The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Race For 2012 Neck and Neck

The International Olympic Committee chairman, Jacques Rogge, has said that competition to stage the 2012 Games is the closest in Olympic history.

The shortlist consists of London, Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow and the successful winner will be announced in Singapore on 6 July.

He said:

"Five of the greatest cities in the world are bidding. It's probably the toughest race in history..I don't want to speculate on front-runners, all are good bids."

IOC inspectors have visited all five candidates this year, with Paris and London widely regarded as the leading contenders.

Both cities have staged the Games twice before - Paris in 1900 and 1924, and London in 1908 and 1948.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Security For The 2008 Games

China's security organisations will seek help from their foreign counterparts, including those from the United States and Britain, to ensure an incident free Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Qiang Wei, head of the co-ordination team organising the Olympic security arrangements, has reportedly said that the scheme involves participation of almost all similar organisations around the city.

This includes public security, national security and the armed police.

Beijing would also work closely with security organs of Germany, France and Russia; to enhance its defence against riots or terrorist attacks, Qiang said.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Olympics Pest Barred

A former priest, who disrupted the 2004 Olympics, has been banned from going anywhere near this year's London Marathon.

Neil Horan, who jumped out in front of the lead runner in the men's marathon in Athens, was served with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)to ensure he does not disrupt the London event on 17 April.

Horan was defrocked in January, as a result of his stunts, which have led to him ending up in prison.

He was dressed in a brown kilt, green waistcoat and green tam-o'-shanter, as he represented himself yesterday at Camberwell Magistrates' Court.

He said:

"I have taken the Bible to the world stage on two great sporting events. I won’t need to do it a third time because the gospel requires me to do it just twice..I am quite happy to declare that my public mission is over in that sense."

Outside court he said:

"I think these great events were actually picked for me by the hand of God. I am delighted that I was able to use them to spread my message."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Mayor Ken Supports Paris

In a bizarre display of openness, Ken Livingstone the Mayor of London said that Paris was leading the race of the five cities to host the 2012 Olympics.


"We've closed the gap on Paris, but the truth is, Paris is still ahead...No city is close to a majority on the first ballot..".

However, Livingstone insisted the decision on which city will host the Games, to be made by the International Olympic Committee 117 members in Singapore on July 6 was "still up for grabs".

Livingstone tried to predict the voting intentions of the IOC:

"At most Paris has got about 30 votes. We have 25 votes and none of the other cities has more than 20, and we've got about 30 to 40 delegates yet to express an opinion...If in the end it is Paris and London, the people who voted for Moscow, New York and Madrid will say what is my second vote."

He added:

"The thing is these people are so skilled at not indicating which they favour and so when they are in any city, everyone thinks this is going really well because they are really good at avoiding bad press coverage. They should give us all a lesson."

Monday, March 21, 2005

West Side Bids Close Today

Bids for the redevelopment of the West Side railyards, New York, close today.

Redevelopment will be critical in New York's plans to host the 2012 Olympics, and a home for Jets football.

The Jets have reportedly said that they will increase their $100m offer for the right to build a 75,000-seat stadium.

Cablevision, which owns the Garden, the Knicks and the Rangers views the stadium as competition; they have offered $600M, in order for the construction of apartment houses and parks on a platform over the yard.

A third bidder, TransGas Energy Systems, is preparing an offer of $800M.

Other bidders are reportedly scared of upsetting Mayor Bloomberg, by bidding to build what everybody wants; namely apartments, rather than an Olympic stadium.

Mayor Bloomberg has made the stadium the epicentre of New York's bid for the 2012 Olympics.

It is possible that once the details of the bids are made public, there may be a further round of bidding.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Greece's Olympic Size Deficit

The Greek government has blamed the unchecked spending on the 2004 Olympics as being the reason for Greece's growing budget deficit.

Seemingly, because of accounting errors and "omissions", this deficit is likely to grow.

The latest figures from the EU show the deficit at 6.1% of gross domestic product, more than double the cap allowed by the EU.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told the Parliament:

"The burdens we face from the past are very large..".

The cost of the 2004 Olympics is now being estimated at being $12BN. The Greek government has until the end of the month to explain to the EU how it will lower the deficit.

In a statement on the Finance Ministry website, the blame is pointed directly at PASOK, the socialist government that ruled Greece in the lead-up to the Olympics.

Additionally, there is the nagging question of what to do with the now redundant white elephants that made up the Olympic infrastructure. These are costing around $100M per annum just to maintain.

In respect of the breaching of the EU deficit rules, I would imagine that some form of political "fudge" will be made. The EU is notorious for allowing its members to break the rules, this will be no exception.

After all, if the then Greek government had been honest about the costs it would never have been allowed to join the Euro.

The EU will never admit to the fact that it had been conned.

With regard to the $12Bn cost, this is surely proof positive that the Olympics as a whole need to be totally reformed and scaled down.

No one in their right mind should even think of hosting them, if they are going to cost this much.

The trouble is that politicians' egos overrule common sense.

Maybe it is now time to abandon the Games, and for countries to spend their money on something more productive instead.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Lausanne Stop Over

The IOC's Evaluation Commission for 2012 Olympics is now in Lausanne, for a four day stop over, having finished their five city evaluation tour.

During the stop over they will draft their final report about their visits.

As with all reports produced by bureaucracies, this will take weeks of gestation before it is finalised.

It will then need to be translated, printed and uploaded onto the IOC web site on June 6.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Moscow's Big Push

Moscow reportedly made a big push on Wednesday, in their bid to host the 2012 Olympics; there was even a sales pitch from President Vladimir Putin, and a caviar and vodka reception for IOC commission at the Kremlin.

Putin said to the delegates:

"I'm sure you will agree with me that our country is one of the greatest athletic powers in the world,".

He spoke about the boycott in 1980, after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan:

"Thank God that time has passed...The world has changed. Russia itself has changed, but one thing has not changed, and that is the interest of the Russian people and their love of sports."

Moscow is the last leg of the journey for the evaluators. The full International Olympic Committee will select the host city on July 6 in Singapore.

During the reception in the Kremlin palace chamber, the inspectors were treated to; caviar, sturgeon, quail breasts and crab cakes.

Moscow proposes holding all events within 16 miles of the city centre, under a bid plan focusing on the "Olympic River" concept. Many venues and the Olympic village will be located alongside or near the Moscow River, with boats providing transportation.

The cost is estimated to be around $10BN, most of which would come from private sources.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Cheese Olympics

Every two years, hundreds of cheeses are sent in from across the USA to Milwaukee for the Championship Cheese Contest.

Fourteen judges will sniff, taste and poke the cheeses to determine the winner of the title U.S. champion of cheese today.

John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, says:

"It's kind of like the Olympics where you start out with a 10 and your flaws are downgraded,".

There are 50 criteria on which the cheeses are judged including; too fruity, too flat, too curdy, too gassy, colour, rind, dents, texture and body.

The judges chew the cheese, allow it to cover their tongue for a few seconds, spit it out and then smell the aroma.

Seven new classes of cheese have been added including; Havarti, Quesos Frescos and Pepper Flavored Cheese.

However, cheese making is a random biological process and the cheese makers are not allowed to cut or taste the cheese they send to the contest. Therefore all bets are still open as to who will win this year.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Moscow Optimistic

It is reported that the Moscow Olympics bid committee are optimistic that they will get to host the 2012 Games, following a presentation to the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission.

So far, every city that has hosted the commission has expressed optimism that they would win.

Valery Shantsev, a deputy Moscow mayor and the head of the city's Olympic bid committee, told reporters:

"I believe Moscow has the best chances among all...We had a positive dialogue in the morning. The IOC panel members expressed lively interest in our presentations..".

He added:

"If we start a battle, we always do everything to clinch the win. That's the Russian people's national feature..We have successfully hosted more than 100 world and European championships and the World Cup events here since 1980. Nobody in the world has similar experience."

The IOC panel, is scheduled for a press conference Thursday, on Monday viewed Moscow's presentations and also studied the transportation and environmental aspects of the Moscow bid.

Moscow Games would use the city's Moskva river as a multifunctional centerpiece, serving both as a visual backdrop for international television as well as the transportation artery for athletes, tourists and Olympic Games staff to avoid traffic jams.

It seems that more than 210 new hotels will be opened in Moscow by 2012, these will add 100000 extra rooms.

The Games have got the full backing from the entire country's political spectrum, a rare feat!

The decision on the host city of 2012 Olympics will be taken after the final vote on July 6 in Singapore.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Moscow Inspection Underway

The IOC inspection commission for the 2012 Olympics has begun its inspection tour of Moscow.

It is reported that Moscow is feeling very confident about its chances of hosting the 2012 Games. Viacheslav Fetisov, Russia's sports minister, is quoted as saying:

"We have great, great facilities. We have hosted more than 150 world championships in 15 years...The attitude of the Moscovites towards the Olympic Games and other sporting events is high. We have 500 Olympic champions living here..I don’t know why we are the underdog from the beginning.".

The commission will be briefed by Moscow on seven of the 17 bid book topics, today, with Tuesday designated for venue visits.

The commission leaves Moscow in Thursday.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


France told the IOC on Friday that it has the expertise to ensure the safety of athletes and spectators if the 2012 Olympics come to Paris.

Interior Minister, Dominique de Villepin, told International Olympic Committee inspectors that 41,000 police officers, armed police and soldiers, as well as 5,700 fire and rescue workers would provide security.


"France has the means and the experience so that everyone, spectators and athletes, can take part in this festival in total safety,".

President Jacques Chirac, who hosted the IOC for dinner at the Elysee Palace, said the French are ready to host the games.


"Tonight, it is the whole of France who receives you," Chirac said. "A whole nation which is putting its passion for sport, its experience of big sporting events and its enthusiasm into this candidature."

Today, the last day in Paris, the IOC will take the metro to the Bercy arena in southeast Paris.

The street protests continue, another protest is scheduled by environmentalists opposed to plans to build a 15,000-seat Olympic arena for judo and badminton in the Bois de Boulogne in western Paris.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

French Shoot Themselves in The Foot

It is reported that France is at a standstill today, as workers have taken to the streets in an effort to embarrass Paris's bid to stage the 2012 Olympics.

Postal services have been stopped, schools closed and the transport network shut down; as the French try to stop plans to end the maximum 35 hour week, how nice to live in Lah Lah Land!

The strikes coincide with the visit by the inspectors from the International Olympic Committee, who are there this week examining its bid to stage the games in seven years' time.

Trade unionists set off flares and waved banners in the Place d'Italie, and along the city's grand boulevards, a nice picture for the IOC to take home with them.

Public transport faced stoppages in 55 towns and cities, and there was severe disruption on the Paris Metro and RER.

The morning headlines were "France paralysed".

The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, admits that he is concerned.

The French are not that happy to host the Games, an article in Le Monde yesterday called for the games not to be staged in the capital; dismissing them as a money-making spectacle riddled by drugs.

I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Street Riots in Paris

The chances of Paris hosting the 2012 Olympics suffered a sever blow yesterday, as street riots erupted in the French capital.

Scuffles and tear gas spread throughout the city centre, as inspectors from the International Olympic Committee arrived.

In scenes reminiscent of the 1960's, tens of thousands of students clashed with the police and smashed shop windows.

The punch up also marred a march by an estimated 40,000 secondary school pupils through central Paris, who were trying to protest against the government's education reforms.

The Olympic officials avoided the violence and were quickly shuttled to the Grand Hotel Intercontinental, where they spent the night ahead of their four-day inspection.

Bertrand Delanoƫ, the city's mayor, said:

"Social democracy cannot be put on hold for seven years just because of the 2012 Olympics..We are a democratic country, where debate is freely expressed."

The student protest is the start of a week of nationwide industrial action, set to culminate in the total shutdown of public transport tomorrow, the day the inspectors will be touring the city's venues and infrastructure.

Despite the brave words of the mayor, it is likely that the protests will kill Paris's bid.

Tomorrow hundreds of thousands of public sector workers will vent their anger on issues ranging from the reform of the 35 hour working week, to employment policies and wages.

How can the IOC be confident that there will not be similar disruptions in 2012?

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Paris Under The Spotlight

The IOC evaluation commission begin their inspection visit to Paris, the French capital, tomorrow.

Paris is the front runner in the five city race to win the 2012 Olympics.

Madrid, London and New York have already been visited by the commission and, after their four-day investigation into Paris, the commission will fly to Moscow.

Unfortunately for Paris, 24 hours after the commission begins its work, a national strike called to protest unemployment and French government plans to tamper with the 35-hour working week begins.

A cynic might suggest that the timing of the strike was deliberate!

However, the French unions say they are backing the bid and have no plans to disrupt the commission; but they would say that, wouldn't they?

That being said, a deal has even been reached with the staff of the Grand Hotel where the commission is staying not to strike.

The commission contains seven IOC members and one ex-member. Their private comments to colleagues after the five-city tour is completed, are likely to carry as much, if not more, weight as the official report.

Jean-Paul Huchon, president of the Ile de France regional council and a member of the Paris bid, told the French daily sports newspaper L'Equipe on Saturday that one IOC member told him during the Athens Games that he would never vote for Paris.

"One of your Olympic Committee friends voted against me,".

A French monthly magazine, asked five clairvoyants for their insight into the battle for 2012 and if Paris would win.

Only one 'saw' a Paris victory, one was uncertain, and three pictured a Paris defeat announced the magazine in it's February issue.

July 6 is the date that the decision will be announced.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Olympic Ambassador Appointed

Lord Sebastian Coe has selected Ivan Corea, of Redbridge, to be Olympic Ambassador. He has been selected for the honour, because of his vocal support for London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

In his new role, Mr Corea, will be using his prominence in the Redbridge community to encourage people to Back the Bid.

He has garnered support via a variety of channels, including; the UK Autism Awareness Campaign, which he established in Redbridge, and Stratford's Dream Harvest Group, of which he is managing director.

Mr Corea reportedly said:

"I'm delighted to accept this appointment. The Dream Harvest Group has been hugely involved in backing the bid right from the very start..We will continue to support the London 2012 bid, particularly in reaching out to minority ethnic communities."


"We're very excited about the bid; London is a great city, a city of many cultures, languages and communities. The Olympic Games will enhance this kaleidoscope of peoples so let us celebrate this diversity."

Friday, March 4, 2005

New York's Dilemma

A recent poll of New Yorkers, showed that they overwhelmingly support the city's efforts to host the 2012 Olympics. However, the majority oppose building the $1.7BN stadium necessary to lure the Summer Games.

The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, asked if they supported the construction of a new stadium; 56% of New Yorkers said no.

In Manhattan, where the stadium would rise above the Hudson River, 64% opposed the construction while 27% supported it.

When asked about hosting the Summer Games, 63% said yes and just 30% said no.

The results are of course illogical, without the stadium New York does not get to host the Games.

It seems to be a case of having your cake, and eating it.

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Japan To Terminate Aid

It is reported that Japan plans to terminate its main aid to China by 2008, when Beijing is to host the Olympic Games.

This is in light of China's growing economic and military power.

Tokyo will gradually reduce the amount of low-interest yen loans, which account for some 90 percent of Japanese aid to China; pahsing them out completely by the 2008 Olympics.

Since 1980, Japan's yen loans to China have exceeded $29BN for projects including; the building of highways, airports, sewage systems and other infrastructure.

Japan has now concluded that Beijing will no longer need the cheap loans, they will divert resources to Africa.

Grants and technical assistance accounted for some 10 percent of Japan's total aid to China in the year to March 2004.

Calls for ending Japanese aid to China have increased, as their rleations become more strained.

China has been angered by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's pilgrimages to a Tokyo shrine that honors Japan's World War II dead, including those convicted for war crimes committed during Japan's occupation of China.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Lest We Forget

In case anyone has forgotten about the "dynamic duo" of Greek sprinting, Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, it is reported that the Greek sports authorities have postponed by two weeks the judgement on them for missing doping tests.

They were expected to learn their fate by the end of February, but late evidence from them has pushed the date back.

A decision is now expected by around mid-March.

The athletes, who withdrew from the Athens Olympics days before they were scheduled to race in front of a home crowd, have been suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for missing the three tests, including the one scheduled for Athens.

The IAAF said the sprinters had failed to provide samples for tests in Tel Aviv, Chicago and Athens and ordered SEGAS to hold a disciplinary inquiry.

The athletes also face a criminal hearing in Greece over the missed drugs tests and have been charged with faking a motorcycle accident on the day of the Athens test, which led to them spending four days in hospital.

It seems that there seem to have been some new documents, submitted by the (athletes) lawyers, which are now being evaluated.

It was not clear what this new evidence is.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Beijing Looks for Ideas

It is reported that the Beijing Olympic organisers are seeking ideas to inspire a team designing the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Games.

The Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games will collect ideas up until July 31, committee officials told a press conference.

They are looking for ideas that could turn the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing games, which are to emphasize technology, the environment and peace, into "wonders."


"The ocean-themed opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the one inspired by the ancient Greek mythology of the 2004 Athens Games struck high marks around the globe, and the world is anxiously waiting to see what Beijing, a center of ancient oriental civilization, will present during the 2008 Games,".

The ceremonies proposed "should help to spread the Olympic spirit, create a jubilant atmosphere for the games and a homecoming feeling for all the participants."

"The proposals should visualize the concepts of 'Green Olympics,' 'High-Tech Olympics' and 'People's Olympics,' and interpret the rich connotations of 'harmony' and 'peace' that the idea of 'People's Olympics' tries to convey to the whole world."

Any individual or institution can submit a proposal, but non-Chinese applicants must form "consortiums" with Chinese citizens or organizations, the committee said.

It said all applicants must sign legal documents for transfer of intellectual property rights, and there will be no payment given to those whose ideas are chosen.