The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Friday, February 29, 2008

World's Largest Airport

Light years away from the misery and shabbiness of Heathrow, Beijing has opened the world's largest airport in time for the 2008 Olympics.

Beijing's new airport has a floor space of 986,000 square metres, double the total area of the first two terminals.

The building is formed in the shape of a dragon, and was designed by British architect Lord Foster. It will handle 76 million passengers a year.

Maybe Heathrow will be given a similar upgrade, and makeover, in time for the 2012 Games?

Fat chance!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Busman's Holiday

Echoing that Cliff Richard classic "Summer Holiday", a number of London bus drivers are going to drive from Trafalgar Square to Beijing in honour of the Beijing Olympics.

The trip is to celebrate the cultural links between Beijing and London (which will host the Games in 2012).

The icon of London, a red double-decker bus will be used on the three month journey which starts in June.

Eight drivers will make the trip which will cross Europe, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan before reaching China.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Builder Shortage

The London Olympics organisers have put out a call for 182,000 construction workers, as they scramble to complete the construction of the Olympics venues.

Seemingly there is also a requirement for 15,000 more plumbers by 2012.

The Construction Skills Network, which says the demand will peak in 2011, is predicting that there will be a need for 2.8 million people to be working in the construction industry across the UK in the run up to the Olympics.

Given the shortage of suitably qualified, honest, plumbers and builders in the UK at the best of times I wonder how they will find so many in such a short space of time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The £440M Drain on Culture

The 2012 London Olympic Games will drain £440M from London's sport and arts groups. That is the finding of a report issued by the London Assembly culture and sport committee.

Chairman of the group, Dee Doocey, said that it was "ludicrous" that the grassroots groups that encourage children into sport and the arts will miss out.

It estimated that of the £2.2BN being taken from lottery causes to contribute to the £9.3BN needed to host the Games, London will lose about £440m.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ken Cocks It Up

It seems that the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has made a rare admission of a mistake.

Well, rather, he has blamed an underling for a mistake.

The cock up relates to an invitation issued to Linford Christie (banned for steroid use) to be one of the Olympic torchbearers at the London 2012 Olympics. The invitation was in writing, and signed by Ken.

However, once it became public knowledge that Christie had been invited, there was an almighty storm of protest about how having a cheat acting as a protagonist in the Games would send the wrong message.

Initially the Greater London Authority (GLA) tried the old trick of denying the story, saying that the reports were "inaccurate".

However, the truth finally overcame the spin and Ken was keen to extricate himself from the mess. He revoked the invitation blaming an underling for the error.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Get Real

All of those siren voices, and celebs, who are calling for a boycott of the Olympics in China need to understand the following.

When you stop buying Chinese products and clothes, then you may have a moral leg to stand on in your call for a boycott. However, even if you manage to source all of your products from outside of China, the majority of people in the West will still continue to buy Chinese products.

Why boycott the Games, when we continue to buy the products?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Catalyst For Change?

Gordon Brown and the Olympics organisers are displaying an unhealthy amount of hubris, and congratulating themselves about the job enhancing prospects of the 2012 London Olympics.

Brown claims that the London 2012 Olympics are a "catalyst for change".

Seemingly 10% of the current workforce of 2,275, who are preparing the East London site for the construction of the venues, was previously unemployed. There is a long-term target of 7% of jobs being filled by those who had been unemployed.

That's all very well, but what happens when the Games are over?

What will be the tangible legacy of the 2012 Games?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Banking Overload

China, as it puts the final touches to the preparations for the Beijing Olympics, is leaving nothing to chance.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), the banking watchdog, stated that banks must upgrade their information technology to prevent risks of system collapse caused by bank card transaction and stock trading peaks during the upcoming Olympics.

There is a risk that a spike in card use and stock trading is likely to overload the country's banking system, said Guo Ligen, vice-chairman of CBRC.

He announced that the CBRC will launch an inspection of major banks' information systems from February to July.

There have been system breakdowns at five commercial banks over the past year, mainly due to overload.

Guo said:

"Problems occurred at those banks with relatively advanced information technology and risk control ability, some happened even at a crucial moment.

It revealed the fragility of our banking information system

Contingency plans are needed to be in place before the expected spike in transactions in August.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bush To Attend Games

President George W Bush has said that he will attend the Beijing Olympics, despite the fuss over China's support of the Sudanese regime and Steven Spielberg stepping down as the Games' artistic adviser earlier this week.

Mr Bush said that he viewed the Games as a "sporting event" and that China's close ties with Sudan would not affect his stance, despite what he has termed "genocide" in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

China is not best pleased by the fuss.

Liu Jianchao, a foreign ministry spokesman, said:

"It is understandable if some people do not understand the Chinese government policy on Darfur, but I am afraid that some people may have ulterior motives, and this we cannot accept.

China is also concerned about the humanitarian issues there, but we have been playing a positive and constructive role in promoting peace in Darfur

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Protests Increase

Following on from Steve Spielberg's decision to drop out of advising the Beijing Olympics, eight Nobel peace laureates have written on open letter to the Chinese president demanding action to end "atrocities" in Sudan.

The open letter, published in The Independent newspaper, accuses China of "providing resources that make it easier for that government to continue to carry out its atrocities".

Olympic athletes, MPs and business leaders are among the other signatories.

The Olympics, despite the best efforts/wishes of the Chinese and IOC, does not and cannot exist in a vacuum. However, engagement rather than boycott is the best way to promote understanding and change.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spielberg Quits Olympics

Steven Spielberg has withdrawn as an artistic adviser to the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

He issued a statement, in which he accused China of not doing enough to pressure its ally Sudan to end the "continuing human suffering" in western Darfur.

Beijing has not yet responded to this major setback to its Games.

It is reasonable to assume that they will not be best pleased by this.

The International Olympic Committee said:

"The IOC recognise Darfur is a highly complex issue, with tragic circumstances, but is a matter for the UN to resolve."

The question is, will others follow suit?

Monday, February 11, 2008

British Censorship Shambles

The British Olympic Association (BOA) was forced into a humiliating, and well deserved, climbdown yesterday over its pathetic attempt to bar UK athletes from talking about politics and human rights during the Beijing Olympics.

The BOA had initially insisted that British athletes, if they wanted to compete in Beijing, would have to sign a contract stating that they "are not to comment on any politically sensitive issues" involving the host country.

Needless to say, this incredibly inept attempt at thought control went down like a lead balloon; and the BOA found itself under almost as much attack as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The BOA has now attempted to rewrite history, and perform an emergency makeover of its PR.

BOA Chief Executive, Simon Clegg, said in a statement:

"This is not our intention, nor is it our desire to restrict athletes' freedom of speech and the final agreement will reflect this."

The BOA now claim that it had only wanted to draw athletes' attention to a rule in the Olympic charter barring political propaganda at Olympic venues.

BOA claim that the goal is to focus Olympics' coverage on sports, rather than politics.

Well, they would say that wouldn't they?

Friday, February 8, 2008

The O Word

The organisers of the London Olympics have claimed another victim in their relentless campaign against people using the "O" word, unless they have paid for the privilege.

Students at the University of Brighton have been banned from using the word "Olympics" to promote an event because of copyright issues, and have been issued with a warning by the organisers of the London 2012 games.

The university's Chelsea School had planned to name a series of talks by sports personalities The Olympic Lecture Series.

Unfortunately for them and anyone else daring to use the "O" word, the terms "London 2012", "Olympics" and "2012" have been protected by government legislation passed in 2006 and designed to help the interests of major companies sponsoring the games.

Anyone breaching the ban faces a warning, and can be taken to court if they are found using it to make money.

What about media organisations that use these words?

Do they have to pay each time they use it?

The Olympics are not about sport, purely money!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

It's The Money Stupid

Congratulations to British Airways for spending £40M, in order to secure the rights to use the much derided "Lisa Simpson Gives Head" London Olympics logo.

Lisa Simpson Gives Head

Money well spent!

Other organisations, which have tried to enter into the spirit of things, but have not paid the requisite fee, have had a few problems.

Dennis Spurr owns the high street butchers "The Fantastic Sausage Factory" in Weymouth where the Olympic sailing events will be held.

He put up a poster over his shop, showing the Olympic rings shaped as sausages below the word "fantastic".

Needless to say the "enforcers" of the London Olympics were not best pleased, as they had not received their pound of flesh. They rang Mr Spurr and ordered him to take it down.

He duly complied, as he didn't want to be sued by the heavies that run the London Games.

However, hats off to one enterprise that has stuck two fingers up at the moneymaking machine that is the Olympics.

"Bar 2012", a bar in Weymouth, registered its name two years before London won the bid; and the London Olympics organisers can't touch them for that.

Good for them!

As I have stated on previous occasions, the Olympics is not about sport; it's about money.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Olympic Clean Up

In the final months leading up to the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese authorities are putting the final touches in place in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Beggars, street peddlers, prostitutes and other undesirables are disappearing from streets on government orders to clean up the city's image. Domestic critics are being silenced, and newspapers are also reportedly banned from printing negative stories on the Games.

The games open on 8th August 2008.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Lack of Hills Stymie Mountain Bike Course

In a rather ironic twist, inspectors from the International Cycling Federation have vetoed the proposed Olympic 2012 mountain bike course, because it does not contain enough hills.

The event was to have been held at the Weald Country Park in Essex. However, the inspectors told the London Organising Committee (Locog) that the track would not challenge the best riders.

An alternative site must now be chosen, and the inspectors will return to Britain in two weeks to view alternative locations.

The trouble is, the organisers want to keep the Olympics "compact"; therefore a site near to the games with sufficiently challenging "hills/mountains" needs to be found.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Costs Keep Rising

The costs for the 2012 London Olympics just keep rising. The latest admission of budgetary failure relates to the costs of the aquatics centre, which has trebled in cost over the last 4 years.

The expected cost of the 22,500-seat building, which will contain two 50-metre pools and a diving pool, is now £214M against a budget £70M in 2004.

Seemingly a large amount of this increase is down to VAT and inflation.

You would have thought that the original budget would have take these two very obvious factors into account, wouldn't you?

Needless to say, opposition politicians are duly "outraged". Bob Neill, the Conservative London Assembly Olympics spokesman, said:

"This is simply an outrage.

Late and massively over budget.

It's a terrible shame for those who would have used it to train, those Londoners who were looking forward to swimming there and a big disappointment for all of us who are going to pay for it

No one seriously believes that the current budget £12BN (including £2BN running costs) will actually be met, do they?