Monday, February 28, 2005
Students of the Arabic Islamic Institute in Tokyo and Arabic language learners took part in calligraphy, typing, speech and poem-reading competitions at the school.
The school, affiliated with Saudi Arabian Embassy, held the annual event for the second time to strengthen cultural exchanges between Saudi Arabia and Japan. Saudi Arabian Ambassador Faisal Hassan Trad was present at the event.
The school, established in 1982, currently has about 140 students. It has sent 26 volunteers to the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, in which about 200 athletes from 11 countries in the Middle East and North Africa are participating. They will work as interpreters and assist the athletes.
The school also offers classes in Arabic calligraphy, in which bamboo sticks are used, in addition to its day and evening language courses.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
The guest list included a number of Holywood stars including; Matt Damon, Whoopi Goldberg and Meryl Streep.
The meal's highlight was the turkey, with Bloomberg's mother's cornbread stuffing; served with personalised cookies, instead of place cards, and wine from the vineyards of New York State.
Other guests included Henry Kissinger and Barbara Walters. Paul Simon sang "The Boxer", before a firework display over the entrance to Central Park.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Bush's videotaped greeting to the Evaluation Commission was sent as he was traveling in Europe. It was, by all accounts, "very warm, very friendly and very well received".
The IOC was then entertained by; Meryl Streep, Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg and heard Wynton Marsalis play at a Jazz at Lincoln Center performance. There was then a lavish fireworks display.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Governor Pataki will attend a reception honoring the athletes and members of the 1980 Olympic organising committee this evening at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. He'll also attend the celebration afterward.
The US hockey team beat the Russians and won gold at the 1980 games. Mike Eruzione and other members of the gold-medal winning hockey team will attend the ice show and celebration this evening.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
The delegates were shown a video, featuring New Yorkers from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds; the message being that everyone, from anywhere in the world, would feel at home in New York.
New York is festooned with Olympic paraphernalia; billboards, bus shelters and street poles are decorated along with subway cars buses and taxis.
Paris still remains the favourite to host the 2012 Olympics, according to United Kingdom bookies; however, London increased its chances of winning after the publicity surrounding the visit of IOC officials helped lift public support.
Ladbrokes, the world's largest bookmaker, cut its odds on London hosting the 2012 Games to 2-1 from 3-1.
It lengthened the odds on favorite Paris to 4-9 from 1-4. New York is fourth at 16-1.
Monday, February 21, 2005
The organisers of New York's bid to host the 2012 Olympics are reportedly promising to put on a dazzling show for the inspection team.
They have planned a four day sales campaign, to win the hearts and minds of the 13 member International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission.
The commission flew directly to New York, following their evaluation visit to London. Earlier this month they launched their five city tour by visiting Madrid.
An advertising blitz, scattered sports exhibitions and a jazz concert honouring the IOC visit are part of the sales pitch.
There has been significant political in-fighting, over plans to build a new stadium to host opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics competition.
Opponents of the stadium plan say the city should wait until the IOC makes its decision on the 2012 Games in July.
There are also concerns over the environmental impact of the 17 million gallon oil spill, underground, in the area next to the planned Olympic Village.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Lord Coe, the former Olympic champion, is heading London's bid team. His task is to convince the inspectors London has the desire, and the ability, to host the Games.
The evaluation team, which started in Madrid, will next travel to New York, then Paris before finishing in Moscow in mid-March. The IOC will announce the winning city in Singapore on July 6.
London has spent much of its campaign lagging behind the recognised front runner Paris, which already has a stadium.
London's very obvious Achilles heal is its transport system, described rather politely as "often obsolete"; additionally, Londoners really do not want the Games in the city.
Coe argues that London's transport problems have been dealt with.
Tell that to the hapless commuters who have to suffer the delays, and overcrowding every day!
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
The IOC delegation arriving in London, to judge London's worthiness to host the 2012 Olympic Games, will be asking what she meant when she told her audience:
"We are going to win the bid, what does Paris know about culture?"
Mrs Blair also managed to annoy New Zealand diners by mistaking the country for Australia.
The rules about "entertaining" IOC delegates are now very strict, since the money-for-cash scandal provoked by 2002 Winter Games hosts Salt Lake City. The hosts can only provide one "social" event during its visit.
In London the "event" will be dinner with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace. There was therefore further confusion, when it was reported that Downing Street would be putting on a "reception". The IOC contacted London for clarification.
In IOC terminology "reception" means food will be served, and following discussions between Lausanne and London the Downing Street event has been billed as a "working meeting".
No food will be provided when the IOC members meet Tony and Cherie Blair, culture secretary Tessa Jowell and London mayor Ken Livingstone.
How very dull!
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Carriages will take them to Bloomberg's Upper East Side townhouse for dinner and drinks. The guest list will contain some of New York's finest including Gov. George Pataki and Donald Trump.
The group will then go to the Lincoln Center, where they will enjoy a gala musical evening.
The cost of this night on the town is not known, but will be paid for by the New York organising committee.
The IOC anti bribe rules allow one night "on the town".
Other events are less fun, they include; briefings and question-and-answer sessions with various authorities about emergency health care, marketing, security, transportation, the Olympic Village and other elements of the city's bid.
There will also be tours of the prospective venues, including; Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden and the rail yards of far west Manhattan where the Olympic stadium would be built.
Saturday, February 12, 2005
In a statement Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, said:
"Bidding cities whose drug laws are not in compliance with the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency will be changing their laws in order to comply with them."
Seemingly, in the view of the IOC, French drug rules are too strict. France has stringent anti-doping laws, which allow the police access to any sports event to carry out drugs tests and impose penalties.
The IOC rules state that during the Olympics, the only drug tests on athletes are carried out by IOC-accredited officials and drug cheats are thrown out of the Olympics - if they won medals, they are taken away - but no other punishment is imposed.
Bans are decided later by the federations.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Sports scientists announced the discovery of desoxy-methyl-testosterone (DMT), earlier this month, following an anonymous tip-off.
It seems that this substance was seized by Canadian customs, at the Canada/US border last year.
Rogge acknowledged that:
"There will be more in the future...this is unavoidable because of the bad use of scientific knowledge."
"The gap is closing between us and them...It is closing because we test more, because we test unannounced and because we test out of competition...We have information...and that is what you need to beat this...".
The head of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) doping control laboratory in Montreal Professor Christiane Ayotte said DMT, which aims to artificially boost strength and stamina, was the most sophisticated substance yet discovered by testers.
DMT is the second designer steroid found, following the discovery of THG (tetrahydrogestrinone) in 2003.
Wednesday, February 9, 2005
Oddly enough the International Olympic Committee executive board will visit Turin, on Thursday and Friday, one year before the games begin.
Cabinet Undersecretary Gianni Letta's office said:
"We must guarantee the success of Turin 2006 and everything will be done through a very good and healthy administration, which will be inspired by transparency and by accounting and managing rigour..".
The Turin organising committee has been desperately looking for a solution to the budget shortfall, in the overall budget of $1.5BN, which is due mainly to a lack of support from Italian state-owned companies.
The IOC has repeatedly pressed the Italian government to help. However, as a private foundation, the committee is prevented by state law from receiving government subsidies.
This provides yet another object lesson, if one were ever needed, in proving that no one makes money out of the Olympics; apart from the IOC, certain gold medal winners and certain multi nationals.
Tuesday, February 8, 2005
The winning bid was a record US$153-million, with US$90-million going for the Vancouver Games.
Saturday, February 5, 2005
The only trouble is, the Greek government has not a clue as to what to do with them.
In the rush to build the most expensive and "stunning" venues ever, for the 2004 Olympics, the planners and government of the day forgot to ask themselves the following blindingly obvious question:
"When the party is over, what do we do with these buildings?".
In addition to trying to recoup the cost of the buildings themselves, something that the Greek taxpayer will spend over 10 years paying for, there are the annual maintenance costs of over $100M.
The financial failure of the Greek Olympics should be a lesson to any city, idiotic enough, to want to host these games; namely:
-Build something that can be used after the Games
-Don't allow politicians to become involved
Friday, February 4, 2005
The International Luge Federation has asked for the track to be simplified.
The accidents included:
- Brazil's Renato Mizoguchi injuring his head during a crash
- Lugers from Latvia, Virgin Islands and Romania crashing at the same corner in the last few days
- Raluca Stramaturaru, of Romania, breaking an arm Wednesday
Gaetano Coppi, president of the Italian winter sports federation, does not think that it is the track to blame; quote:
"It's not the track which must be modified ... but the criteria of the (federation) about the technical level of athletes allowed to compete..".
Thursday, February 3, 2005
Today, the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission arrives in Madrid; to conduct its first review of the plans submitted by the five cities, who hope to host the games.
The review process is expect to be completed by March, the final decision will be announced in July of this year in Singapore.
Paris's bid was helped by the fact that the Queen told a visitor to a Buckingham Palace reception, that she expected Paris to win. Then, compounding London's embarrassment, a newspaper claimed that London had "in effect abandoned hope of winning".
Wednesday, February 2, 2005
The cities on their visiting list are; Madrid, Paris, London, Moscow and New York.
Their findings will be published in May. A poor report will scupper a city's chances.
Tuesday, February 1, 2005
Speaking in Montreal, Rogge said:
"We believe the Games must be Canadian Games...There must be a sense of ownership in all of Canada, in all the provinces, for these Games...I know our friends in Vancouver want that, too..." .
Rogge is spending 3 days in Canada, meeting with political and business leaders to build support for the 2010 Games.
The federal government has been asked to put up half the money for the Games, the rest will be tapped from private sources.
Rogge expressed his satisfaction with the progress of the 2010 Olympics. However, he warned that the Games were still only in their "honeymoon phase".
The next stage will be more difficult; when roads are blocked, and holes dug, during the construction of the venues.