Around 1,000 members of the so-called “Olympic family”, including 350 athletes, were due to fly into Heathrow on the first day of arrivals, as a brigade of cheerful volunteers swung into action to welcome them.

In total almost 237,000 passengers were set to pass through the airport on the western edge of the British capital, compared to 190,000 on an ordinary day, officials said. “We are expecting people from over 50 nations today,” said Tom Willis, operations director for Heathrow’s Terminal 4.