LONDON — Olympic organisers trying to keep London's opening ceremony secret have appealed to rehearsal spectators and performers not to leak details of the event that insiders describe as spectacular with a touch of quirky British humor.
At a rehearsal Monday night, Oscar-winning film-maker Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) asked some 30,000 spectators not to post details or photos on social networks of his $42 million ceremony — and most honored his plea, with a few "secrets" buzzing online Tuesday.
Boyle has voiced frustration at details leaking before today's show, particularly after he unveiled part of the set last month to sate growing curiosity.
But the explosion of social media has made secrets almost impossible to keep at this Olympics.
In a move to counteract leaks, organizers emblazoned a Twitter hashtag ? #savethesurprise on screens inside the Olympic Stadium on Monday, urging people to use that tag to build a buzz before today, and participants hoped this would work.
"The ceremony is very emotional, very British, with quirky humor. And it will have surprises, even for the critics," said Dikaia Chatziefstathiou, who researches the Olympic movement at Canterbury University and is dancing in the opening ceremony.
Chatziefstathiou said the 10,000 volunteer performers in the three-hour ceremony signed contracts stopping them from giving away details or posting photos onto social network sites, but she was allowed to say the show spanned 1896 to the present.
Organizers hope that a spectacular opening will end complaints from Britons about security bungles, transport woes, and the $14.4 billion cost of the Games, being held as Britain faces recession and unemployment of 8.1 percent.
The ceremony poses a challenge to organizers to strike a balance between global and national appeal.
Beijing in 2008 was determined to use an opening ceremony watched by about 1 billion to forge a new identity as a modern, global powerhouse on the world stage and produced a lavish, meticulously choreographed show.
Athens in 2004 used its event and hosting of the Games to try to shed its reputation as a parochial and unruly corner of the European Union, while Sydney in 2000 showcased its appeal as a sophisticated tourist destination, and not just the outback.
Hundreds of people took to Twitter and Facebook after Monday's rehearsal to rave about the event, describing it as "out of this world" , "bonkers" , with some sarcastic silliness and a "mind-blowing finale."
Some details are already known about the ceremony, although at Monday's rehearsal key moments were missing.
"We can't show you everything," Boyle said in a brief introduction to the stunt-filled show. "If you would not tweet and you would not post, especially pictures, we would really, really appreciate it."
The ceremony, titled "Isles of Wonder" and inspired by William Shakespeare's play The Tempest , is due to open at 7:30 p.m. today on NBC (tape delayed) with the ringing of the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world. Queen Elizabeth will open the Games in front of more than 100 world leaders and First Lady Michelle Obama.