The world's largest sports festival, the 2012 Summer Olympics, will kick off in London at 9 p.m. on Friday at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London. The opening ceremony starts at 5 a.m. Saturday (Korean time). The Games will continue for 17 days until Aug. 12.
The 30th Summer Olympics have drawn some 10,500 athletes from 204 member countries, who will compete for 302 gold medals in 26 disciplines. Some 245 Korean athletes will compete in 22 disciplines, with the aim of finishing within the top 10 by winning at least 10 gold medals.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Korea finished seventh in the medal table with 13 gold, 10 silver and eight bronze.
The opening ceremony will be attended by some 120 heads of state, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama. Korea will be the 99th country to enter the opening ceremony after Kiribati, an island nation in the South Pacific.
Yoon Kyung-shin, a veteran player in the men's handball team who marks his fifth Olympics, will be the flag bearer. He played the same role at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in China.
London is the first city in the world to host three Summer Olympics, after it previously did so in 1908 and 1948. Korea sent 50 athletes and 17 officials to the 1948 London Games, the first time the country carried its own flag since Japanese occupation ended. It took 21 days for Korean athletes to arrive in England by sea. The squad picked up two bronze medals, one by Han Soo-ann in boxing and the other by weightlifter Kim Sung-jip, to finish 23rd out of the 59 participating countries.
This time around in London, Korea aims to set a new milestone by grabbing its 100th gold medal. To date, it has picked up 91 under its own flag. It also hopes to surpass 300 medals overall, having already secured 260 at both the Summer and Winter Games.
Korean archers will launch the country's medal hunt as their competitions begin from 5 p.m. on Friday (Korean time). Shooter Jin Jong-oh, the men's archery team, fencer Nam Hyun-hee, swimmer Park Tae-hwan, and shooter Kim Jang-mi will all be aiming for gold medals over the weekend.