauldron lighter still unknown

The Opening Ceremony for the London Olympics is set for Friday night. Photo: Associated Press
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LONDON (AP) - Not even IOC President Jacques Rogge knows who will light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the London Games - but he'd like it to be an Olympic champion.

"I'd love to know, but I don't know," Rogge said Friday, just hours ahead of the opening at the Olympic Stadium. "This is one of the best kept secrets. We have an agreement with organizing committees. It's your responsibility. We need not know."

Rogge complimented local organizers for managing to keep the identity of the final torchbearer or torchbearers under wraps even from the British media.

"Hats off to the organizing committee," he said. "I know how strong (the British) press is but sometimes the organizing committee is a bit stronger. It's not bad."

British rower Steve Redgrave, who won team gold medals at five consecutive Olympics, has long been considered the favorite for the honor of lighting the flame. Daley Thompson, a two-time decathlon champion, was viewed as his leading challenger.

But Roger Bannister is now the even-money favorite with British bookmaker William Hill after a surge in bets Thursday on the man who broke the 4-minute barrier in the mile in 1954.

Bannister never won an Olympic medal, though, finishing fourth in the 1,500 meters at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

Asked whether the flame lighter should be an Olympic champion, Rogge said: "That would be nice. It is not a prerequisite or obligation, but obviously you think of an Olympic champion to do that."

Rogge said London should not try to compete with the grandiose opening ceremony at the 2008 Beijing Games and should focus on showcasing the British identity.

"The opening ceremony here will be different," he said. "It is wise for London not to try to emulate the open ceremony of Beijing. The Beijing opening ceremony was a manifestation of the most populous country of the world, something the United Kingdom cannot match of course."

Rogge downplayed reports that some tickets remain unsold for the ceremony at the 80,000-capacity stadium directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle.

"It will be a fully packed stadium and, believe me, there will be a great ambiance," he said. "I wouldn't be worried about that."

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