The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ticket Sales Suspended

There has been something of an Olympic sized fiasco in China following the launch of the second tranche of ticket sales for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Organisers have had to suspend ticket sales until next Monday, after the booking system crashed due to high demand on Tuesday.

The organising committee has issued a statement apologising for the mess, stating that they had underestimated demand.

It seems that in the first hour after sales opened, the ticket website received more than 200,000 ticket requests per second. Additionally, phone lines were jammed by customers eager to buy the tickets.

However, it is far better to have too many people trying to buy tickets than too few.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Get On With It

The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, has issued a thinly disguised "hurry up" message to the London Olympics organisers.

Rogge told the BBC that London "is doing OK", but must focus on delivering the Games on time.


"We urge them to work as soon as possible and to prepare today for the unforeseen of tomorrow."

Hardly a ringing endorsement of progress made so far.

Rogge also said that he remained optimistic that a permanent tenant for the London Olympic stadium will be found.

The current legacy plan is to reduce the stadium's capacity from 80,000 to 25,000 in 2013, and use it as a multi-sport venue with athletics and community facilities at its heart.

However, LOCOG need a football or rugby club to become the "anchor tenant" and thus subsidise the stadium. The trouble being that the plans for the stadium do not include a roof for the majority of the seats.

Another example of the poor planning of this event.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tickets Go On Sale

This Tuesday 1.85 million tickets for the 2008 Olympic Games will be up for sale in China, in the second round of booking.

Ticket prices range from 30 Yuan to 5,000 Yuan, and will be sold on the first come, first serve basis at this stage.

Rong Jun, head of the Beijing Olympics Organising Committee (BOCOG), said:

"One can buy a maximum of 50 tickets and the two-ticket limit is applied for 'high-demand events'."

There are over seven million tickets available for sale, with about 40% reserved for domestic Chinese sale.

In the first round of sale between April and August, 63,000 tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies at the 91,000 seat capacity stadium and over two million tickets for the sports events were sold.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Carbon Neutral Flame

The Telegraph reports that organisers of the London 2012 Olympics are exploring ways of developing a more carbon neutral Olympic flame for the duration of the games.

A spokeswoman for London 2012 said:

"We want London 2012 to be a truly sustainable Games. Using a low-carbon fuel to light the Olympic flame and keep it burning throughout the Games is one of the many things we are looking at right now to deliver a 'green games'".

I have a suspicion that they will end up wasting more resources on their search for carbon neutrality than they will save.

The organisers would be wise to recall the story of the "Million Dollar Biro".

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Red Arrows Story Resurfaces

I see that the story about the Red Arrows being banned from the 2012 Olympics, because they are deemed to be too British and too militaristic, has resurfaced again.

This time in none other media organ than the Guardian.

Oh dear, a month or so after the story broke and the Guardian has finally got around to reporting it. The trouble is, all and sundry in the government have stated that the story is unfounded; as no decision has yet been made about the Red Arrows appearing, or not appearing.

Well done the Guardian, for keeping so fully abreast of events!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cars Banned From Capital

In a move that attempts to emulate the Chinese Olympics anti pollution drive, and one that is bound to annoy a few people, London Olympics organisers (ODA) have proposed banning cars from the capital during the 2012 London Olympics.

The ODA are calling for a "cultural shift" in the way that people use transport.

The ODA has set a ludicrously ambitious target of 100% of spectators travelling to the Olympic Park in Stratford by public transport, walking and cycling.

An ODA spokesman said:

"We're not banning people from driving during the Games. The point is really encouraging people to use public transport."

Quite a ridiculous contradiction, if they are not banning people from using cars then there will be a significant percentage that will use cars; hence the 100% target is absurd.

Not very surprisingly not everyone will be expected to abandon their cars. Dignitaries, officials from the International Olympic Committee and sponsors will be able to drive in special Olympic lanes during the Games. The "ban" just applies to the ordinary public.

How very egalitarian!

Needless to say the main obstacle to this "plan" is the fact that London's public transport system is falling apart. For example, the Circle line has to be closed during the weekends for urgent repairs. The impression that this gives to tourists and visitors to London is that of a third world country, rather than a leading capital city.

Quite how London ever convinced the IOC that it has an adequate public transport infrastructure is beyond belief.

Others are not particularly convinced about the ODA's vision either, earlier this year the Commons transport select committee published a report criticising the ODA's draft Olympic travel plan for "not exhibiting any sense of urgency" and being "vague".

The ODA are clearly living in fantasy land.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Post Olympic Shock

Once the London Olympics 2012 have ended, what will happen afterwards?

That's the question posed by Dr Angus McIntosh, a King Sturge (a property consultant) research partner.

Dr McIntosh notes that the improvements in infrastructure in the area that the Games are being held in will provide a boost to property prices pre 2012.

However, as he is quoted in the Telegraph:

"When all the crowds have gone, what are you left with?"

"At the moment there's a lot of discussion about the construction programme being over budget, but we haven't found any clear vision of what legal or political structure will be in place in the future.

You think of thousands of new homes, the parkland, the schools, the doctors' surgeries, all the bits that make sustainable urban development.

Who is going to manage and maintain it?

Who are the asset managers, not in 2012 but 2022

That is exactly the point that the politicians like to gloss over.

Other countries that have hosted the Games have found that the infrastructure that has been built becomes something of a wasteland afterwards. One year after the Athens Olympics the houses built stood empty.

Has anyone in charge of the UK Olympics really addressed that issue?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bad Budget

The IOC has finally admitted to what everyone else has known for a very long time, namely that budgets for long term projects should allow for inflation.

The shambles over the ever burgeoning London 2012 Olympics budget (currently standing at £12BN and rising) has led the IOC to order future bidding cities to provide more accurate budgets of costs.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has told the seven cities bidding for the 2016 Games to give the final cost estimates in 2016 prices.

What on earth took them so long to come to this very obvious conclusion?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Nice Little Earner

A Nice Little EarnerAs I have often said, the Olympics is not about sport but about money. This point is again illustrated by the publication of the amounts being paid to consultants for the London 2012 Olympis.

These "highly useful" companies/individuals will receive £60M (over £1M per week) for their "services" to the London Games.

Olympics Minister, Tessa Jowell, came clean in a parliamentary written answer that consultants are to receive more than £60M. Funny how shy the government is when it comes to talking about the cost of the Games, yet they are always so keen to make a song and dance and grab the publicity about the Games when it makes them look good.

Jowell's answer admitted that Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) spent £50.49M in 2006-2007 and between April and July this year spent a further £10.7M.

A large amount of this government largess (using the taxpayers' money) went to five consultancy companies; Atkins, EDAW Ltd, Ernst and Young, Ove Arup & Partners Ltd and Rockpools.

Needless to say, given that the Olympics budget is out of control (£12BN and rising), this revelation could not have come at a more embarrassing time for our "respected" lords and masters.

To add further fuel to the fires, it should be noted that it is not just the consultancy companies that are making a nice living out of the taxpayers. London organising committee chief executive Paul Deighton was paid £536K, even Princess Anne is in on the act receiving £4K for attending up to four board meetings.

There is also another problem for the hapless Jowell, in July she told MPs that the Department for Culture Media nd Sport (DCMS) were employing no consultants in the current financial year and had hired only two in 2006-2007.

Yet the above revelations prove that the answer she gave in July was...errrmmm...wrong!

Seemingly Jowell won't quite admit to lying, instead she has opted for the politician's fail safe by revising the "facts"; hoping that no one will notice.


"In my previous answer to the honourable member for Faversham and Mid-Kent on July 9, I stated that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had not employed consultancy firms to work on the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in the current financial year and that two consultancy firms were employed in 2006-07.

However, it has since come to light that during 2006-07 a total of six consultancy firms were employed by DCMS on Olympic-related business. One of these firms continued to work on Olympic-related business in 2007-08 and a further four consultancy contracts had also, as of July 9, been entered into during 2007-08.

The cost of consultancy firms employed by the Olympic Delivery Authority in 2006-07 was £50,494,000 and in 2007-08 (as of July 9) was £10,753,000.

These costs reflect the process of establishing the ODA and building up organisational capacity while ensuring key delivery milestones are achieved

How blithely she alters the "facts" of her original answer, without so much as an apology or an admission of error.

Is this woman fit for office?

-The budget is out of control
-She has either lied, or else she is massively incompetent

The clear answer is that she is not fit for office, and should be removed with due haste.

Never allow politicians to run long term projects, they have neither the training nor the integrity to do so.

Monday, October 15, 2007

President Backs Olympics

President Hu Jintao of China, in his speech to the 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party today, made special mention of the Olympics.


"We must organise the 2008 Olympic Games, Paralympic Games and 2010 World Expo well.

We must comprehensively develop mass participation of sports among the people

The Chinese are using the Olympics as a means of showcasing China and China's economic and social achievements to the rest of the world.

The Western media have raised questions as to how China will deal with dissent at Games, and are also closely following the efforts made by the authorities to improve the air quality in Beijing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Olympics Organisers Grilled

The organisers of the London 2012 Olympics submitted themselves to a grilling by the people of Stratford yesterday. Around 200 Londoners filled the Stratford Circus arts venue, for a 2012 Olympic Question and Answer session.

Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee, promised that the stadium to be built at Stratford to hold the games would continue to be available for the staging of athletics events and for local youths.


"It's very clear. We went to Singapore for the bid and made a commitment it would be a multi-purpose stadium for the local community.

You cannot just leave an 80,000-seater stadium in a lunar landscape without any thought of how the legacy will pan out over the years to come.

We will be constructing a permanent 25,000-seater stadium with temporary seating for 50,000. It is a very well-thought-out legacy.

It doesn't stop us talking to local rugby clubs and amateur football clubs

It will come down to money at the end of the day after the games. In the event that the stadium does not look financially viable, when run purely for athletics, those organisations with large wallets (ie football clubs) will inevitably end up calling the shots.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Costs Out of Control

It should come as no surprise to learn that the costs for the London 2012 Olympics are continuing to spiral out of control.

London 2012 organisers (the Olympic Delivery Authority - ODA) have admitted that the cost for the main Olympic Stadium has increased by a stonking 77%, from £280M to £496M.

John Armitt, the chairman of the ODA, admitted to the debacle in the London assembly.

Armitt then also came clean over the costs of the aquatics centre, which will double from £75M to £150M, as a result of a redesign.

The current "guesstimate" of the total costs of the Olympics is around £12BN (including £2BN running costs). However, by the time 2012 is finally upon us, it is likely in my view that these costs will have soared to around £18BN-£20BN.

Armitt attempted to explain the rise in costs away, as being not a rise at all.


"To suggest that costs have doubled from the bid book presents a grossly misleading picture for the public. This figure is a 2012 outturn cost. It includes VAT. It includes inflation. It includes legacy conversion and it includes some site earthworks.

The bid book was a 2004 figure. It included none of these things

Needless to say, the above explanation is pathetic. The reality being that the 2004 figure was wrong, it is as simple as that!

To try to suggest anything else, as Armitt does, is beyond reason; it demonstrates that he is not up to the job of delivering the games on time, and on budget (whatever that may be!).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Skateboarding Nixed

Skateboarding will not feature in the 2012 London Olympics, as plans for the International Cycling Federation to adopt skateboarding as a "wheel-based" sport have failed.

The Federation canvassed opinion among its members throughout the world, but they failed to give their unanimous backing. Therefore, without the endorsement of a current Olympic sport, skateboarding will not be able to be included as an Olympic sport. Its best hope is to possibly to feature as an "exhibition" event.

Skateboarders are not unanimous in their desire to become an Olympic sport, some feel that to become "Olympic" would be contrary to skateboarding's "free and easy" and non conformist image.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Contamination Forces Switch

Organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games are having to move the canoe slalom events from the Spitalbrook site to a new venue, probably between Waltham Cross and Tebaldi Grove stations six miles away, because of contamination.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) says that initial reports indicate that it would cost too much to clean up the Spitalbrook site.

ODA head, David Higgins is quoted by the BBC:

"Although investigations are still continuing, the initial results indicate that the cost of cleaning up the land for this venue would be prohibitive given budget and time restrictions.

Venue designs continue to be developed so that a planning application can be submitted once the site discussions are completed. We are on track to complete the venue for test events in 2011

Monday, October 8, 2007

Olympics Organisers Ban Olympics

In the farce that is the London Olympics 2012, one truth remains self evident; namely that the Olympics are not about sport, but about money.

Nothing demonstrates this point more clearly than the fuss that the London Olympics organisers have caused over a science fiction book by Robert Ronson.

Mr Ronson's crime?

The title he used for his book was "Olympic Mind Games".

The "good people" of the London Olympics decided that this could be viewed as a breach of copyright. In order to squeeze every last drop of money out of the games words such as "Olympics" and "2012" are copyrighted. Therefore, in theory, this site breaches also the copyright, as it liberally uses the word "Olympics".

The organising committee were so angst ridden about Mr Ronson's book, that they sent him an email asking that he desist from using the word "Olympic" and expressions such as "London 2012, or 2012 etc" in the title.

Seemingly the committee has the power to do so under statutes passed in 1995 and 2006. Nonetheless some common sense prevailed in the minds of the Olympic organisers as Ronson refused to kowtow, doubtless fearful of looking totally ridiculous, they have decided that it would be "disproportionate" to prosecute.

It is of course quite ridiculous to attempt to ban the use of words that are listed in dictionaries. Not that it stopped "Big Brother" from doing just that in Orwell's "1984".

Here is a list of banned words for you to savour:

-London 2012

Enjoy them whist you can, the thought police will be coming soon to stop you reading them; unless of course a nice fat fee has been paid first!

Friday, October 5, 2007


US athlete Marion Jones has admitted that she used steroids as she prepared for the 2000 Olympics.

Jones plans to plead guilty tomorrow on two counts of lying to federal agents about her drug use, and an unrelated financial matter.

This means that she could be stripped of the three gold medals and two bronzes that she won in Sydney seven years ago.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Number 10 Denies Red Arrows Ban

This was posted on the 10 Downing Street website yesterday, in response to the Red Arrows petition:

"The Prime Minister's Office has responded early to a petition on its website declaring "untrue" rumours that the Red Arrows had been banned from the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.

The petition claimed that "The Department of Culture, Media and Sport have deemed the RAF Red Arrows as Unsuitable for the 2012 Olympics because they are too British," but the response to the petition, posted ahead of the closing date, makes clear that the Red Arrows have not been banned from the opening ceremony for 2012 and that no decision on the ceremony has actually been made.

The organising committee of London 2012 will decide what to include in the Opening Ceremony and other celebrations - but with almost five years to go, decisions are yet to be made on what these will look like.

Speaking on the issue, Red Arrows spokesman Rachel Huxford said:

"We have had no discussions about the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics whatsoever. We are still planning our 2008 season at this stage and that is a long way off.

"We understand that no decision has yet been made about the ceremony. We performed when London won its Olympic bid in 2005 after we received a standard request from the Olympic organisers

Any bets as to what the final decision will be though?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Erection Problems?

The Olympics is never about sport, it's really about money. Those organising the London 2012 Olympics have found this to their cost this week.

Steel erectors will be able to demand astronomical wages for Olympic related work, if the sector standard National Engineering Construction Industry Association (NAECI) agreement is not used on London 2012 work.

That at least is the conclusion of Contract Journal.

The costs of these games simply keep rising and rising!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Olympic Park Green Light

London's Olympic Park, a 500 acre site in Stratford, has received permission to be built from the Government Office for London and the Greater London Authority.

The park will be home to the Olympic stadium, aquatics center, velodrome, fencing, field hockey, handball and basketball arenas.

It is expected that around 180,000 spectators will enter the Olympic Park every day, during the games in 2012.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Fake Off!

Beware the conmen and scammers who congregate around the Olympics, like flies around shit.

Police in southern China have arrested a man for running a fake Beijing 2008 Olympics website, that scammed people by running bogus contests.

Computer engineer Liao Peigui made $53K after persuading "winners" to first transfer a deposit equal to 10-20% of the promised prize money into a bank account that he owned.

Liao had "cloned" the official website of the Beijing Olympic organising committee, known as BOCOG; thus it appeared genuine to the unsuspecting.

Scamming is endemic on the web, as this site demonstrates