Ready or Not, London Olympics Set to Start

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The pressure is on and expectations are high for the London 2012 Olympics. With the $42 million opening ceremony just hours away, Olympic organizers are busy with last minute preparations and final rehearsals.

Meanwhile, despite security fears, political missteps and traffic issues, athletes are ready to compete.

Romney's Olympic Faux Paux

In a political slip up, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney showed a lack of confidence in London's preparations.

"You know it's hard to know how well it will turn out," the presumptive GOP nominee said.

Romney quickly clarified his comment, citing his own difficulties at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.    

"All the mistakes the organizing committee - and I made a few - all of those are overwhelmed by the many things that the athletes carry out," he said.

Even so, his comments set off a firestorm in London. In front of a crowd of 60,000, London Mayor Boris Johnson blasted Romney for his remarks.

"There's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready?" he challenged those gathered, eliciting screams of affirmation from the London crowd.   

Is London Ready?

But in reality, it's a question everyone's asking: Is London ready?

"Our absolute top priority must be to keep people safe," British Prime Minister David Cameron said.

The British military is helping to make the prime minister's words a reality. Soldiers recently home from deployment were called in to offer extra ground support after private security guards failed to show up.

"You can't be absolutely certain about anything with a temporary workforce," Paul Deighton, chief executive of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, said.

Traffic is another concern. This year's Olympics are the first where everyone is encouraged to take public transit. Special Olympic traffic lanes have been set up, but they're reserved for Olympic competitors, officials, and sponsors.

Meanwhile, ordinary motorists say traffic is a nightmare, and the subway system isn't much better.

"It's taken me like two hours to get through," one motorist said.

"The volume of people we're talking about and pressure on certain parts of the network -- there are certain stations that will be very, very busy," London Transport Director David Rowe said.
    
But amid all the chaos of pulling together an event of this size, athletes say they're ready - whether London is or not.

The U.S. women's soccer team is already off to a winning start, beating France 4 to 2 in a preliminary match. The women's team clinched the gold in Beijing four years ago.

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