The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Saturday, July 31, 2004


It is reported that the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has conducted approximately 5000 drug tests on athletes, in the first half of 2004; in readiness for the Olympics 2004, which are being held in Athens.

Almost half of the tests were "surprise" tests (the testers turned up at athletes' houses wearing red noses and shouted "Surprise!"). However, 242 were done with advance notice being given to the athletes.

It seems that 12 tests came back positive.

In my view drug testing should be compulsory for all the athletes attending the Olympics, and other major sporting events; that is the only way to clean up the image of sport.

What are peoples' views on this?

Brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Friday, July 30, 2004

Bribery and Corruption, In The Olympics; Surely Not?

The BBC's Panorama programme, due to be shown in the UK this Sunday, has put the "cat among the pigeons" in respect of the integrity and honesty of the Olympic Games.

It is reported to allege that a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was willing to take a bribe, from an undercover reporter, to help London host the 2012 Olympics.

Bribery and corruption, in sport?; surely not!

The IOC have started an internal investigation into the allegations. As an old hand at fraud and audit investigations (see my resume), unless the investigation is carried out by an independent third party; it will not be worth the paper it is printed on.

The IOC president Jacques Rogge has made the right PR noises, by saying that he takes the allegations very seriously etc etc.

It is reported that the BBC have stated that Olympic insiders have said that they have taken kickbacks, paid by previous bidding cities, and that they have been approached in respect of the 2012 Games.

Apart from the lack of infrastructure in London, which in my view pretty well kills the bid anyway, this story should finish off London's chances for good.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

It's The Power Stupid!

Those of you who thought that the recent power blackout in Athens was a one off, should think again.

It seems that over the last fortnight power supplies have been going on and off, more rapidly than a "tart's knickers".

Some cuts in parts of Athens have lasted for up to 2 hours. This is not very pleasant for those people who are in the city at the moment, the temperature is over 35 degrees and the humidity stands at 60%.

The state electricity company (DEI) claim that these outages were due to "technical breakdowns".

Call me pedantic, but isn't that stating the obvious somewhat?

The real "technical problem" is that the power for Athens is generated in the North of Greece; and is being supplied by ageing power lines, which are prone to failure and collapse.

Now don't you think that this issue should have been recognised, and addressed, by the International Olympic Committee; when they were deciding on the merits and demerits of holding the Olympic Games in Athens?

Brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

World's Largest and Longest Party

In order to keep peoples' spirits up, during the forthcoming Olympic Games in Athens, Mayor Dora Bakoyianni has decided to have a citywide party every night during the Games.

In a display of optimistic bravado, the Mayor has booked over 500 concerts and live performances together with other diversions such as; puppet shows, Dutch jazz players, acrobatics and cuisine from around the world.

The party will cost around $5M, now that's a party!

The party may help to boost visitor numbers; as noted earlier on this site, ticket sales are 5 million below target. The mayor has refused to comment on earlier estimates that 1.5 million people would come to Athens.

I suspect that the residents of Athens will be waking up with the world's largest hangover once all of this is over.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Another Nail In The Coffin

In order to help ticket sales, which are currently 5 million below target, the hotel workers in Athens are doing their bit to make the Olympic tourist feel welcome for this year's Olympic Games in Athens.

The hotel workers are planning to go on strike on the 4th of August, just when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) arrive to take a final look at the readiness of Athens to host the Games.

The hotel workers are not alone, in wishing to claim more money during the Olympics; taxi drivers, hotel owners etc have all been pushing the "economic envelope", as they seek ways to milk the "Olympic cow".

It is reported that even some doctors are asking for more money during the Games, doctors in Athens will strike tomorrow for 6 hours.

The current estimate of the costs for holding the Games, by the way, is $12BN.

Value for money?

Comments welcome.

Brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Monday, July 26, 2004


Following on from the recent power cut in Athens, there have been questions raised about the reliability of the IT, power and communication systems being used during the Olympics 2004.

It is reported that all possible threats, from earthquakes to hacking have been taken into account; and that the systems won't go down, they are in effect unsinkable.

There will be 10500 pcs, 4000 terminals and 900 servers employed to cover the Olympic Games. These are powered by two power lines, and employ power supply units that will keep them going for 30 minutes in the event that the main grid goes down.

What could possibly go wrong?

Didn't they say that about the Titanic?

Brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Economic Reality Dawns

It seems that the forces of economics have finally prevailed on the hotel owners of Greece.

As reported earlier on this site, there are some 5 million unsold tickets for the Olympics 2004; which are being held in Athens in a few weeks time. This shortfall of an Olympic audience naturally has had a knock on effect on hotel occupancy rates.

I have noted on several occasions that, when tickets don't sell, one helpful mechanism is to reduce the price.

Although the Olympic Committee stubbornly refuses to lower the prices of the tickets, at least the hotel owners in and around Athens have a little more economic "savvy".

The greedy hotel owners, who had attempted to "milk the Olympic tourists dry" by putting up their prices (by up to four time the normal amount for this time of year); have realised they will be left with empty rooms, unless they curtail their greed.

It is reported that the "bargain" rates on offer now include rooms in the Holiday Inn at £800 per night, down from a whopping £1260 per night.

I have to say that the greed displayed by the hotel owners, and others connected with the Olympics, is truly mind numbing. I have little sympathy for them if they take a loss on this event; Olympic tourists are not mindless cattle, that can be milked for every last Pound or Dollar.

My advice, to any of you who are thinking of travelling to Athens for the Olympic Games, is to "play hard ball" with the hotel owners and airlines.

Whatever price they quote you, ask for another 20% off at least; and remind them that there are 5 million unsold tickets for the Games.

Use the "Last Minute" advert on the menu bar of this page as a starting point for pricing your trip.

Brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Saturday, July 24, 2004


One of the more imaginative security features of the forthcoming Olympic Games, being held in Athens, is the proposed use of a Zeppelin to monitor the action on the ground.

Unfortunately Zeppelins, having mastered the art of not spontaneously exploding, still have one major draw back. They do not operate very well in high winds.

It seems that the ancient Greek gods were not on the side of the Zeppelin, costing $1.8M to rent for the period of the Olympics, this week; as high winds have prevented it from flying for the third day running.

However, there was some better news regarding water based security measures. The Greek authorities have taken delivery of 10 armed patrol boats.

These will be used to protect the coastline and the cruise ships, which will be housing some 10000 Olympic guests, which will be moored in the port of Piraeus during the course of the Games.

Brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Friday, July 23, 2004

Medals Galore

The medals to be awarded at the forthcoming Olympic Games, which are being held in Athens, are currently being minted at a factory in Aspropyrgos a suburb of Athens.

There will be 3000 medals awarded during the Games, using:

  • 13 kilos of gold, producing 986 gold medals

  • 1000 kilos of silver, producing 986 silver medals

  • 1000 kilos of bronze, producing 1150 bronze medals

Brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Thursday, July 22, 2004

A Bridge Too Far

Contrary to the other Olympic construction projects that are behind schedule in Greece, the Rion-Antirion suspension bridge will be officially opened on August 12.

This is one day before the opening ceremony of the Olympics 2004, being held in Athens; and significantly ahead of the original scheduled opening ceremony for the bridge, which had been set for November 2004.

The Olympic flame will be carried across the bridge on the 8th of August by the Greek football team, winners of Euro 2004.

The bridge is almost 1.4 miles long, and is one of the longest of its kind in the world.

Brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Greece Puts It's Foot Down

Earlier reports indicated that armed guards from the USA, Israel and a number of other countries would protect athletes attending the Olympic Games in Athens.

However, the Greek authorities have reportedly insisted that this will not be allowed. The Greek constitution forbids foreigners bearing arms in Greece.

It seems to be a "Colombian standoff".

Brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Cheerful News

Here is a snippet of news to cheer everyone up.

It is reported that a mobile chemical detection laboratory will be on standby in Bratislava, during the forthcoming Olympics being held in Athens.

In the event of a chemical attack by terrorists, the unit will be flown into Athens within 12 hours.

It is reported to be able to detect chemical and radiation hazards.

Given the humidity, high temperatures and high level of car pollution in Athens during the summer; it may have its work cut out trying to detect terrorist contamination.

In other news, it is reported (how???) that Greek journalists have been on strike for most of last week.

Brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Monday, July 19, 2004

A President to Brave The Olympics

Earlier doubts about whether the President of the United States would venture out of the USA, and attend the forthcoming Olympics in Athens have been dispelled.

It is reported that President Bush, and family members will be attending the Olympics.

Unfortunately it is not the current President, but his father; in the US former Presidents retain their title.

However, "W's" daughters will also be attending.

Is this a vote of confidence in the security arrangement for the Olympics 2004?

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Almost There

It is reported that components of the security system that is meant to protect the Olympic Games 2004, which are being held in Athens, are almost ready to be delivered.

The original delivery date had been scheduled for the end of May. However, delays in the construction of the Olympic stadium; and other unspecified "issues" have been cited as the main factors in the late delivery of these components.

It is reported that the Greek authorities have held back the final payment of 140M Euros to the supplier, Science Applications International Corps, until the components are installed.

These components are necessary for the effective functioning of the cameras, and communication systems, protecting the Games.

Without them, the security forces are in effect deaf and blind.

Saturday, July 17, 2004


It seems that much of the construction work, in preparing Athens for the forthcoming Olympic Games, is showing signs of being finished on time.


However, one area of Athens is taking its preparations close to the wire.


It is reported that in Maroussi (a suburb of Athens), there is much left to be done; as its streets are dug up, and replaced with cobbles. The centre of the town still, according to reports, resembles a construction site.


The rationale for this face change comes from the local council, who wish to "pedestrianise" the centre.


The trouble is, apart from the work being behind schedule, it seems that no one bothered to ask the 70000 local inhabitants what they thought of the idea. 

The nickname of the area was paradise, residents are now mourning "paradise lost".


Friday, July 16, 2004

Doing It Large

The organisers of the Olympics 2004, which are being held in Athens in less than a month, are taking the security threat seriously.


It is reported that NATO's entire Mediterranean naval fleet will be assigned to protect the Olympics.


The NATO fleet will work alongside the Greek navy, to keep an eye on the Greek coastline and sealanes during the Games.


More than 12 frigates, destroyers and other assorted vessels will be deployed.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Dog Day Afternoon

It seems that the Olympics 2004, which are being held in Athens, may not be universally popular.

It is reported that 15000 stray dogs may be poisoned, before the start of the Olympic Games on the 13th of August.

The reason for this mass poisoning is one of aesthetics. It appears that the Greek authorities don't want visitors to see stray dogs befouling the immaculate city of Athens.

The rationale, according to reports, is that the authorities wish to portray Greece as a civilised place.

In my view, a measure of a society's civilisation is how that society treats its fellow living creatures. Poisoning them en masse, does not seem to me to be terribly civilised.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Power Down

Athens, which will host the Olympics 2004 in August, suffered an enormous power blackout yesterday.

Needless to say it caused chaos as far as the eye could see.

Although the power came back on in Athens about 20 minutes after it went down, other parts of Greece were blacked out for 4 hours. The minister for transport experienced the blackout first hand, as he was testing the new rail link between the airport and Athens.

The main theory is that excess demand caused the outage.

The question is, will the system cope with the demand during the Olympic Games?

Monday, July 12, 2004


In a splendidly absurd example of megalomania, the Olympic organisers have issued a decree that prohibits groups of people attending the forthcoming Olympic Games in Athens if they wear T shirts and other clothing bearing the logos of companies or organisations that are not sponsoring the event.

The theory is that they want to keep the Games clear of advertising.

Umm...a few points here guys (addressed to the Olympic organisers), just to clarify my understanding of the rules:

1 What constitutes a group? 20 people sitting together, or 20 people sitting apart?

2 Why can people wearing the logos of the sponsors attend the Games en masse? This constitutes advertising does it not?

3 What gives you the right to dictate to people what they will wear?

4 Define non sponsor; eg does the wearing of a T shirt with an NGO logo constitute a breach of the rules?

5 There are 3 million unsold tickets for the Games, does this restriction help the sales of tickets?

The Games organisers claim to be protecting the Games from commercialisation. I suspect that the reality is that one or more of the official sponsors, fearful of a poor turnout for these Games, have "strongarmed" the organisers and forced them into issuing this absurd ruling.

My advice to people attending the Games is to go along wearing identical T shirts, hats, bags anything you can find that does not have an official sponsor logo; to show how absurd the ruling is.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Banquo's Ghost

Oh dear, some people refuse to move on.

It is reported that Ben Johnson, the sprinter who was kicked out of the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, claims that everybody was on drugs at those Olympics.

He blames his country, Canada, for not supporting him. In his view everyone else was "doing it", and their countries knew full well what was going on.

Whether the allegation is true or not, those Games were 16 years ago; it is time to move on and get on with your life Ben.

However, it may now be time for the International Olympic Committee to consider mandatory drug testing for all the athletes competing in the Olympic Games. The Games will only survive if their reputation is beyond reproach. Accusations such as this, do much harm to the reputation of the Games and the athletes competing.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Echoes of The Past

The final countdown towards the Olympics 2004, being held in Athens, is underway.

As the final push for the completion of construction commences, reminders of the past are being unearthed on a daily basis.

Athens is an ancient imperial city, and previously undiscovered archaeological treasures are being unearthed by the construction of the new stadiums.

The treasure troves of tombs, pots and "knicknacks" being discovered are being put on display in open air museums. Those finds which cannot be moved to indoor museums are left in situ, and are protected by glass, they can be freely viewed by anyone who is in the vicinity.

I fully endorse this approach. This is a splendid way to improve and enhance the viewing experience for the general public. The more traditional museums of the past have created an atmosphere of lifelessness and stuffiness, that has left most visitors in a state of catatonic boredom.

Friday, July 9, 2004

The Worst Kept Secret In Olympic History

The secret about what will happen at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games which are being held in Athens has, to put it mildly, leaked almost everywhere.

In case you have not picked it up, the opening ceremony will be water based. The floor of the Olympic stadium will be flooded during the opening ceremony, on the 13th of August.

In addition to the water featrure, the Olympic flame will be suspended in a cauldron above the stadium.

As with the all previous opening ceremonies, this one will be the most expensive ever; note, expensive does not necessarily mean good.

In other news, the Greek President visited the Greek Prime Minister to point out that the Olympics start in a little over a month. No kidding!

Both parties were keen to assure the world that everything is on schedule.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Fawlty Towers

In the true Olympic spirit, the hotel workers of Greece staged a 24 hour strike yesterday.

That should help bookings!

Their grievance is simple, more visitors for the Olympic Games in Athens means more work; therefore they want more money. Admirable logic, unfortunately there are 3 million unsold tickets and hotels are standing empty. Maybe a strike is not the best means of encouraging bookings?

In a splendidly irrelevant gesture, the Union of Greek Archaeologists went on strike as well yesterday. They want money as well from the Olympics.

Today, it is the turn of the bus drivers and other transport workers to try to grab a slice of the pie. There is even a rumour that the air traffic controllers will strike.

It seems that the Olympics this year are being viewed by many as a humungous cash cow. Unfortunately, there is every danger that it may in fact be a still born calf.

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Peace and Goodwill? Not If You Live In Cyprus

The Olympic flame, symbol of the Olympic Games, has had to suffer the indignity of being diverted on its route to Athens.

It is reported that the ongoing dispute between the Turks and the Greeks over Cyprus, divided since 1974, has caused this diversion.

The flame was to have passed into both sides of the island. However, the Turkish side seems to have been a "tad" difficult with allowing this to happen. Therefore, to save time and energy in further negotiations, the flame's route has had to be changed.

Nice work guys! How very mature.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Road Block

It is reported that the Road to Athens, a race to celebrate the forthcoming Olympic games being held in Athens, has been cancelled.

The Road To Athens, which claimed rather pompously to be capable of spreading a universal message of "Peace, Love and Friendship" etc, was to have taken place across 6 countries and over 50 cities.

It would have involved 21 Arab athletes, the symbolism of this event in light of the current world situation is therefore clear.

However, money talks these days; the withdrawal of a key sponsor sunk the race without trace.

Monday, July 5, 2004

A Pyrrhic Victory

Well done to Greece on winning Euro 2004 yesterday.

There were parties in the streets in Greece and London last night, as Greek fans rightly celebrated a surprise victory for the underdog.

However, once the hangovers have subsided minds may need to be concentrated on the Olympics 2004 which are being held in Athens this August.

It seems that ticket sales are not going that well, with some 3 million tickets out of 5 million yet to be sold.

Although half of the deluxe hotels have been reserved for the "usual suspects" (ie those dignitaries and their entourage who always go to Olympic "shindigs"), it is reported that other hotels are not filling up as hoped for.

Private home owners, who signed up to rent their homes out during the Olympic Games, are also reported to be having trouble finding customers. It seems that out of 20000 homes available for rent, only 900 have been booked.

I have said it before, and will say it again, when something doesn't sell cut the selling price.

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Too Little, Too Late

It seems that the delays in the construction of the venues for the Olympics 2004, which are being held in Athens, are causing concern in the security community.

With construction still not completed, there has not been a chance to test security systems and back up plans; which are meant to deter, and contain, any possible terrorist attack.

The command centre, which co-ordinates information flow from the surveillance cameras dotted around Athens, will not be up and running until the middle of July. Hence, those operating it will not have had a decent period to train in using it.

Other sites have yet to have surveillance cameras installed, and have not been tested to see how they would handle events (both expected and unexpected).

To put this into context, although the cost of the security is $1.2BN (far higher than any Olympic Games held before) security systems in previous Olympics were up and running one year beforehand.

The phrase "accident waiting to happen" springs to mind.

Saturday, July 3, 2004

Utter Filth

Oops, it seems that Athens was not the first choice of everyone for hosting the Olympics 2004.

It is reported that Dick Pound, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), voted to award the 2004 Olympics to Rome. It seems that he felt that the level of pollution in Athens would harm the health of the competitors.

By all accounts hundreds of people die in Athens each summer, from the pollution.

The IOC are reported to be relying on good winds this summer, to blow the pollution out to sea.

Sounds like a plan to me!

Friday, July 2, 2004

Protect and Survive

The security clampdown in Athens, in preparation for the Olympics 2004, has begun.

Troops and police are now reported to be being deployed around Athens. The Minister of Public Order, George Voulgarakis, is reported to have said that the initial deployment will consist of around 11000 troops and police.

The opening deployment will protect transport links and hubs. I understand that, owing to the fact that construction work is behind schedule, the Olympic venues themselves will not be sealed until August.

Doesn't that rather negate the effectiveness of the security?

The full security deployment is estimated to be around 70000 troops, police and coast guards.

To view a slide show of the security preparations please visit the Security Slide Show.

Please note this, together with other photos and resources, can also be accessed via the menu to the right.

Thursday, July 1, 2004

The Turtle and The Hare

It seems that the Olympics 2004, which are being held in Athens this August, have caused problems for one of the earth's less annoying creatures; the humble turtle.

The humungous costs of the Olympics have caused the Greek authorities to cut back on other, "non essential work". One victim of the cutbacks has been the turtle nesting beaches.

It is reported that the staff at the National Marine Park, on the island of Zakynthos, fed up with not being paid for 9 months stopped work in May.

In addition to hosting the Olympics, Greece's other claim to fame is the fact that it also hosts the largest nesting population of Mediterranean loggerhead turtles. However, the poor creature is somewhat less speedy and sexy than those competing at the Olympics; hence the Greek authorities assumed that people would not care about the cuts.

Unfortunately for the turtle, its hatching cycle coincides with the tourist season and this year's Olympic Games.

Needless to say, once the Greek government indicated that it couldn't "give a toss" about the turtle; the local population started ensuring that they could make as much money as possible from the tourist. They have, for example, erecting unauthorised buildings and are holding speed boat races; not very nice for the poor old turtle!

In my view the Olympics are only around for a few weeks for people to "enjoy", the turtles should be (if the Greek government did it's job) around for ever for people to enjoy.

Get your priorities right!