London: David Beckham has been lined up to have a starring role at the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday night, reports suggest.
The 37-year-old, who was overlooked for the Great Britain football team for the Games, will have a “specially created” part in the £27 million Danny Boyle showpiece.
According to an Olympic source quoted in People, Beckham’s role will come as a big surprise on the night. “It is something which nobody will be able to guess. It’s different from anything anyone would expect,” the source said.
“It promises to be an occasion that will bring joy to Beckham’s British fans who were left disappointed that he was left out of Team GB.”
Organisers are hoping to keep Beckham’s role secret until the last minute but he is expected to fly in next week from the United States to attend final rehearsals.
The former England captain featured heavily in the campaign to bring the Olympics to Britain in Singapore in 2005 and has since regularly featured in the build-up as an Olympic ambassador.
Team GB football manager Stuart Pearce left Beckham out of his squad for the competition after deciding to take Manchester City defender Micah Richards instead. But Beckham was said to be delighted on Saturday night after discovering he had been given a major Olympics role after all.
He was among the representatives, along with Princess Anne, that flew the Olympic flame back from Greece and before his omission Beckham had been believed to be in the running to light the Olympic cauldron.
However, he has since said the role should be reserved for someone who has achieved Olympic greatness.
Suggestions he could be one of the eight Britons to carry the Olympic flag into the stadium have also been dismissed.
The LA Galaxy midfielder said after being left out of the squad: “Everyone knows how proud I am of representing my country and to do it in my home town on such a big stage would have been incredible so, of course, I’m disappointed, but life goes on.
“My family are healthy, I’m pretty healthy, so at the end of the day, I’ll be there to support the GB team. It’s going to be a proud moment to be there and know that I was part of bringing the Olympics to the East End of London.”
“Like I said, life moves on and I hope the GB team go to the Olympics and win as many medals, as many gold medals as possible.”
Meanwhile, London mayor Boris Johnson will read out an Olympic ode in ancient Greek composed by an Oxford academic to celebrate the athletes and personalities of the London 2012 Games as part of opening ceremony.
The ode is in the style of ancient Greek poet Pindar, whose poems celebrating the victorious Olympic competitors of the ancient world were highly prized.
Oxford classics faculty member Armand D’Angour wrote the ode at the instigation of the loquacious London mayor, who took his degree in Classics at Oxford, and includes references to athletes and personalities such as sprinter Usain Bolt and London Olympic organising committee chairman Sebastian Coe.
“Pindar was the greatest poet of his time, and sponsors paid a great deal of money for athletic victors to be honoured with an Ode by him,” D’Angour said in a statement.
“I have aimed to be faithful to ancient style and form, and used alcaic metre. Of course the puns may make people groan, but Pindar’s audiences may have done so too!”
Johnson, who will read out the ode at Monday’s opening gala for the International Olympic Committee, said he was looking forward to demonstrating his command of ancient Greek before IOC and delivering a second reading in English.
“I shall try to resist the temptation to regale the attendees a further time in Latin, though I cannot make any promises,” he said.
D’Angour wrote the ode in ancient Greek with modern lyrics.
The six English stanzas are written in rhyming couplets and include references to Usain Bolt (‘the lightning bolt around the track’), to London’s mayor (Boris’s name is punned on by barus in Greek, which means ‘weighty’), and Coe (‘Join London’s mayor and co. within’).