The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


It seems that the possible crisis over Italy's tough doping laws may be averted, in time for the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Valentino Castellani, chief of the Turin organising committee, said that he believed a tentative accord had been reached.


"I don't know the details, it's not my business."

The Italian law states that athletes can face criminal sanctions for doping violations.

Quite rightly so!

However, this was too much to stomach for the IOC, who are aware that more than a few athletes take drugs to enhance their performance. They were well aware that this law would mean the unedifying spectacle of police raids in the Olympic Village during the games, February 10-26.

Which of course is very bad for their sponsorship deals!

The International Olympic Committee rules state that athletes face disqualification for any doping offense, but no legal penalties.

Athletes, apparently, are above the law.

Government supervisor Mario Pescante said that he would meet with IOC president, Jacques Rogge, at a European Olympic meeting in Dublin this weekend.


"I will speak with him about doping. We are optimistic."

Pescante had tried to temporarily suspend Italy's laws for the Olympics. However, the Senate rounded on him; quite right!

Rogge said that he expects "intelligent solutions" will be found within "full respect" of the law.

Why should athletes be treated differently to everyone else?

Oh, silly me, it's the money!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Mosque Planned For 2012 Olympics

An enormous mosque, designed to hold 40,000 worshippers, is being proposed to be built next to the Olympic complex in London.

The design, featuring wind turbines and a translucent latticed roof, will be opened in time for the 2012 Games.

The complex is designed to become the "Muslim quarter" for the Games, and will be a hub for Islamic competitors and spectators.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Turin Torch Relay

The Olympic flame will begin its Turin relay, in time for the Winter Olympics (which start on the 10th of February 2006), on the 8th of December.

It will be carried by Venetian gondolas, horses and a Ferrari across Italy.

Italy's Stefano Baldini, the marathon champion at the Athens Olympics, will be the first of 10,000 torchbearers.

Each bearer will carry the flame for about 400 yards.

On its first day in Italy, the torch will pass by St. Peter's Square to receive a blessing from Pope Benedict XVI.

One small neighborhood association in Rome said last week it would block the Olympic torch from its streets, because the relay is sponsored by Coca-Cola.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The £6BN Olympic Tax Bill

David James, a corporate troubleshooter, has warned that mismanagement of the 2012 London Olympic venues could cost the British taxpayer £6BN.

He notes that the lesson from the Millennium Dome fiasco need to be learned.

Not surprisingly James identifies the main culprit of overruns for the Dome, as that of being poor management.

James has produced a set of recommendations, to ensure that the 2012 Olympic Games do not fail financially. They include:
  • Involve Sport England in helping to ensure that local communities can use Olympic venues after the Games

  • Ensure that there is no long-term damage to local community facilities, such as the Hackney Marshes

  • Hire accountants to run the financial control and creation of contracts

  • Ensure that board directors of Olympic bodies have relevant experience — "not just a who's who of the great and the good"

  • Externally vet all sub-contractors hired to work on Olympic venues and ensure that they have a proven track record

  • Abandon the Government's standard procurement preference for the cheapest services, in favour of fitness for purpose

  • Agree standard contracts for all Games sponsors to prevent "freeloading"

  • Contract out the retailing of Olympics-themed merchandise to a professional national retailer

  • Set up and maintain a strictly controlled register of assets for all Olympic venues, detailing purchased and leased items

  • Retain health and safety experts to approve all designs for Games sports venues

  • Do not make advance payments to contractors

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Olympic Fiasco

Ireland's Oireachtas sport committee has described Ireland's involvement in last year's Athens Olympics as a "fiasco".

It is recommending major improvements in how the country prepares for the games.

In a report published today, the committee says a steering group should be appointed to oversee Ireland's preparation for the London Olympics in 2012. They acknowledge that Beijing 2008 is too soon for any changes to make a difference.

The committee is also seeking additional funding for coaches, athletes and a new Institute for Sport.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Korean Olympic Bid

The South Korean city of Busan will bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, and will invite the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) capital Pyongyang to join the bid as co-host.

That at least is the wish of the mayor of Busan, Hur Nam-Sik.

He is quoted as saying:

"I would like to unveil the city's ambition here. It is to win the bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics. In principle I am agreed on co-hosting the 2020 Olympics (and) as mayor of Busan I fully intend to have co-hosting".

He added that is would be a "dream" if Pyongyang and Busan could host the event together.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Olympics Boost Tourism

The British government said that it believes that the 2012 London Olympics could boost Britain's tourist industry by 25%.

Culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, said that she believed that annual tourism revenue could rise from $130BN to $173BN by 2012.

However, that may require some serious work on the infrastructure; most notably the appalling public transport system in the UK.

Not that this will matter too much to the current government, as they will be out of office by 2012 anyway.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Turin Stadium Named

The main sports arena in Turin for the February 2006 Winter Olympics will be named "Grande Torino", after the Turin soccer team that was killed in an air crash in 1949.

Mario Pescante, the supervisor of the games, said:

"I approved the idea of calling it "Grande Torino" with great enthusiasm."

The "Grande Torino" (Great Turin) side of the 1940's were all killed in air crash on the Turin hills in 1949.

Among those who lost their lives was soccer legend Valentino Mazzola, father of another Italy great, Sandro Mazzola.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Beijing Unveils Mascots

Beijing unveiled its Olympic mascots on Friday, 1000 days before the start of the 2008 Olympic Games.

There will be 5 mascots representing the games.

The mascots are cartoon renditions of a panda, fish, Tibetan antelope, swallow and the Olympic flame; each one being the colour of one of the Olympic rings.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said:

"The five friendlies are an incredible little family carefully chosen by Beijing 2008 to represent all of China to carry a message of friendship to the children of the world. China is so lucky to have so many beautiful animals to represent the Olympic spirit."

The mascots are called; Bei Bei, Jing Jing, Huan Huan, Ying Ying and Ni Ni. Collectively this translates as "Beijing welcomes you!"

A clever, and good idea; they are expected to generate considerable sums to offset the costs of the games.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

London Olympic Shambles

As ever, when dealing with all matters Olympic, there is a massive row brewing over land, property and money.

This particular dispute centres on the ownership of land earmarked as the site of London's 2012 Olympic Games.

The London Development Agency (LDA) has issued a compulsory purchase order on the land designated for the site. However, London and Continental Railways (LCR) which owns some of the site says the LDA could "kill off" the development.

The LDA claim that the compulsory purchase order (CPO) has been issued to safeguard the land needed for its Olympic Park, as a result of the breakdown in negotiations between the LDA and LCR.

Needless to say the CPO has severely pissed off LCR, after all we are talking about a £4BN redevelopment scheme (which everyone wants a piece of).

In other news, it seems that the Olympics may face a medieval statutory bar; which prohibits sporting events to take place within a predefined area of Stratford.

Needless to say, if this ancient law is not removed, it will mean that the Olympic stadium etc cannot be built on the land designated for the Olympics.


Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Botched Job?

Last year's Olympics in Athens were memorable for a number of issues:

- The massive overspend

- The frantic last minute rush to complete the buildings on time, using East European labour

It seems, much like Banquo's ghost, that these issues are destined to haunt Greece for the coming years.

The overspend has put the Greek economy into a parlous state. Now, it seems, that in the rush to complete the infrastructure, that the completion of certain buildings may have been botched.

A report by Germanischer Lloyd, a quality testing and certification group, on the steel and glass roof above the main Olympic stadium in Athens noted a number of faults in the web-like construction above the 70,000 seater stadium.

The stadium cost $288M, 36% over budget, and was completed only within a few weeks of the start of the games.

It seems that the roof needed some repair work.

The government said there was no reason for concern. Deputy Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said:

"This report was completed in February 2005 and, based on this, what (minor repairs) needed to be done have been done. The roof is safe and there is no problem as far as its stability is concerned."

That's alright then, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

It's The Money Stupid

Never be in any doubt that the prime motivating force behind the Olympics is money, not sport.

This point is best illustrated by the news about the top sponsor of the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Torino Italy, MacDonalds.

MacDonalds will shortly roll out new global Olympic-Themed Television commercials.

These new global creative will feature its mascot Ronald McDonald vignettes and a spot celebrating Olympic dreams, McDonald's Olympic Champion.

Two official Olympic venue McDonald's restaurants, in the Torino Olympic Village and Main Press Centre, will also feature McCafe for the first time ever.

I trust that the irony is not lost on people?

Monday, November 7, 2005

Camelot CEO To Run Olympics

It is reported that Diane Thompson, the chief executive of Camelot the British lottery operator, has been approached to run Britain's Olympic Games in 2012.

Ms Thompson has been praised for her skills in managing Camelot, whose ticket sales are experiencing their longest period of growth since the national lottery was set up in 1994.

Advertisements for chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) have closed, and formal interviews are due to take place in December.

Camelot already has links with the Olympics. It has been given the job of raising £1.5BN, over the next seven years, from ticket sales towards the games.

This is an "interesting" use of lottery money, as the lottery was originally set up to raise money for the arts, heritage, health and education.

The highly commercialised Olympics is as far removed from these causes as one could possibly imagine.

I fail to see why lottery should be wasted in this way.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Mascot To Be Unveiled

The mascot for the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be unveiled on November 11.

It is widely expected to be either a Tibetan antelope or a giant panda.

The unveiling date marks the 1,000-day countdown to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, which will start at 8 pm on August 8, 2008.

An audience of at least 4,000 people, including International Olympic Committee officials, will attend the unveiling.

Seemingly there were 662 eligible mascot designs submitted for consideration.