A string of A-list celebrities including Tom Cruise, Madonna and Brad Pitt are flying to the Greek capital Athens ahead of the opening ceremony of the OLYMPIC GAMES this Friday (13AUG04).

The list includes Angelina Jolie, a pregnant Julia Roberts, DAVID and Victoria Beckham, Britney Spears, Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, SYLVESTER STALLONE and members of the British Royal Family.

Hollywood stars Roberts and Nicholson have rented villas about 35 miles (kilometres) from Athens, whereas soccer star Beckham and his ex-Spice Girls wife have already booked a suite aboard the QUEEN MARY II - the world's most luxurious cruise ship - which will dock at the city's Piraeus port.

Spears, her fiance Kevin Federline and twelve of her pals have also taken to the water - renting a luxury yacht to cruise around the Greek Islands.

Pop queen Madonna has also booked a yacht and villa in the area.

However these high profile guests will add more pressure to the already stretched security budget.

The Greek government have already spent three times more on security than organisers of the last games in Sydney, Australia four years ago (00) - with the bill already exceeding a massive $900 million (GBP500 million).

11/08/2004 14:04