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Countdown to Paralympics is under way
5:28pm Wednesday 29th August 2012 in London Olympics 2012 - Latest News
The final countdown to the Paralympics is under way as organisers revealed details of the spectacular curtain-raiser to the London 2012 Games.
Professor Stephen Hawking will have a starring role in the opening ceremony, which will feature a host of deaf and disabled artists, local children and performers newly trained in circus skills at the Olympic Stadium.
The show, called Enlightenment, will urge the 62,000-strong crowd to take part in the world's largest "apple crunch" as each spectator is given an apple to bite simultaneously.
Empowerment and challenging perceptions are some of the themes of the Paralympics opener, which also stars Sir Ian McKellen and references Shakespeare's The Tempest.
The Paralympic Flame has continued its journey to the opening ceremony as the 24-hour relay reached some of the capital's most famous landmarks. Five torchbearers arrived at the zebra crossing outside Abbey Road recording studios to recreate the pose made famous by The Beatles.
The torch will also have visited London Zoo, Regent Street, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall on its path to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. However, organisers said they may be forced to make adjustments to the route after falling up to two hours behind schedule.
The opening ceremony, signalling the start of 11 days of competition by nearly 4,300 athletes from 166 countries, will be opened with a flypast by Aerobility, a charity that trains disabled people to become pilots.
The cast also includes past Paralympians and injured soldiers. More than 3,000 adult volunteers are taking part in the ceremony, along with more than 100 children and a professional cast of 100.
With huge demand for tickets, the Paralympics are, like the Olympics, expected to be one of the most successful Games ever. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said they will change attitudes towards disability around the world.
More than 2.4 million tickets have already been sold - half a million of those to overseas visitors. Ten thousand tickets will be available each day during the event and the Games are on course to be the first Paralympics to sell out.