Anticipation was building on the streets of Cardiff as the Welsh capital prepared to play host to the first sporting action of the London Olympics. While the opening ceremony does not take place until Friday, the Millennium Stadium today plays host to the group stage meeting between Team GB and New Zealand in the women's football competition.
Glorious sunshine greeted Lord Coe, the chairman of the Games organising committee, as he visited the ground just hours ahead of kick off. While Coe will not be at this afternoon's game he took the time to address the security and volunteer staff working at the stadium, warmly thanking them for their efforts and encouraging them to enjoy a "once in a lifetime" experience.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter is set to attend the opening event of the Games, which ends a seven-year wait for the Olympics to begin after London was awarded the right to host them back in July 2005. Today's fixture will also be the first Olympic Games action to take place in Britain since the 1948 Games, also hosted by London.
Following his tour of the stadium, Lord Coe said: "One of the commitments we made when we were bidding, and I felt strongly about this as somebody who was not brought up in London, was this had to be about the whole of the UK, and this is a really strong signal to our commitment to that concept.
"A lot of the Games are in London but this is not uniquely a London story. When I came in this morning I felt I was arriving in an Olympic city. I have been to Cardiff plenty of times but it had a different feel about it today."
Among the volunteers at the Millennium Stadium will be retired teacher Susan Enright from Vancouver, who previously volunteered at a number of events, including the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Enright told Press Association Sport: "My Olympic journey started a couple of years before the Winter Olympics. I had worked at World Cup events for biathlon and cross country skiing, for paralympic and able-bodied athletes, and it was such a wonderful experience that my husband and I went on to volunteer for the Winter Olympics.
"After those Games we had a lot of emails from the IOC saying they were looking for volunteers in London and here I am."
Of being addressed by Lord Coe, teacher and broadcaster Ioan Dyer added: "He is an iconic figure, I remember him as an athlete with Steve Ovett in 1980 and it is a bit surreal to see him down here addressing us guys, but on the other hand it makes it seem more real that the Games are about to start.
Around 40,000 tickets have been sold for Team GB's fixture against New Zealand, which will be followed by a match between Cameroon and Brazil. With the game due to kick off at 4pm, there were already fans gathering around Cardiff ahead of the game, with many resplendent in Team GB clothing.
Team GB supporter Matthew Jones had travelled from Swansea to watch today's action, and spoke of his pride at Wales' involvement in the Games. "It's brilliant to be here," he told Press Association Sport. "There is unlikely to be another Olympics in Britain during my lifetime and I wanted to make sure I saw as much of it as I can.
"I have tickets for some of the other football games in the stadium but this is extra special as it starts the Games off, I feel so proud that Wales is playing a part in one of the biggest sporting events in the world."