LONDON -- The Olympic Games don't formally kick off until tonight's opening ceremonies, and already there seem to be as many non-sports story lines as security contractors (more on that in a moment).North Korean players were introduced with the South Korean flag. Mitt Romney questioned whether organizers were adequately prepared. Iran said it would end a ban on competing against Israel, then the only Iranian athlete who might have faced an Israeli stayed home, citing a sudden stomach infection.The run-up to the 2012 Olympic Games has again proved that politics don't, as the saying goes, stop at the water's edge. Nor do they stop at the sand pit.Mitt Romney had hoped a visit to the Olympics would advertise his own past glory and kick off an overseas trip designed to show him as a statesman ready for the world stage.Instead, the Republican presidential candidate set off an international brouhaha by questioning London's readiness to host the games. He said a controversy over the level of security staffing was "disconcerting."British officials reacted in anger at the challenge from Romney, who boasts of his own role managing the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City."We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world," British Prime Minister David Cameron told a press conference. "Of course, it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."That appeared to be a not-so-veiled reference to Salt Lake City.An emotional dispute also brewed between the International Olympic Committee and the families of the 11 Israeli team members who were killed by Palestinian gunmen 40 years ago at the Olympics in Munich.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has joined the Israeli government and the victims' families in calling for a moment of silence in their memory tonight. IOC President Jacques Rogge has denied the request, saying separate memorial events are planned.Yet the memory of the Munich massacre can't have been far from organizers' minds. Some 36,000 troops, police and hired contractors will stand guard at Olympic venues and on the streets of London and other cities. After the private security firm G4S acknowledged two weeks ago that it wouldn't be able to furnish all of the 10,000 contractors it had agreed to, British officials called up additional service members.Meanwhile, the London Olympics are expected to be the most expensive Games ever, at a cost of more than $14 billion.