Athens Olympic officials have been angered by a British tabloid newspaper report claiming to reveal details of the opening ceremony on August 13. The Sunday Mirror reported yesterday that the renovated Olympic stadium would be flooded with millions of gallons of water to set the stage for a three-hour extravaganza including 400 drummers making the sound of a heart beat.

Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis said rumours and leaks so close to the Games were bad for business.

"What worries me, or rather, what annoys me is that 20 days before the beginning of the great celebration we are wasting our time on rumours and leaks which create a bad atmosphere instead of the opposite," he told the daily Kathimerini.

The Sunday Mirror also said the ceremony would begin with a countdown, followed by an explosion of white light and a flame racing across the spectacular 80 metre high steel roof. A comet would then hit the lake and a giant paper boat carrying a child glide to centre stage.

Organisers have built a huge water pump and hole in the centre of the pitch, which were visible during construction. Large steel rods, as high as 20 metres, have also been positioned around the stadium. The Sunday Mirror said the show's centrepiece, to be played out in front of a 55,000 capacity crowd, will feature more than 400 ancient mythological figures, dancers and puppeteers in boats.

Filed by Mark O'Neill-Cummins