Director Danny Boyle certainly had a lot of suprises up his sleeve in the Opening Ceremony of the London Games on Friday night. From Mr. Bean joining the London Philharmonic Orchestra in its rendition of Chariots of Fire, to Her Majesty the Queen collaborating with James Bond and eventually parchuting out of a plane into the stadium, there was never a dull moment during the event. But perhaps the biggest surprise was left until the very end, when all eyes were on the cauldron lighting to officially open the games.
For years now, bookies have been offering odds on who will light the Olympic flame, and from early on, Sir Steven Redgrave was a firm favourite. But spectators were left baffled when Redgrave made do with second best and ran into the arena with the torch. The immediate question thereafter, was: Who will light the cauldron?
It turned out that, in line with the ’inspiring the youth’ message of the London Games, the cauldron would be lit by not one particular athlete but seven young athletes personally chosen by British Olympic heroes to do the honors.
A number of UK bookmakers decided that, in all fairness, it would have been impossible for their punters to predict the choice and therefore opted to refund all Olympic cauldron lighting bets.
“What happened, no one could have predicted,” said Graham Sharpe, speaking for William Hill, one of the bookmakers which decided to refund the bets.. “It was not put to us, nobody quoted it. The only fair thing to do was to refund all the bets from over the last seven years.”
“Sir Steve Redgrave was an early favourite,” said Sharpe. “It’s like a horse coming along the final leg, then along comes another horse and the jockey jumps off and gets on the other one.”
William Hill took in bets worth over £50,000 on this particular market, with most of them being small wagers of £5, £10 and £20. The highest bet placed on this “lively market”, according to the bookie was £100.