Britain’s swimmers have confirmed that they will join Team GB’s athletes, track cyclists and rowers in missing Friday night’s opening ceremony at the Olympic stadium in east London.
Team GB has previously estimated around half of the 541-strong team will not attend, meaning major stars such as Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Mo Farah will not parade at the climax of the Danny Boyle-directed extravaganza that is expected to be watched by a worldwide audience of up to one billion people.
The British team are the last to enter the stadium, at what is expected to be close to midnight, and that was a factor in the decision. Goddard said: “It’s a long day, there’s a lot of walking involved, a party atmosphere I suppose, especially with it being the next day we need to stay relaxed and focused on our race.”
Even Keri-Anne Payne, the world 10km open water champion, will not attend despite not competing until 9 August. Lord Coe, the chairman of the London organising committee, has encouraged athletes to attend. He cited the proximity of the Olympic Village and pointed out that the athletes do not have to stay late if they do not want to.
Team GB’s 77 track and field athletes will remain in their training camps in Portugal and the French Pyrenees. “Charles van Commenee [the athletics head coach] does not think standing on your feet for several hours is the best preparation,” said a spokeswoman for the track and field team. “But it would be impossible for us anyway. We don’t start arriving until 31 July.”