Men's football was due to take centre-stage at the Olympics on Thursday as officials scrambled to manage the fall-out from a blunder which prompted a North Korean protest on the first day of competition.
The greatest sporting show on earth will officially get under way on Friday, when around 80,000 VIPs and spectators will flock to the Olympic Stadium for an opening ceremony staged by Oscar-winning British movie director Danny Boyle.
However the sporting action was launched with the opening matches of the women's football tournament at venues across Britain on Wednesday, with their male counterparts entering the fray later Thursday.
The highlights will include the first appearance by a British men's team at an Olympics for 52 years when the host nation take on Senegal in frount of around 70,000 fans at Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United.
Great Britain men's football captain Ryan Giggs (far left) take part in a squad training session at their training base in Ashby-de-la-Zouch on July 9. Men's football was due to take centre-stage at the Olympics as officials scrambled to manage the fall-out from a blunder which prompted a North Korean protest on the first day of competition.
Britain's participation in the football tournament followed protracted wrangling between the English Football Association and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish federations, who opposed fielding a unified team.
However Britain's Welsh captain -- United star Ryan Giggs -- is determined to make the most of his first and last appearance at a major tournament.
"To get the chance to play in a tournament at such a late stage of my career is one I'm excited about," said Giggs. "It's not something which will come around every year and one you want to enjoy being part of."
Britain's match kicks off at 8pm local time (1900 GMT), with tournament favourites Brazil and Spain also in action elsewhere.
Olympics organisers were meanwhile forced into damage limitation mode late on Wednesday when an embarrassing mix-up prompted North Korea's women's football team to stage an impromptu protest which delayed the start of their 2-0 win over Colombia in Glasgow.
The North Koreans were furious after their players were introduced on an electronic screen alongside an image of the South Korean flag.
"We were angry because our players were introduced as if they are from South Korea, something that may affect us very greatly as you might know," North Korea coach Sin Ui-Gun said after the match.
Graphic showing the flags of North Korea and South Korea. The 2012 Olympics got off to an embarrassing start when North Korea's women footballers refused to play after a mix-up over their national flag.
Olympic organisers offered a swift apology to the North Koreans following the gaffe, assuring in a statement "steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again."
Meanwhile, two of the superstars of the Olympics -- US swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt -- will shed light on their preparations in separate press conferences later Thursday.
Most interest will surround the appearance of reigning 100m and 200m champion and world's fastest man Bolt, who has kept a low profile since arriving in Britain ahead of the Games.
Bolt has had a troubled build-up, losing to compatriot Yohan Blake twice in the Jamaican trials and suffering a "slight injury" which forced his withdrawal from a meeting in Monaco last week.