The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

US To Boycott Olympics?

It would seem that the US is hinting that it may boycott the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, unless China is more supportive over sanction re the Darfur crisis.

I can't see the Chinese being particularly impressed with that threat. Maybe they could retaliate and ban the US from the Games, over the Iraq fiasco?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Olympic Labour Shortage

It seems that there may be a shortage of cheap labour available to help with preparations for the London 2012 Olympics.

Poland will compete with Britain for workers to prepare the countries for the 2012 European Soccer Championships in Ukraine and Poland, versus the London Olympics being held the same year.

Polish Deputy Regional Development Minister, Jerzy Kwiecinski, said:

"The Polish minority is the largest in Ireland and England.

Britain is getting ready for the Olympics and Poland is getting ready for the Euro Championships. Workers will be needed here and there to help develop the needed infrastructure

Kwiecinski said that the Polish administration must create the right conditions to motivate the return of hundreds of thousands Poles, who have left Poland in search of jobs in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

It looks like the Olympics budget will have to be revised again, to take into account the increase in wage costs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

No Smoking

China will announce no-smoking rules this week, for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, to coincide with World No Tobacco Day.

Zhang Jianshu, head of the Beijing Health Bureau's publicity department, said:

"We have been in final talks with the International Olympic Committee and other groups to fine-tune draft regulations that will be released on Thursday.

We are very much at the beginning stage of the battle against tobacco in China and a smoke-free Olympics will hopefully help us get the message out

The ban is expected to cover all 37 competition venues other training sites, during the Games; as well as the Olympic village, designated Olympic hotels, restaurants, and entertainment areas.

Quite how well this will go down in country that loves to smoke, remains to be seen.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Olympic Heatwave

It is forecast that Beijing will suffer from a major heatwave next year, during the 2008 Olympics.

Beijing is currently experiencing the worst heatwave in 50 years, it was 37 degree Celsius on Saturday.

China decided to move the start of the 2008 Olympics from late July to August 8, because data indicated that there was less chance of rain then.

The competitors and spectators may end up regretting that decision.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Food Safety

China will strengthen oversight of food products entering Beijing, in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

There has been a series of food safety scandals.

Rewards for uncovering unlawful production methods have been increased from 10K Yuan to 50K Yuan.

Beijing will also set up a system to trace back food and food products to their origins, and will strictly monitor the use of fertiliser and pesticides.

China is not going to allow anything to damage its image or reputation in the run up to the Games.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Scottish Team

Alex Salmond, the newly elected First Minister for Scotland, is seeking permission from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for Scotland to field its own team.

A somewhat bizarre early initiative:

1 He has not yet discussed this within the Scottish Executive.

2 Until the funding and budget proposals for Salmond's "independent" Scotland are clarified, this form of expensive promise may be difficult to fulfill.

3 The UK hardly ever reaps a large harvest of medals in the Olympics. Why does Salmond believe that a smaller, less well funded, team will do any better.

Salmond's proposal is nothing more than naked political opportunism, wrapped in the flag of Scotland.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Beijing Olympics Tickets

To get a Beijing Olympics ticket, submit an application to the Beijing organising committee for the 2008 Olympic Games(BOCOG). However, BOCOG does not guarantee all applications. Random selection will be adopted for over-subscribed sessions.

BOCOG will send you a confirmation letter after your payment is completed. However, you cannot get your ticket in hand until June 2008.

Residents of the Chinese mainland


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Clean Air

Wang Wei, secretary general of the Beijing Games' organising committee, said that air quality remains a major concern for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Pollution controls are having an effect, Beijing experienced 241 "good air quality days" last year, up from 100 in 1998. However, there is still room for improvement.

Wang said:

"We want to make sure the athletes have the best air quality."

Wang also noted that he thought the Games could "promote" human rights.

"I think that human rights conditions keep improving in China.

And I think this is going to be a good thing for the general social progress including human rights, that's no problem.

The world does not really know as much about China as we wish.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Railman Takes Up Olympic Post

John Armitt, chief executive of Network Rail since 2002 and briefly of its predecessor Railtrack, has been named as the chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).

As from September 2007, Mr Armittwill be at the helm.

His appointment, in theory, will be for 5 years and he will earn £250,000 a year for working three-and-a-half days a week.

An ex colleague said:

"I think he's mad because the Olympics is a complete political nightmare. I'd be amazed if he got to 2012."

Given the lamentable state of the UK rail network, is this an entirely wise choice?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

2012 Ministry

As noted a few days ago on this site, Tessa Jowell's position of running the 2012 London Olympic Games now looks to be untenable.

The BBC reports that Gordon Brown is actively considering setting up a ministry for the 2012 Olympics.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), under Tessa Jowell, currently has responsibility for the Games.

Brown seemingly wants a heavyweight to take charge of the Olympics, given the ongoing shambles over the budget this is hardly surprising.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The White Elephant

Adding another nail in the coffin of the London 2012 Olympics, is the Greater London Assembly. They have issued a report that notes that the 2012 Olympics will struggle to bring a boom in jobs, sport and housing.

The report also notes that the Games could result in "white elephant" venues, job losses and a "couch potato" generation hooked on television sports coverage.

The report is based on the impact of previous Olympics at Athens, Sydney, Atlanta and Barcelona. The all too clear conclusions are that venues "struggled to make their mark" in improving employment and sports participation.

The authors of the report, Prof Gavin Poynter and Dr Iain MacRury, said that Greece actually lost 70,000 jobs after the 2004 Games.

In Atlanta some neighbourhoods lost housing to the Olympics development.

The 2012 Olympics will prove to be a colossal waste of time and money.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Brown Targets Jowell

Given the ongoing fiasco over the London 2102 Olympics budget (now standing at a whopping £12BN), and the impending coronation of Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, it should come as no surprise to learn that the position of Tessa Jowell (who allegedly is in charge of the Olympics 2012) is under threat.

Brown is reportedly considering three options:

  • The 2012 Games would remain under the control of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), but with culture secretary and Olympics minister Tessa Jowell and her sports minister, Richard Caborn, replaced after six years in the job.

  • Responsibility for the Olympics to be removed from the DCMS and placed in another Whitehall department, such as the Cabinet Office or Ruth Kelly's Department for Communities and Local Government.

  • DCMS to be broken up, and responsibility for the Olympics to be given to the Cabinet Office.

Whatever option Brown chooses, it would seem that Jowell will not be attending the 2012 Games in an official capacity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Robbing Peter To Pay Paul

Graham Sheffield, the chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society, last night attacked the British government for using £112M from arts lottery funding to help pay for the rising costs of the Olympics.

At the society's annual awards ceremony, Graham Sheffield condemned the government's "thoughtless damage" and "incoherent approach" to the arts, accusing it of:

"one minute praising the arts sector to the skies, the next, nicking hundreds of millions of pounds from the arts to balance the books on its inadequate budgeting for the Olympics".

No one is impressed with the government's handling and management of the London Olympics, except that is for the government itself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

China Targets Tourists

As the Beijing 2008 Olympics draws nearer, the authorities in China are keen to ensure that the city makes a good impression on foreign visitors. As such, they are targeting Chinese tourists (who are taking advantage of the May week holiday) who behave badly in public by, eg, spitting, littering or shoving in queues.

Beijing is littered with (sorry about the pun) posters telling people how to behave.

The China National Tourism Administration issued a circular, making travel agencies and tour guides responsible for correcting tourists' bad behaviour during the holidays.

Included in the list of "forbidden" actions are; jumping the line, spitting, littering and clearing one's throat loudly in public.

It is expected that around 550,000 foreign tourists, and 2,000,000 Chinese tourists will visit Beijing during the Games.

Zhai Weihua, Spiritual Civilisation Steering Committee, deputy director said:

"Promoting civilised behaviours among Chinese travelers is a long-term task. To harvest short-term results before the games, we need to focus our resources on the main problems.

Tens of thousands of reporters will come to China to cover the Games next year, which means both China's positive and negative sides will be amplified. Once bad impressions are made, they last.

That's why we should grab the opportunity to change uncouth behaviour

Manners are a virtue, and it is to the credit of the Chinese that they are taking them so seriously.

Friday, May 4, 2007

China Crackdown

The Chinese Human Rights Defenders group has claimed today that China is cracking down on dissent, in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, by persecuting and harassing human rights activists.

The Chinese Human Rights Defenders group said that the situation deteriorated last year, with activists increasingly arrested and intimidated.


"The government appears determined to stamp out any sign of discontent and dissent so as to present a happy facade of social stability and social harmony to the world as the 2008 Summer Olympics draws closer."

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Olympics Black Hole

The London 2012 Olympics continues to cause controversy. It has been revealed that ministers covered up a £1BN black hole in the cost of the London Olympics, when they made the bid to host the Games.

Minutes of a meeting in November 2005 (that was the year in which London was awarded the games), attended by Treasury officials and accountants, show that ministerial aides had been warned of the additional £1BN a year earlier.

This revelation puts further pressure on embattled Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, who has been accused of massively under-estimating the burden on taxpayers.

The original bid showed a cost of £3.4BN, the latest budget for staging the Games is £9.3BN; the reality will in fact be at least £12BN.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said:

"It turns out that Gordon Brown knew all along that the published Olympic budget was wrong, and he's spent the last year trying to cover his tracks."

As I have noted many times before, never ever entrust politicians with organising and running a long term project such as the Olympics. They are not capable.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Genocide Olympics

Events such as the Olympics, with all the money and attention that they attract, tend to be used by people (politicians especially) for their own self seeking ends.

It seems that in order to attract the Olympic flame of publicity, Democratic Representative Tom Lantos has fallen into that trap.

Yesterday Lantos gave an absurd warning that China must not be allowed to turn the 2008 Olympics into the "genocide" Games.

Quite when genocide was ever included in the Olympic agenda is beyond me. Lantos then went on to "demand" (why can politicians never "ask") that US security aid for the games must safeguard human rights.

Lantos is quoted as saying:

"We don't want these Olympics to go down in the history books as the genocide Olympics."

Lantos called on the US government to ensure security cooperation with Beijing, designed to protect the Games from terror attacks, would not in any way infringe basic human rights and free expression.

He went on to say:

"It is outrageous that China is using the very symbol of international unity and brotherhood to further grind down the Tibetans and the Taiwanese who simply want to live their lives without interference from Beijing."

Quite how Lantos expects hyperbolic terms, such as "genocide", to aid the cause of the Tibetan and Taiwanese people is beyond me.

With regard to freedom of expression, Lantos might do well to review the workings of his own country's Patriot Act before castigating others.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Chicago Sell Off

Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley, has promised taxpayers that they would not end up footing the bill for the 2016 Olympics (were Chicago to win the right to host the games).

How can he keep his word, given that those cities that host the Olympics tend to make huge losses?

Simple, Chicago has been secretly drafting a plan to sell public assets to help fund the Games and will use the money raised to cover up to $500M in losses.

The United States Olympic Committee had demanded financial assurances that Chicago can pay for the games. As such Chicago has developed plans for the sale of public air rights over near-downtown property.

On April 14, the U.S. Olympic Committee selected Chicago to represent the U.S. in the bid for the 2016 Olympics. The final choice of host city will be made by the International Olympic Committee in October 2009.