Only hours to go before China's big night

August 8, 2008

A three-hour spectacular is promised, starting at 1300 BST, with basketball star Yao Ming to carry the hosts’ flag.

Ireland’s flag will be carried by Sailing star Ciara Peelo.

Irish athlete numbers will be minimal due to performance reasons:

9 sports are in competition tomorrow, and Track and Field athletes together with Emma Davis are in Matsue at their pre Games training camp.Mountain biker Robin Seymour is also yet to arrive in Beijing.

At present athletes likely to attend are:

Cycling: David O’Loughlin

Rowing: Paul Griffen, Richard Archibald,Gearoid Towey,Cathal Moynihan

Sailing: Ciara Peelo ( Flag Bearer), Gerald Owens, Philip Lawton,Peter O’Leary,Stephen Milne

Swimming: Melanie Nocher and Aisling Cooney

16 Sports officials have indicated their attendence together with OCI HQ and medical support staff, led by Irsih Team Chef de Mission Dermot Henihan.

Boxing officials will make a decision on Opening Ceremony participation following the boxing draw this afternoon.

Seventeen of the 28 sports feature action on Saturday, with the Games running until 24 August.

Nigel Ringland will provide a preview later today on the OCI website previewing Irish athletes competing tomorrow.

In all, nearly 11,000 athletes from around the world will compete for around 1,000 medals in 302 events.

The host nation are fielding their biggest ever Olympic team with 639 athletes competing in all 28 sports at the Olympics for the first time, in a bid to top the medals table ahead of the United States.

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