London 2012: Olympic flame to drop into Tower

Tower of London
Image caption The flame will spend a night in the vault with the Olympic medals

The Olympic flame will arrive in the capital by helicopter on Friday and be abseiled into the Tower of London.

It will spend the night there locked in the vault with the Olympic medals before the 200-mile London section of the relay starts from Greenwich.

The 982 London torchbearers include Olympian Daley Thompson and the mother of Stephen Lawrence, Doreen.

The relay will go through every London borough before the cauldron is lit in the opening ceremony on 27 July.

London 2012 organisers estimate that nine million people have turned out to see the torch relay since it started on 18 May.

Image caption The flame will travel on the royal barge, Gloriana on the day of the opening ceremony

The flame has travelled around the British Isles, visiting the Republic of Ireland on the way, and will spend its final week touring the Olympic host city.

Royal Marine Martin Williams will abseil from a helicopter into the Tower at about 20:00 BST on Friday 20 July.

"The torch will arrive at the Tower of London in spectacular style," said London 2012 organiser Locog's Deborah Hale, who has organised the torch relay.

She said the final week would aim to show off London landmarks like St Paul's Cathedral and Downing Street.

On Friday 27 July, the torch will begin its last day by visiting the maze at Hampton Court Palace before setting sail down the River Thames on the royal barge Gloriana.

At lunchtime it will be taken into City Hall, before being transported to the Olympic Stadium at Stratford to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony.

As with the rest of the relay, rolling road blocks will be in place when the torch travels through each of London's 33 boroughs.

Transport for London is warning people not to attempt to drive around the route.

Thursday 26 July is expected to be one of the busiest days as the relay makes its way from Camden to an evening celebration concert in Hyde Park.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison said 1,000 officers would be available for Olympic duties, including policing the torch.

London route

Among those carrying the flame will be Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence who was stabbed to death in 1993.

Olympian torchbearers include decathlete Daley Thompson who took gold at the 1980 and 1984 Games, javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson who also won gold in 1984 and two times rowing gold medallist James Cracknell.

They will be joined by British former tennis number one Tim Henman who won Olympic doubles silver in 1996, comedian David Walliams and actor Rupert Grint.

The torch will set out on its journey around London at 7:22 on Saturday 21 July at Greenwich park, carried by swimmer and cross country runner Natasha Sinha, 15.

Highlights include:

  • Saturday, 21 July - The torch will be carried by solo-round-the-world yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnson around the newly-restored Cutty Sark. Tessa Sanderson-White will carry the flame in Newham, where she works to encourage young people in sport.
  • Sunday, 22 July - The flame will ride the London Eye, held by the youngest person to ski to the South Pole, Amelia Hempleman-Adams, daughter of the explorer David. It will cross the River Thames on a London Fire Brigade boat among a flotilla and be carried into the evening celebration in Bexley by boxer Lennox Lewis.
  • Monday, 23 July - Monday sees Doreen Lawrence carry the torch outside the Deptford centre set up in her son's memory. The flame visits Eastenders, carried by Billy Mitchell in a live edition of the programme. Tim Henman lights the cauldron on Tooting Bec Common.
  • Tuesday, 24 July - James Cracknell is the day's first torchbearer in Kingston, the flame visits Kew Gardens and the evening celebration takes place in Ealing's Walpole Park.
  • Wednesday, 25 July - Olympic badminton silver medallist Nathan Robertson carries the flame outside the sport's London 2012 venue, Wembley Arena. England '66 World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks takes the Wembley Stadium leg. Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint takes the torch at Middlesex University and the last torchbearer of the day is Daley Thompson.
  • Thursday, 26 July - The day starts at Camden's Roundhouse venue, the torch travels under the rings at St Pancras as the torch tours central areas like Islington, the City, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham. Sport Relief fundraiser and comedian David Walliams carries the torch, and the flame goes to the site of the London 1908 Olympic stadium at White City. Landmarks on this day include St Paul's Cathedral, the Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe theatre, Chelsea FC's Stamford Bridge ground, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and a party in Hyde Park.
  • Friday, 27 July - The torch sets off on its final day from Hampton Court Palace. The flame will travel in a cauldron on board Gloriana and be carried at different points along the river by seven torchbearers. The rowing squad of the royal barge is made up of former Olympic crews and future hopefuls from London Youth Rowing.

The Met Police's AC Allison said people from the 33 London local authorities would be stewarding the route, alongside the police operation.

Crowds and attention on the relay will increase on the London legs, but he said he wanted to keep the feel of the relay's policing operation around the torch consistent with the rest of the country, which has passed largely without incident.

A security "bubble" of Met Police officers in running gear have surrounded the torch on its 8,000 mile journey "meaning the focus has been on the torch rather than us", he said.

Police had also stepped in to help provide some of the additional security left by a shortfall in recruitment by G4S , the firm providing security personnel at the Games, he added.

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