Members of the Olympic movement were given a taste of British culture at a Royal Opera House reception where London Mayor Boris Johnson welcomed them by reciting a poem in English and ancient Greek.
Committee members including Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene listened as Boris read the ode specifically created for the London 2012 Games at his suggestion by Oxford academic Dr Armand D'Angour.
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The poem in the style of Greek author Pindar contains puns on the athlete's names and that of Lord Coe.
Declaiming in his typically flamboyant fashion before an audience including Princess Anne, the Mayor, who studied Classics at the university, won cheers, applause and whistles.
It was an ovation even bigger than that for Placido Domingo and Bryn Terfel singing music from the opera Tosca and Beethoven's Ode to Joy.
Earlier, the Queen laid on a reception for the VIP visitors at Buckingham Palace.
Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Comittee, presented Her Majesty with her own set of gold, silver and bronze medals.
She responded by praising the "dedication, hard work and personal sacrifice" of the athletes.
"We send our warm wishes to them all for a rewarding and enjoyable Games."
The full Pindaric Ode for the 2012 Olympics
The new Olympic flame behold,
that once burned bright in Greece of old;
with happy hearts receive once more
these Games revived on London's shore.
Praise rival teams, in sport allied,
as athletes stream from far and wide;
the poet too must take the road
conveying praise to victory owed.
Millions of watchers will embrace
the passion of each close-run race,
The efforts of the rowing teams
and gymnasts on balancing beams.
They will observe with rapt delight
the archer draw his bowstring tight,
the skilful rider guide her horse
and lightning bolt around the course.
The pipes will play,the drum resound,
as medallists are daily crowned;
the crowd’s hurrah will reach the skies
when victors hoist the golden prize.
Now welcome to this seagirt land,
with London’s Mayor and co. at hand
good luck to all who strive to win:
applaud and let the Games begin!