The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wise Words

"Don't let people believe the overall budget is what it costs to host the Olympic Games

That is a relatively small part of what is likely to be a much larger figure

Given that the London 2012 Olympics budget (currently £12BN, including running costs) is spiralling out of control, I couldn't have put it better myself.

Who spoke such wisdom?

None other than the Minister for Culture and Sport, Tessa Jowell, during a question and answer session in Chicago (Chicago is bidding for the 2016 games).

Why is it that Jowell has only now recognised this very obvious fact?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Accreditation Begins

The accreditation process for journalists to register for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games has begun, and the deadline for the return of forms is February 29 2008.

Yang Minghui, deputy director of the BOCOG's accreditation centre, said:

"The BOCOG has begun distributing press application forms and accreditation guides to the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and accredited organisations.

According to Olympic charter regulations, holders of valid Olympic or Paralympic Identity and Accreditation Cards (OIACs) can use them, in combination with a valid passport or travel document, to enter and exit the host country

Those who are accredited are allowed to remain in the host country to carry out their duties during the Olympic and Paralympics, and for one month before and after.

It is estimated there will be 21,600 accredited writers, photographers and broadcasters during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Green Flame

The Olympic flame for the 2012 London Olympics will burn green, like an emerald. To be less poetic, the organisers want a carbon neutral flame that is fuelled by environmentally products such as tree cuttings.

Wants and desires of course do not necessarily match reality. This is all but a pipe dream if scientists cannot find a way to make the green flame burn as brightly as a normal flame.

The London Organising Committee and EDF Energy have begun to search for a suitable biofuel for the flame.

David Stubbs, the London Organising Committee's Head of Sustainability, said:

"The Olympic flame is potentially quite an energy consumer. We are looking at alternative fuels to help reduce the impact of that flame. It is early days yet. We do not know what fuel to use."

Gareth Wynn, of EDF Energy, said:

"We are looking for something that has the right look and feel. There is a balance to be struck because a really clean flame can be difficult to see. We have to find a balance so that it provides the right fuel but can be seen.

I cannot tell you yet what the solution is going to be and what the gas is but we are going to find it. We have made a commitment to find it. The flame is such an iconic image that we have to get it right

Let us trust that the money, effort and experiments that are used in the search are not more energy/environmentally wasteful than that of just opting to use the conventional flame.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cat Murderers

It is ironic that whilst a veritable hue and cry has been raised over the fate of some newts that currently reside on the proposed London 2012 Olympics site, very little has been done so far to protect a far more agreeable species namely a large colony of cats.

Hundreds of feral cats, who have made the site their home, face being crushed to death by diggers at the new Olympic Park site because the Games' organisers are neglecting them to focus on rescuing a population of newts.

The Celia Hammond Animal Trust claims that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) had allowed volunteers onto the land for a couple of weeks to rescue cats. However, the ODA has now refused their repeated requests to go back on to get the rest of them.

The irony is that London 2012 organisers are prepared to spend £70K rescuing 150 newts from another part of the Stratford site. Could it be that Ken Linvingstone, the Mayor of London with a well known passion for newts, had a hand in saving the newts?

Celia Hammond, who runs the charity Celia Hammond Animal Trust, said the authorities were being "obstructive".

The charity has set up a petition on its website asking for access to whole of the site, in order to rescue the remaining cats.

Joanna Lumley is a supporter of the campaign, and is quoted in The Telegraph:

"Celia and her team are fully qualified to have dealt with this problem weeks ago had she been granted the access she needed. But this has been denied time and time again, and the appalling mismanagement by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) means that many animals may have died already."

As I keep repeating:

The Olympics is not about sport,

it's not about the environment,

it's not about making the world a better place,

it's about money.

Sign the petition to save the cats here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Grim Reaper

The Grim ReaperThe Royal Air Force have confirmed that it will deploy armed "Reaper" unmanned aerial vehicles during the London 2012 Olympics.

There is, it has to be said, a degree of risk in deploying armed "Terminator" inspired robo planes over London. However, the British government in their desire to keep the population under control regard the political benefits from spinning the terrorist threat as greater than the risk of any of the drones going awry and killing a civilian.

The Reaper is the latest version of the General Atomics Predator hunter-killer UAV, it can carry an array of laser-guided bombs and missiles including the Hellfire air-to-ground weapon which has been used against Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

Hunter-killer UAVs are controlled by a ground station that directs them to the enemy and remotely fires its weapons.

The 11m-long Reaper can fly for 14 hours and carry an array of sensors including cameras, radars, electro-optical and infra-red that allow it to be deployed around the clock in all types of weather.

UAVs are used primarily for surveillance and targeting, but can make a highly cost-effective offensive weapon when armed with bombs and missiles.

So that's reassuring then!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Only Stunners Need Apply

Those ladies hoping to become a hostess for next year's Beijing Olympics need only bother applying if they are slim, cute and tall.

That is the advice of Zhao Dongming, director of the cultural activities department for the Beijing Olympic organising committee. He went on to say that they must have stunning figures, and measure between 1.68 metres and 1.78 metres in height.

Zhao is tasked with finding 380 women aged between 18 and 25 to serve as hostesses at medal ceremonies at Olympic venues, and another 180 for work at the opening ceremony and flag-raising events.

He said:

"We want them to be young and beautiful, and be well-rounded individuals as well."

I can't see Lord Coe getting away with that if he tried it in the London Games.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Olympics Drains Cash From Wales

Lloyds TSB has sponsored the the National Eisteddfod (Cymanfa Ganu Welsh hymn-singing event) every year since 1979. However, as a result of financial commitments to sponsoring the London 2012 Olympics, it has announced that it is cancelling the sponsorship of the Welsh event.

Needless to say, there are those in Wales who are less than impressed that an event in London is draining Wales of much needed funds.

Past Eisteddfod archdruid Robyn Lewis, displaying a touch of nationalism, said:

"If the bank were to divert its money to another worthy cause, such as poverty in the Third World, I would understand the situation and might well sympathise to some extent.

But the London Olympic Games!

There appears to be little sympathy or support for these forthcoming games in parts of Wales.

Quite simply, our country will not be represented. To say that 'British' entries include Wales is to add insult to injury.

The bank's Eisteddfod sponsorship being withdrawn and diverted to so contentious an event outside Wales will, I believe, reflect very badly on the bank.

I have been a customer of Lloyds TSB for many years. Hitherto, the bank has given every satisfaction in its handling of my affairs.

Let me make myself quite clear. If Lloyds TSB persist, I shall have to consider my position as a customer from now on

It would seem that Mr Lewis is not a fan of a United Kingdom.

It is doubtful that Lloyds TSB will heed his call.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Too Many Cooks

The Telegraph has a one page summary outlining the structure of the organisation behind the London 2012 Olympics.

Far too many different bodies and egos for this to work well, in my view.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Olympics Fire

A blaze started at the site for the 2012 Olympics park in London yesterday, and sent a plume of acrid smoke into the air over London.

Firefighters were called around midday, as residents across the capital reported seeing the smoke rising thousands of feet into the air.

The fire was in a disused warehouse in Hackney Wick, East London, on the edge of the Olympic park, which is being prepared for the 2012 games.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) said that the fire appeared to have been started accidentally, and confirmed that its staff had been at the warehouse earlier in the day.

The London fire brigade said the warehouse was not in use, but it was too early to say how the fire had started or what had caused the thick black smoke.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cycling Newtered

Sometimes the plans of mice, men and the Olympics Delivery Authority (ODA) can be blown off course by the most unlikely of circumstances.

In the case of the ODA plans for cycling, it is the humble newt (Ken Livingstone's favourite creature) that has put a spanner in the works.

Cyclists attending clubs at Eastway Cycle Circuit in East London face the prospect of being denied facilities for at least a year, after newts held up the building of a new interim track.

The cyclists left Eastway in November 2006, to make way for the Olympic Velopark due to open April 2007.

However, the land is home to 450 newts one of which is the rare and protected great crested newt.

The London Development Agency (LDA) have had to put work on hold until the newts are relocated at a cost of £70K.

To date, 240 have been moved, but that leaves another 210. The delay in newt clearance means that the cyclists will be without their track until Summer 2008 at the earliest.

Eastway Users Group Chairman, Michael Humphreys, said:

"I would like to know why the LDA did not start collecting the newts until August 2007.

A lot of time has been wasted

This little episode is entirely symbolic of the slip shod organisation and planning of the London Games.

More cock ups can be expected.

Friday, November 9, 2007


The International Olympic Committee President, Jacques Rogge, has reaffirmed that the IOC will continue its fight against doping.


"I would like to reiterate the IOC's total commitment to the fight against doping."

The IOC will adopt a law that would see athletes who had served a doping ban of six months or more, being banned from the Olympic Games.


"This measure will be accepted at the next IOC congress in Beijing in August, just before the Games, meaning it will come into effect in time for the 2010 winter Games in Vancouver and the 2012 summer Games in London."

Why do the athletes damage their bodies in this manner?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thumbs Down For The Olympics Stadium

The London ODA continues to heap embarrassment and opprobrium upon itself, not content with allowing the budget to run out of control and not even being able to set a firm price for the stadium, they have now managed to attract derision and scorn for the lousy design of the 2012 London Olympics stadium.

The design was revealed yesterday, with all the usual hype and pr spin usually reserved for a third world dictatorship.

The result?

A very predictable damp squib.

A boring oval shaped stadium that has no defining features of beauty or originality, and worse it will have to down size from a capacity of 80,000 during the games to 25,000 afterwards.


Simple, there is no need for a stadium in that part of London. At best it will used, maybe, by a football club.

Hardly legacy architecture, is it?

Then again, the legacy of these games (an out of control budget, bad planning, hype, spin and lousy architecture) is rather in keeping with the capabilities and performance of the current government.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Olympics Budget Shambles

As is widely known, the budget for the London 2012 Olympics is an utter shambles. It is currently standing at around £12BN (including running costs), and is likely to balloon to around £18BN by the time the games are held.

Despite the fact that the financial planning of these games has been an unmitigated disaster, the organisers still seem determined to heap further misery and ridicule upon themselves.

It is reported that the final cost for the main London 2012 Olympic Stadium could be higher than the revised £496M million estimate that was reported last month.

Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) chairman John Armitt told members of the London Assembly on October 10th that they had agreed the figure of £496M with main contractors Robert McAlpine for the 80,000 seater stadium.

The original budget for the stadium was in fact £280M, the £496M represents a staggering 77% increase.

However, it seems that the figure that Armitt gave the London Assembly was only a forecast. It seems that the forecast figure has an 80% chance of being correct. The people organising the games really seem to have no concept of plain speaking, and prefer instead to allow people to make assumptions.

Needless to say, this lack of rigour in their planning and communications inevitably comes back to bite them. I would have thought that they should have learnt their lesson by now, evidently not!

The actual cost of the stadium will only be known once the work is complete in 2011, a year before the London Games open.

I wonder how many more "surprises" the ODA have hidden up their sleeves for the long suffering tax payers?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Personal Branding

My compliments to the parents in China who hold no fear of being prosecuted by the IOC for using their "Olympics" brand name. It seems that nearly 3,600 people in China are called Aoyun, which translates to "Olympics" in English.

In addition, 4,100 people have names that translate into Beijing Olympic Games.

It is likely, that as the date for the 2008 Beijing Games approaches, the number of people with Olympics based names will increase.

What will the IOC lawyers do, in response to such a blatant breach of their copyright rules?

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Ticket Lottery

Ticket sales for the 2008 Beijing Olympics will revert to a lottery system, after last week's problems with the first-come, first served process caused the computer system to crash.

Demand was so high that the official ticketing website had 8 million views in the first hour.

The first tranche of tickets were sold in April 15 using a lottery system, and organisers decided to revert to it "in the interest of fairness and for everyone's convenience."

People who want to buy tickets can submit applications between December 10th and December 30th.

The date of the lottery will be announced later.