Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 chairman, made an unscheduled appearance in the Olympic Village here this afternoon for the first of what will be 204 Welcoming Ceremonies at the Games – with the two-strong British Virgin Islands team receiving the first official greeting.
Speaking after Dame Tessa Jowell, Deputy Mayor of the Village, had extended her "warmest welcome" on behalf of the United Kingdom, Coe said: "There is nothing like the chairman of the Organising Committee to buck the protocol, but as this is the first of our Welcoming Ceremonies – and I don't think I will be doing this for the 203 other versions – I felt it was appropriate to echo the welcome that Tessa Jowell has just given.
"We have prepared what we hope is the best possible village for your athletes.
"I hope you spend your time here fruitfully, and that your athletes go home refreshed and hopefully with medals.
"You are extraordinarily welcome, and we look forward to seeing more of you in the course of the next few weeks.
"Thank you for being here."
The two athletes – 100 metres runners J'Maal Alexander and Tahesia Harrigan-Scott (pictured top, with Coe) – have been staying with hosts in the small village of Aston, close to Stevenage in Hertfordshire.
They and their party of officials were greeted by members of the National Youth Theatre in colourful motley performing acrobatics and songs.
The British Virgin Islands NOC representative then added his signature to the Olympic Truce wall before the flag was raised to the national anthem.
-Mike Rowbottom at Olympic Village in London