The Olympics

The Olympics

Text

News, information and stories about the 2016 Brazilian Olympic Games and the Olympics in general.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Legal Win

The organisers of the London 2012 Olympics have won a legal battle over the land for the proposed Olympics site.

They are now allowed to buy that land, and force some businesses currently occupying the area to vacate their premises.

Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) were confirmed by Industry Secretary Alistair Darling.

Manny Lewis, Chief Executive of the London Development Agency (LDA), said:

"Whilst we have been granted the CPO powers, we will continue to negotiate with landowners in an effort to reach agreements.

We have already managed to secure 93% of the land through negotiation and the LDA is on course to deliver an incredibly complex project on time
."

The LDA claim that around 70 businesses may have trouble moving and some jobs may be lost, but the Olympics would lead to an extra 11,000 jobs in the area.

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Olympic Domain Names

Two new domain names, that link to this site, have now been purchased:

www.olympicsweblog.com

www.olympicsdiary.com

The other domain names linking to this site, as listed in the menu bar, all remain active.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Clean Olympics

Liu Qi, secretary of the Chinese Communist Party's Beijing Municipal Committee, promised a "clean" 2008 Olympics.

This promise comes one day after the party expelled Liu Zhihua, the Beijing vice mayor in charge of Olympic construction projects. He has been accused of bribery and other offences.

Liu Zhihua took bribes of "several million yuan" and "helped his mistress to seek profit in projects".

Liu Qi said:

"We must tighten auditing and monitoring efforts on the preparatory work of the Olympics to prevent all potential problems. Efforts must be made to ensure that staff members involved in the Olympic preparations and venue construction projects remain on track, and make sure the Olympics are clean."

Lucrative projects, such as the Olympics, do seem to bring out the worst in people.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Livingstone Guarantees No Tax Rise

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, has "guaranteed" that Harrow residents will not pay more tax to fund the 2012 London Olympics.

Speaking on BBC Radio London, Livingstone said:

"I know concerns have been raised recently about increases to council tax to pay for the Olympics, I guarantee to Harrow residents that there will not be a rise.

Last year we set the Olympics council tax precept at 38p for the average London Council Tax Payer. It will remain at 38p next year and the year after and the year after that. When people see that it has not risen from 38p they will accept my firm guarantee that Londoners will not be asked to pay any more to fund the 2012 Games
."

Those of you with long memories may recall that Livingstone promised faithfully, when he stood for re-election as Mayor, that he would not raise congestion charges.

Once re-elected, he reneged on that promise and raised congestion charges.

Good luck to the people of Harrow, and London, if they really believe Livingstone's promises!

Friday, December 8, 2006

The True Cost of The Olympics

It is reported that Beijing intends to demolish 22 remaining "urban villages", which are home mainly to poor migrants, as it "cleans up" in readiness for the 2008 Olympic Games.

The villages will be demolished by the end of June 2007.

The destruction of the "urban villages" are part of the greening programme to "create a better environment for the Olympic Games".

Beijing denies that they are trying to force poor migrants out of the city before the Olympics.

Over the past 10 years, as Beijing maked ready to host the 2008 Games, many residents have accused developers of using violence to evict people unwilling to move.

Such is the price people have to pay, if they wish to host the Olympics. Sponsorship and advertising deals come before people's rights and liberties.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Barclays Boycotts Olympics

Barclays has withdrawn from sponsoring the 2012 London Olympics. This is rather ironic, as Barclays is housing the Olympic organising committee in its headquarters.

The sponsorship would have contributed to the currently expected costs of £2BN, needed to run the games themselves.

Barclays, which has loaned the organising committee £50M, was expected to have been among the leaders applying for main sponsorship places.

The winning sponsor, from the world of banking (sans Barclays) will be expected to put up £100M.

Had Barclays become a sponsor, it would have had the right to use Olympic rings in advertising, the right to associate itself with the games and personalities involved in them, and the right to advertise its name and logos at Olympic sites.

Despite what Tessa Jowell and the other Olympics organisers might try to claim, this withdrawal is undoubtedly a blow for the already shambolic Olympics.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Olympics Bill

Approximately 66% of Londoners believe that they will end up footing the bill for the 2012 London Olympics, as costs continue to spiral out of control.

That at least is the finding of a BBC poll, which showed that 65% of those questioned said that they thought that Londoners will end up paying for the additional costs.

The good people of Greece could tell the citizens of London a thing or two about budget overruns. They are expecting to continue to pay for the financial disaster of the 2004 Athens Olympics for many years to come.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Radiation Hazard At Olympic Site

Jack Lemley the ex head of the building programme for the London Olympics, who quit over budget issues, has ridiculed the Government's preparations for the 2012 Games.

Mr Lemley claims that Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and London Mayor Ken Livingstone repeatedly ignored his warnings that the budget for the event was spiralling out of control.

He also claims that his warnings over the chemical contamination of the Olympic sites were dismissed, because "all they wanted to hear was good news".

It is reported that Mr Lemley was forced to resign after he sent Tessa Jowell a letter warning that the construction of the Olympic sites faced such serious delays, that the Games might have to be scaled down.

Mr Lemley claims that:
  • He told the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, and Tessa Jowell before he was hired that there was a serious contamination problem at site chosen for the Games.


  • His warnings that the budget seriously under-estimated clean-up costs were ignored.


  • His agency was pressured to hide huge sums that should have been added to the budget.


  • The Government knew back in May that the Olympics faced an extra £1BN VAT bill, but hid the fact from the public.
Mr Lemley said he first saw a copy of a report by accountants KPMG in April/May:

"It said all the management costs were underestimated dramatically, by several hundred per cent. These numbers have been known for months by everybody and if Tessa Jowell hasn't told the Prime Minister, she wasn't doing her job. It's a swamp. There is misrepresentation of the situation."

On the subject of contamination Mr Lemley was equally outspoken:

"A blind man could see there was a huge environmental problem. I thought it was highly likely they underestimated. I talked to Tessa Jowell's senior people, Jeff Jacobs and his assistant, almost on a daily basis about this."

The question that we should be asking of our "respected" and "competent" government is why did they choose a site contaminated with scrapyards and hazardous waste from factories which produced items such as; soap, matches, ink, dyes, paraffin, rubber, creosote, fertiliser and varnish.

Seemingly there is even a radiation issue, plus a few unexploded bombs!

Quote:

"They now know there are drums of radioactive material buried at the site and they never had that in their estimates.

In the spring, I learned it was highly likely there was unexploded Second World War ordnance in the ground and I said: 'I'm not going to put a pile-driving crew out there with unexploded bombs.' I wanted trenches dug so people could understand what was going to have to be done to clean the ground up and then the contractors could price it
."

Mr Lemley found that his views were not welcome:

"At Olympic Board meetings, I was never invited to speak. Tessa attended with Ken Livingstone and Seb Coe and British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan. All they got was good news."

As I keep saying, politicians should never be entrusted with major projects. They are unskilled, inept, incompetent and venal; they are of little use to man nor beast.

On October 9 he sent a letter, repeating his concerns, to Jowell and copied it to Livingstone and Lord Coe.

Jowell refused to discuss its contents, and ordered him to resign.

The public, and the IOC, have been seriously misled by Labour over these increasingly expensive Games. Unfortunately it will be the public who carry the can for them, rather than the politicians who got us into this mess.

Friday, December 1, 2006

China Relaxes Rules

China has announced that it will relax some of its restrictions on foreign reporters. It says that it will allow foreign media greater freedom to travel and report in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The regulations will come into effect on 1 January 2007, and will temporarily abolish requirements that currently prohibit foreign reporters from traveling or conducting interviews without government approval.

The new rules state that only the consent of the interview subject is needed.

Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said:

"It is crystal clear that as long as the interviewee agrees, you can do your reporting."

Melinda Liu, president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China and Beijing bureau chief for Newsweek, said:

"In general, this is progress in terms of liberalizing the conditions under which foreign journalists work in China."

However, the new Olympic regulations contain loopholes and expire on October 17th 2008.

Liu, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said:

"Foreign journalists will not limit their activities to the Games themselves. They will also cover politics, science, technology and the economy.

The 'related matters' ... actually expands the areas on which foreign journalists can report
."

The question is, what will happen after the 17th of October 2008?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Over Budget and Overdue

In another example of the gross mismanagement and incompetence that is plaguing the organisation and planning of the 2012 London Olympics, the new plans for a "slimmed-down" Olympic aquatics centre have been unveiled that show a budget overrun of £25M and a completion date that is three years late.

When the designs were first submitted last year, Tessa Jowell, the Olympics minister, reportedly claimed that "a change in the specification had almost doubled the costs, which is simply unacceptable".

Despite that attempt to rein in the costs, the budget is still going to overrun by £25M.

To add to the Olympics misery Jack Lemley, the Olympics chief who resigned over the spiralling costs, accused Jowell of "mud slinging". This is based on reports that Jowell, whose husband faces criminal trial in Italy, secretly told MPs that Lemley was too sick to continue in his job.

Jowell had allegedly said that he had suffered a stroke and that he "fell asleep in meetings".

Lemley was in fact being treated for an irregular heartbeat, just like Tony Blair's "minor problem" in 2004.

When he resigned, Lemley said:

"The costs are going to go up on an exponential basis and I'm just not going to be part of that."

Jowell, needless to say has let it be known, via a spokesman, that she disputes Lemley's claim:

"We are not aware that she had any conversations in which she said what you are describing."

Politicians are not fit to run a brothel, let alone organise a multi billion pound event such as the Olympics.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rats in a Sack

It is a rare event indeed when I find myself agreeing with a Liberal Democrat. However, I am more than amused and in agreement with the description by Don Foster (Liberal Democrat Culture spokesman) of the politicians involved in the Olympics planning debacle as being like "rats in a sack"

A very fitting description indeed!

Foster has called upon the Labour Party to stop fighting "like rats in a sack" over the funding of the 2012 Olympics in London, and to "shut up" until the final budget is sorted out.

Hah! If only politicians could be made to shut up!

Foster's call came after a particularly shambolic week, in which Ken Livingstone (mayor of London) and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell publicly disagreed over the budget for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Foster has correctly identified that public confidence in the Olympics is "ebbing away", and that the country would face "serious difficulties" if the in-fighting didn't end soon.

Quote:

"This is nonsense arguing going on. We have got two different Government departments, we have got Ken Livingstone, we have got the Leader of the House, all acting like rats in a sack fighting each other. This isn't what it should be about".

Adding:

"Nobody knows where we stand and confidence in our ability to deliver the Olympics is sadly ebbing away when it is going to be absolutely fantastic. We should be celebrating it and I wish people frankly would shut up."

Quite rightly he is calling for a proper budget, which should be independently audited and presented to Parliament and the people. However, this budget should have been prepared and audited prior to the bid being put forward for the Games. That way we would have had a say as to whether we really wanted the Games or not, rather than having them foisted on us as a fait a compli.

As Foster says:

"If confidence ebbs away at the rate it is doing at the moment then I think we are in serious difficulties."

Never leave large scale projects in the hands of politicians, they are not capable of running them without allowing their own egotistical self interest to take priority.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Travellers Fight Olympics

As if the London 2012 Olympics did not have enough problems (including a budget that is out of control, and a site contaminated with toxic waste) it has now hit another hurdle.

Plans to move a group of Travellers, from Clays Lane Newham, to make way for the Olympics have come unstuck.

The Travellers who have lived on the same East London site for 35 years, part of an area designated for the Games, have been offered an alternative site. However, the site that they have been offered is one of the few green spaces in the area currently used for sport and recreation.

The Travellers and the residents have formed an alliance to fight the plans to move them on to what is being described by some as "a traffic island". Lawyers for the Travellers are threatening a judicial review, which would significantly delay any moves.

Tracie Giles, from one of 15 families, said:

"It's ridiculous. It's a local park."

Jonathan Green, a resident and chairman of a joint action group, said:

"Many of the houses and flats round here don't have gardens so it is the one green space they can go to."

It is clear that whoever did the planning for the 2012 Games either did not do a very thorough job, or assumed that "issues" such as this could just be bulldozed out of the way (as they are doing in China).

This bodes ill for the future/success of the 2012 Games.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Taxpayers Screwed

As befitting the arrogant incompetence of those who are mismanaging the London 2012 Olympics, Tessa Jowell (whose husband is facing criminal trial in Italy) broke the news to parliament yesterday that the Olympics costs were overrunning and that the taxpayer would be making up the shortfall.

Tessa Jowell, Secretary for Culture Media and Sport, finally had to come clean to the world that the costs were out of control.

Jowell, like all politicians, does not like being caught out; therefore it was a pleasure for many to see her squirm (one must take one's pleasure when one can).

However, this is small compensation for the fact that the British taxpayer (or rather more accurately the London taxpayer) will have to foot the bill for this unwanted white elephant.

Jowell said that she could not rule out funding the shortfall with a further raid on the National Lottery, or by increasing the contribution made by London's council-tax payers.

The original budget of £2.375bn has now been derided as a "fag packet" calculation, and Jowell conceded that the current figure is more like £3.3bn.

This figure is of course nonsense, as the real costs are likely to exceed £8BN.

Why do the organisers keep trying to hide the truth from people?

Answer: because they are incompetent and venal.

Jack Lemley knew the score when he resigned, he saw very clearly that the costs of clearing the toxic waste from the site selected to hold the Olympics would be astronomical.

Why did the organisers choose a toxic dump to hold the Olympics on?

Did they tell the IOC this when they made the bid?

Anyone care to spill the beans on that?

Jowell did her best to blame everyone and everything else for this shambles; rising costs on construction inflation, the doubling of steel prices and a revised figure for public transport links serving the Games site near Stratford. Rather oddly the the original bid figure did not include the £400M cost of hiring the international project management consortium CLM.

Jowell warned that there were further "potential liabilities"; the costs of Olympic security £1BN, the extent of a contingency fund within the budget and a VAT bill of £250M

None of these were in the original budget.

The fact remains a budget is meant to take into account all of the costs.

The organisers have failed, and should be removed from their positions of responsibility.

Whether that happens or not, it is clear that the taxpayers will be screwed as a result of this shambles.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Olympic Shambles

True to form, the 2012 London Olympics are now budgetarily out of control. The costs of holding this event are now expected to exceed £8BN, the original budget was for £2.4BN (it was then upgraded only last week to £5BN).

I warned of the dangers of spiraling costs last week, but never expected them to rise by over 50% again in less than a week.

To add to the shambles it is reported that Jack Lemley, the ex CEO of the Olympic Delivery Authority, resigned because of his worries over the budget. Specifically he feared that the cost of decontaminating the land, on which the Olympics will be held, will run out of control; he aslo feared that deadlines to decontaminate the land will be missed.

Mr Lemley also has sharply rebuked Mayor Ken Livingstone for alleging that Lemley resigned owing to health reasons, and a "major heart operation".

Mr Lemley stated that the operation was not major, and that he is extremely fit.

The one thing that we can all be sure of is that the costs of the fiasco will keep rising, and that the politicians such as Livingstone and Jowell (Culture Secretary) will do their best to avoid the blame.

Never allow politicians to take charge of major projects.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

London Olympics Bill Soars

As predicted on this site, the bill for the London 2012 Olympics is already way out of control.

The bill is now expect to be above £5BN, the original budget of £3.4BN has been thrown away.

Many excuses have been given for this appalling lack of cost control, and poor budgeting; extra security costs, an unforeseen VAT bill and private Treasury predictions of enormous cost overruns.

However, the overriding reason is clear; never, ever trust politicians to prepare accurate budgets or control costs. They are incapable, especially when the costs and budgets relate to an ego boosting extravaganza such as the Olympics.

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, claims that council taxpayers in London should not have to contribute more than the £625M already pledged. He would say that, and it should be remembered that he promised faithfully not to increase the congestion charge; a promise he promptly reneged on, once he was re-elected to office.

The lesson?

Don't trust politicians.

A new Olympics cost estimate is being worked out between Olympic project managers, the Treasury and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Needless to say this will be reviewed in the fullness of time as well.

The Chancellor's officials are so scared about the prospect of further budgetary disaster, that they are insisting on a contingency fund of 60% of the estimated £1BN building costs.

Hugh Robertson, the Tory spokesman, said:

"This is a story of monumental incompetence."

Jack Lemley, the American engineer who quit as chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), raised the alarm the other week when he cited political interference and cost overruns as the reason for his unexpected departure.

As expected, this will be a shambles.

Sensible countries should do all they can to avoid hosting the Olympics, they are nothing but trouble and a waste time and money.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

London Struggles

London politicians will meet today, in special session, to debate the financial health of the London 2012 Olympics games.

The special meeting has been arranged as a result of claims from the former chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, Jack Lemley, that London will struggle to come in on time and on budget.

Mr Lemley resigned from his Olympics post recently, due to his fears that the Olympics would fail.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Olympics Bill Soars

The costs of the 2012 Olympics in London are already rising well beyond those originally budgeted for, not helped by the fact that the VAT element had been conveniently "forgotten" by those who put together the original budget.

It is now feared that these rising costs could have a damaging impact on the national lottery's ability to fund good causes.

John Whittingdale, a Tory MP who chairs the culture, media and sport select committee, said:

"The lack of clarity over the Olympic budget is of considerable concern. It is all very murky - the status of the regeneration budget is unclear and the question of VAT on construction work has not been clarified.

The impact on traditional lottery good causes could be horrendous. It is ringing all kinds of alarm bells at every lottery distributor
."

Negotiations are taking place between the Treasury and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to provide new funds for the games.

The long suffering tax payers of London are expected to foot some of the bill, even though they weren't consulted in the first place as to whether they wanted the Olympics.

Additional funding will also come from the national lottery. On the existing budget the lottery has to raise £1.5BN.

Mr Whittingdale said:

"The Olympic lottery games have already top-sliced a lot of money from the main game to the Olympics; if it is top-sliced even more, it will mean further hits to the distribution bodies."

A culture department spokesman said:

"It has always been the case that the lottery would be a major part of the funding package. The Olympics present a fantastic opportunity to get people taking up sport, and [for] regenerating an area."

As ever it will be the tax payer who has to fund the ambitions of politicians.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The Olympian Tax Bill

As ever with Olympic projects, never ever trust the original budget submitted by those keen to win public support for hosting the Games.

The 2012 London Olympics are no such exception, as it turns out that some £250M in VAT payments were "forgotten" in the original budget submission.

Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary whose separated husband faces trial in Italy for fraud, came clean to the Commons and said that London's initial budget did not include the 17.5% cost of VAT on the construction of the venues and infrastructure.

The Treasury, never knowingly shortchanged on tax revenue, needless to say offers no hope of reprieve from this humiliation for the Olympic planners; it claims that its hands are tied by European law, and that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) will have to pay the additional tax bill.

However, Hugh Robertson the shadow sports spokesman said that he had been given a personal "cast iron assurance" about six months ago by Ms Jowell in a corridor of the House of Commons that VAT would be waived on building the Olympic facilities.

Never ever trust Olympic budgets!

Ms Jowell claims that London's bid documents did not include VAT on the construction of venues for 2012, because the ODA had not been established and its legal status could not be anticipated.

Ever heard of contingency budgets Tessa?

In true weasel style, so typical of a politician, she then attempted to avoid responsibility by claiming that London's plans had been endorsed by a cross-government group and issues in relation to VAT were not identified as an issue at that point by the Treasury or by departmental accounting officers.

Mr Robertson said:

"The government is the author of its own problems by not being clear and transparent about the costs of the Olympics. The DCMS thought it had an agreement with the Treasury, but Gordon Brown played hardball and it unravelled. I am sure a solution will be found, but only after causing damage to the Olympic games. It is not doing the Olympic process any good."

Don't trust Olympic budgets, or the politicians who put them together.

Monday, October 30, 2006

More Doping Tests

The IOC are increasing their precautions against doping in the forthcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics. Athletes will face more testing for performance enhancing drugs at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with a 25% increase in the number of tests to be conducted.

The IOC said that the number of tests would be raised to 4,500 in 2008, 25% more than in 2004 Athens Games, "as part of its zero-tolerance approach to fighting doping."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cars and Trucks To Be Banned

Kevan Gosper, Vice-Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the Beijing Olympics, has claimed that Beijing is prepared to stop private cars and trucks from driving and to shut down industry, if that's what is needed to cut pollution during the 2008 Beijing Games.

The joys of a one party state!

When pressed in the interview, on political issues such as Falun Gong, he adopted the ostrich position of head in the sand. As noted the Olympics is about money, not sport.

To read the interview visit ABC.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Waste of Time and Money

It seems, not surprisingly, that the 2012 London Olympics will be a waste of time and money. That at least is the opinion of Brigid Simmonds, chairman of the Central Council for Physical Recreation.

She was giving evidence yesterday to the Olympics hearing held by Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sports.

Quote:

"It will be a long sunrise and a very short sunset."

She said that the Olympics do not automatically produce a "trickle down" effect:

"There is no evidence that [previous] Olympic Games have increased long-term participation in sport."

Adding that unless urgent action was taken to tackle the question of legacy, it would not happen after 2012.

Simmonds noted that Sport England would be funding the aquatics centre and the velodrome (cost £340M). However, the cost of these projects would mean that other sports would lose two years of lottery funding; Sport England was not being given extra resources.

One MP said:

"This is very depressing."

The Olympic Lottery Distributor had raised issues during the hearing. It said that due to organisational problems, it may have to delay making payments to the Olympic authorities.

David Higgins, chief executive of he Olympic Development Authority, told MPs it had been agreed that the Olympic stadium would have temporary seating for 80,000 spectators, which would fall to 25,000 in legacy mode for athletics.

Higgins was repeatedly pressed on the question of rising construction costs, currently budgeted at £2.375BN.

Higgins, in response, chose to speak instead about the cost of regeneration:

"We could do a very superficial regeneration but it is not a responsible thing to do."

In other words he didn't answer the question, he knows full well that the costs will rise.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Beijing Works on Olympics Air Quality

The Chinese authorities are setting up special working groups in Beijing, and four surrounding regions, to ensure good air quality during the 2008 Olympics.

The groups will be set up in Beijing, Shanxi, Tianjin, Hebei and Inner Mongolia.

Zhang Lijun, deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, said that they would look for new ways to deal with air pollution so as to ensure good air quality during the 2008 Olympics.

it is hoped that research, currently being conducted, will result in new measures to ensure good air quality during the games.

Pei Chenghu, deputy director of Beijing Environmental Protection Administration, said that pollution in Beijing is a problem for the region, and improving air quality must involve the entire region.

Local statistics show that by the end of August, Beijing had 166 'blue sky' days, 72 days short of its target for the year.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Education, Not Money, At The Heart of The Olympics

It seems that my sometimes cynical remarks about money being the driving force of the Olympics are wrong, that is at least the belief of Jacques Rogge president of the International Olympics Committee (IOC).

Rogge, who was opening the World Forum on Sport Education and Culture in Beijing, said that education remained at the heart of the Olympic movement with millions of Chinese youngsters now being introduced to its values.

Rogge noted that the IOC had a duty to educate the world's youth on matters such as doping and even some not directly related to sport, such as HIV prevention.

Quote:

"The goal of the Olympic movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced in the spirit of Olympism.

I am particularly pleased that this effort is being continued right now in China and that millions of young Chinese ...are being introduced to the strength and power of the Olympic values such as friendship, excellence and respect
."

Liu Qi, head of the Beijing Organising Committee (BOCOG), said that the exposure of China to the rest of the world in 2008 would be an education in itself.

Quote:

"Through the staging of the Olympic Games, we are willing to further reinforce the exchange with international friends and accelerate the development of China and Beijing to leave a precious legacy to China and world sports."

Rogge went on to warn about the dangers of drugs:

"Scientists and doctors who contribute to unethical behavior through the misuse of drugs must be stigmatised.

That can be considered another form of education.

In conjunction with BOCOG, the IOC intend to make the Beijing Olympics a festival of harmony and peace, education and culture and above all of sporting perfection.
"

We shall see.

Friday, October 20, 2006

London Olympics "Huge Target"

The 2012 London Olympics will be a huge terrorist target, according to Scotland Yard chief Sir Ian Blair.

His comments came hot on the heels of reports that counter-terrorist officials have stated that Britain is now the prime target for a resurgent, and more structured, al Qaeda.

Sir Ian said:

"There can be no doubt that the 2012 Games -- if the current threat scenario stays the same -- will be a huge target, and we have to understand that and work on that basis."

Preparations are already well underway, with a team of officers working full-time on security.

The day after London was awarded the Olympics on the 6th of July 2006, four British Islamist suicide bombers blew themselves up on London's transport network, killing 52 people.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jack Lemley Quits London Olympics

Jack Lemley, the US businessman who is chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority responsible for the London 2012 Olympics, has quit his post.

This is a blow to the Games, as he had promised to see through London's preparations for the 2012 Olympics.

The Olympic Delivery Authority was set up by the Government to build the venues and infrastructure necessary for the Games.

It is assumed that the Olympics organisers are "pissed off" with Lemley's decision to quit. It is not clear as to why he has suddenly decided to go. However, it is well known that plans for the development of the Olympic stadium have been dogged by bitter rows between Richard Caborn, the sports minister, and Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London.

Livingstone insists the stadium should be a temporary 80,000 seat arena which can be scaled back to a 25,000 seat athletics ground after the Games, whilst Caborn wants the stadium to be converted into a football stadium which could be used by West Ham.

Lemley had a four year contract (2006-2010). He cites business reasons, and the need to concentrate on his US construction interests for his decision.

Quote:

"I am keen to return to the helm of my international construction consulting firm in America, which is increasingly busy with major contracts. I have every confidence that London will stage a superb Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 and leave a legacy that the country can be proud of."

Olympics minister Tessa Jowell said:

"Jack has played a significant role in getting us to this point and helping ensure that Games and legacy are planned together. I am grateful to him for all he has done and wish him well in the future."

The search is now on for a replacement.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Successful Dress Rehearsal

China is attending the world gymnastics championships in Aarhus, Denmark. It's goal, apart from winning, is to show that it is the leading Olympic nation as it readies itself for the Beijing Olympics 2008.

The Chinese male team got off to a flying start yesterday and won the team title, beating Russia, Japan and the USA.

Yang Wei said:

"This world championships was good practice for the Olympics and we feel we are now well prepared to take gold.

Now that we have established a good team, we don't want to stop here."


The women compete today.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Art and Culture

The second wave of culture and art consultants, for designing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, was announced at a ceremony in Beijing yesterday.

The guest list at the ceremony included; the Honorary President of the Chinese Olympic Committee and IOC member He Zhenliang, composer and educator Wu Zuqiang, and Academy Award winning filmmaker Ang Lee.

BOCOG President Liu Qi extended his congratulations to the new members of the consultant team, and expressed hopes that every consultant will provide valuable suggestions and advice to the organising team.

Monday, October 16, 2006

London Olympics Upset Muslims

As the old saying goes, you can never please everyone. The organisers of the London 2012 Olympics are discovering the veracity of this saying, as it has just been pointed out to them that the 2012 Games will clash with Ramadan, the most holy month in the Islamic calendar.

Some Muslims claim that this will mean that Muslim athletes will be at a disadvantage, as they fast from sunrise to sunset for the entire duration of the Games.

In 2012, Ramadan takes place from July 21 to August 20, while the Olympics run from July 27 to August 12.

Around 3,000 Muslim competitors are expected to be affected.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission, said:

"They would not have organised this at Christmas. It is equally stupid to organise it at Ramadan.

It shows a complete lack of awareness and sensitivity.

This is going to disadvantage the athletes and alienate the Asian communities by saying they don't matter.

It's not only going to affect the participants it's going to affect all the people who want to watch the Games.

They won't want to travel during Ramadan and they won't want to watch sport. It's a spiritual time
."

Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, an imam on the Muslim Council of Great Britain, rather wisely pointed out there will doubtless be a sensible solution:

"I'm sure the athletes will seek advice from their scholars.

They are obviously going to be at a disadvantage because other competitors will be drinking and keeping up their energy levels.

But they are athletes and I am sure they will train their bodies to cope with this.

A Muslim might feel it would have been nice to avoid this month but life doesn't stop for Muslims during Ramadan even though they are fasting.

The best thing for a Muslim is to continue his or her life as normal. This is the real test
."

Muslim countries, such as Turkey, are calling for the date to be changed.

Joanna Manning Cooper, spokeswoman for London 2012, said:

"We are working with the Muslim Council of Great Britain to find ways to accommodate Ramadan during the London Games."

Britain and the world is not Muslim, it is not for the world to change it's plans to suit Islam or any other religion.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Frugal Olympics

With the 2008 Olympics in Beijing being less than two years away, and costs mounting, the organisers are looking for ways to exert greater cost control.

The Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) held a seminar on Monday to further emphasise the principle of "frugal Olympics", as laid down by the central government.

The committee's executive vice-president, Liu Jingming, said that they will invite experts to review the budgets in order to look for cost savings and to prevent corruption.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Burger Off!

Proving yet again that the Olympics is about money and sponsorship, not about sport, the British Olympic Organising Committee have landed themselves in an embarrassing situation with regard to one of the sponsors (McDonald's) for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Green Party is demanding to know how McDonald's, the burger chain, fits in with promises to promote locally grown food. It should also be noted that the British government is currently conducting a very assertive healthy eating/anti obesity campaign in the UK, as such some people could argue that to associate itself with a promoter of fast food is a tad hypocritical.

The London organising committee, needless to say, are insisting that McDonald's would not have any exclusive control over catering and would be just one of a range of outlets supplying food.

Rather laughably McDonald's is the "official restaurant" (how on earth can anyone describe McDonald's as a restaurant?) of the Games, as a result of a long-term deal with the International Olympic Committee.

Money first, health and sport second!

Monday, October 9, 2006

A Stonking Investment

In what can only be described as a "stonkingly large" investment, China has stated that it will invest $59.5BN in Beijing infrastructure during the 2006-2010 period.

The money will be spent on 2,400 construction and upgrading projects. The projects to ease city traffic, improve energy and water supply and improve the city environment will be completed before start of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Beijing plans to have a state of the art international air service hub by 2008, which will be able to process 60 million passengers a year.

Beijing will also expand parking lots, and ensure that there will be a parking place for each motor vehicle in the coming five years. Beijing now has approximately 2.8 million motor vehicles but only 1.4-1.5 million parking places.

The Taiyanggong gas-firing thermal power plant will have been built by 2008, and heating pipes laid for the Olympic gymnasiums and surrounding areas. Electricity transmission projects for the areas will be completed, and construction will be speeded up on the Beijing section of the south-to-north water diversion program.

Beijing also intends to clean up rivers and lakes, and to improve the water quality.

Ambitious plans indeed.

Can the environment and the econmy afford them?

Friday, October 6, 2006

Auditors To Check The Books

The Department of Canadian Heritage is hiring an auditor to check the 2010 Winter Olympics organising committee's (VANOC) books.

The audit is aimed at providing the department's Olympic secretariat with the assurance that VANOC, has adequate and effective management controls, risk-management frameworks and overall governance structures.

It also wants to ensure that money provided was used for the intended purpose, and recommend improvements in the way the committee and the department manage the venture.

In August, Partnerships B.C., part of the Ministry of Economic Development that oversees the Olympics, released a due diligence report that queried VANOC's approach to budgeting and recommended changes.

However, the head of the Vancouver Olympic Organising Committee says there's nothing unusual in Ottawa's plan to look at spending for 2010 Olympic preparations.

John Furlong, the committee's CEO, said such reviews are expected and done regularly by Ottawa and the B.C. government.

He says the audit will only look at how the federal government's part of the Olympic construction budget is being spent.

Nonetheless the federal government recently added another $55M towards Games venue construction, with a warning that it would be the last contribution.

Maybe they are worried about how the money is being spent?

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Football Nationalism

Plans by Olympic chiefs to push ahead with a British soccer team for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics may well fall into disarray, as both Scotland and Wales kick up a fuss over losing their national identities on the field.

The Football Associations of Wales and Scotland boycotted a British Olympics Association meeting last week. In their absence, it was agreed to enter a British women's team in 2008 and men's and women's in 2012.

The Welsh and Scottish FAs are worried that it may set a precedent for all-British teams in the World Cup and European Championship.

Welsh Culture Minister Alun Pugh said:

"I would be concerned at any steps that could lead to the eventual abolition of the FAW as a national association and having a British team participating in football World Cups and European Championships."

Does it really matter?

Monday, October 2, 2006

Carry on Cruising

The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) for the 2010 Winter Olympics have managed to upset the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who were a tad dismissive of VOC's suggestion for journalistic accommodation for the Winter Games 2010.

VANOC suggested that a cruise ship village in Squamish, at the head of Howe Sound, 54 kilometres from Whistler, be used to accommodate some of the 10,000 media representatives who are expected at the Winter Games.

The plan was dismissed by the IOC as being "inappropriate."

IOC press commission chairman, Kevan Gosper, said:

"Let's say the idea was firmly and politely rejected. Whilst a cruise ship may be suitable for tourists and corporates, we don't think it was an appropriate option for as important a working group as the press."

VANOC are reportedly going to try to persuade the IOC to change their mind.

Friday, September 29, 2006

China Curtails Media Freedoms

China, earlier this week in Beijing, unveiled its plans for the coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Liu Qi, mayor of Beijing and president of the organising Committee BOCOG, and Sun Weijia, Olympics Press Chief revealed that China would ban material about human rights violations.

A list of banned items was also produced, which may not be brought into China, including "print products and CD-ROMs which are harmful to China's politics, economy and culture."

Needless to say, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) press commission chief, Kevan Gosper, has asked journalists "to respect the conditions and rules" in place in China.

Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign said:

"The IOC's infamous pledge that giving the Games to China would improve the human rights situation there in the run up to the 2008 Games is in ruins.

In 2002 Jacques Rogge said he would act if China failed to protect rights to his satisfaction in the run up to the Games. Instead, Mr Gosper's latest statement suggests the IOC is colluding with China in preventing journalists from covering China's ongoing and serious human rights violations in China and Tibet, a key component of the overall coverage of the Beijing 2008 Games.

It is particularly damaging that the IOC should encourage journalists to censor themselves precisely at the time when China is cracking down on the ability of domestic and foreign journalists to report sensitive news in China
."

The Foreign Correspondents Club in Beijing has received reports of 72 incidents of harassment of journalists from 15 countries, over the last year.

Notwithstanding the above, it is safe to assume that the IOC will not act to destabilise the 2008 Games, so long as they get the sponsorship deals.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Olympic Expulsions

It is reported that China intends to expel migrant workers during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Needless to say, the Chinese authorities have denied this report and have "spun" the denial by saying that Beijing is looking into how to keep the "mentally ill" from "damaging the public interest" during the games.

That's an interesting way of denying the story.

This story comes amidst promises from China that hosting the Olympics will improve respect for human rights.

The Beijing Morning Post raised the expulsion issue earlier this month, by saying that many of the 1 million migrant workers in Beijing from other parts of China would be expelled before the games.

Zhou Jidong, head of Beijing's legal department, denied it and said in relation to the mentally ill issue:

"We are now studying the issue.

The city government plans to ask the municipal (council) to make a law about psychiatric health regulations aimed at providing mental health treatment and preventing mentally ill people from damaging the public interest
."

The IOC will of course not intervene in this, as long as they make a good living from the sponsorship deals that the Olympics brings in.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Amnesty Question China's Human Rights

Amnesty International claim that China's human rights record, in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has deteriorated.

Amnesty allege that thousands of people are being executed after unfair trials.

Amnesty have sent their findings to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and said that Chinese authorities would have to act quickly if they were to fulfill their pledges to improve human rights.

Catherine Baber, of Amnesty, said:

"The serious human rights abuses that continue to be reported every day across the country fly in the face of the promises the Chinese government made when it was bidding for the Olympics.

Gleaming stadiums and spectacular parades will be worthless if journalists and human rights activists cannot speak out freely, if people are still being tortured in prison or if the government continues its secrecy about the thousands of people executed
."

There has been a renewed crackdown on journalists and Internet users in the past year, according to Amnesty. Amnesty are of the opinion that the promises made for media freedom are false.

Amnesty also said that activists, including those working with residents forcibly evicted from buildings on Olympic construction sites, have been harassed and imprisoned.

Corinna-Barbara Francis, a China researcher for Amnesty International said:

"We try to remain optimistic but right now we are concerned as we are not seeing the progress we had hoped for.

China is a growing world power. They are more in the spotlight.

But we have certainly been disappointed given the expectations we had and the promises made by the Chinese authorities
."

I guarantee that no matter what Amnesty say, the IOC will go ahead with the games in China; far too much money is at stake, for issues such as freedom to get in the way.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Living Wage

What constitutes a living wage?

The campaigners for a Living Wage say that it is £7.05 per hour, and claim that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) have reneged on a deal with the London Citizens Alliance to offer that rate (or the equivalent) during the London Olympics 2012.

ODA claim that it has stood by the deal in which it promised to encourage contractors to pay a living wage.

The ODA agreement said:

"We recognise the contribution that the London living wage can play in enabling us to deliver our regenerative aspirations.

We will monitor whether this is delivered
."

The campaigners for a "living wage" will stage a protest outside of the London Chamber of Commerce in the City.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Drug Free Olympics

China is pulling out all the stops to crack down on an endemic drug problem, that is gripping the nightclubs and bars of Beijing and other major cities.

Ecstasy use is now rife in clubs and bars, and the Chinese authorities want to be rid of the problem of "recreational drugs" by the time the 2008 Olympics are under way in Beijing.

As such club and bar owners are being trained to look out for drug use, ectasy is known as the "head shaking" drug, by videos and lectures.

Now if only the athletes competing in the Games could be made drug free as well, then the Olympics might actually gain some credibility.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Forecasting The 2008 Beijing Olympics

It is reported that China is working on improving its weather forecasting systems, in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It is even speculated that there will be a separate forecast for every street in Beijing, when the Summer Games open in 2008.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Definition of Freedom

In an earlier article on this site a few days ago, I noted that Tessa Jowell (Britain's Olympics Minister) when visiting Beijing gushed that she had received a positive response when she raised the issue of press freedom with her counterpart Mr Liu.

Quote:

"He gave me a clear assurance that he would support unimpeded movement of accredited and non-accredited journalists to report not just on the Games but on China."

Seemingly she was talking bollocks.

Beijing activists are up in arms about China's proposed new controls on foreign news agencies, which give the government's Xinhua News Agency control over distribution within China of news, information and other services from foreign agencies. Xinhua said it would delete items deemed to violate national unity or social stability.

These new controls quite clearly fly in the face of what Jowell was claiming only a few days ago.

Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, said in a statement:

"These measures are an authoritarian attempt to control news and information dissemination and the access of China's users to uncensored news and information."

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement:

"These new regulations on the distribution of foreign news are a step backward."

Hom said that the new regulations would deprive Chinese society of information needed to address corruption and social problems.

A Paris based group, Reporters Without Borders, said that the regulations might violate China's commitments to the World Trade Organisation.

The European Union said that it would take them up at human rights talks with China in October.

So much for the words and promises of Jowell!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Shortage of Olympic Doctors

Despite the fact that the 2012 London Olympics are still 6 years away, doctors are warning that the UK has too few specialist doctors in sports and exercise medicine to be able to cope with the injuries that could occur at the 2012 Olympics.

Charles Galasko, of the Royal College of Physicians, said that 30 specialists would be needed. Currently there are only 3 specialists in the UK at the moment.

It seems that whilst doctors in other specialist fields, such as orthopaedics, treat sports injuries, they do not have the all-round expertise needed.

Quote:

"The orthopaedic surgeon can deal with the ankle injury but would not necessarily be in a position to deal with an abdominal injury that may have occurred at the same time."

I am sure that this is an unnecessary concern, as the competitors will doubtless bring their own specialists with them in their entourages.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Press Freedom At The 2008 Olympics

The Beijing 2008 Olympics organisers have promised that the media will be allowed to move freely around China.

That at least is what Britain's minister for culture media and sport, Tessa Jowell, is saying.

The promise has been given by Liu Qi, the head of the organising committee. In the event that the promise is honoured, it would mean a drastic change in the current restrictions imposed on journalists in China. Correspondents are frequently detained by police, and sent back to Beijing when they try to cover sensitive stories in the provinces.

Jowell, who is visiting Beijing as UK Olympic minister, claims that she received a positive response when she raised the issue with her counterpart, Mr Liu.

Quote:

"He gave me a clear assurance that he would support unimpeded movement of accredited and non-accredited journalists to report not just on the Games but on China."

As with all political promises, parts of it are unclear; eg whether this new openness would apply only for the duration of the Olympics, or be permanent.

Jowell went on to say:

"I believe that once we establish freedom in this way, even after the delegates and the athletes have gone home, China won't reverse it and the Games will have a lasting legacy of opening China to the world."

The proof of the pudding, as the old saying goes, is in the eating.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Bird's Nest Ready

China has completed the stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

The Bird's Nest can hold 91,000 spectators, and is made of approximately 22 miles of unwrapped steel, weighing 42,000 tons, that has been welded into a crisscross shape to resemble twigs in a bird's nest.

It measures approximately 1,052 ft. long by 731 ft. wide by 226 ft. high.

It was designed by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron with the assistance of Ai Weiwei, one of China's leading modern artists.

The cost was around $500M.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Olympic Volunteers

The Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympics have officially launched a recruiting drive for 100,000 volunteers.

The Committee said that 70,000 helpers would serve at the Olympics, and 30,000 at the Paralympics.

International Olympic Committee president, Jacques Rogge, said:

"An Olympic Games stands no chance of success without a team of well-trained volunteers and high-standard voluntary services."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Zara Phillips Goes For Gold

Following on from her victory in the World Equestrian Games Sunday, Zara Phillips the Queen's granddaughter is setting her sights on gold in the 2008 Olympics.

Phillips said that winning had been beyond her wildest dreams, she is the first British winner since 1986.

Quote:

"It's been a massive dream but you have to get everything right leading up to it, and have the horse power. It's still two years to go. Horses get injured, so it's a long way away.

Winning was an awesome experience - beyond my wildest dreams
."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Beijing Olympics Go Mobile

China is ensuring that the 2008 Olympics in Beijing fully embrace the digital age, by broadcasting them on mobile phones.

The will start testing mobile TV services using DMB in the middle of 2007.

China's State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), said that transmission of TV signals to mobiles would be tested in mid 2007, and the satellite system activated in the first half of 2008.

China Mobile and China Unicom, major players in the Chinese market, are expected to sign agreements at the end of the month with mobile phone makers to buy TV handsets.

Big-screen PDAs and MP4 players will also be able to receive TV signals.

China has over 400 million mobile phone users, increasing by 5 million a month, according to the Ministry of Information Technology.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Heraldry Olympics

St Andrews in Scotland is hosting the Olympics of genealogy and heraldry this week.

The the international event was officially opened by its patron, HRH The Princess Royal.

Around 300 heraldic experts and aficionados from across the globe have gathered in what is the greatest single gathering of heralds since the Middle Ages.

Delegates and heralds have come from 26 countries including; South Africa, Russia, Canada, Spain and Norway.

To mark the event, the Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland, Robin Blair, has granted supporters (Saint Andrew and a lion) and a crest to the university to add to its arms.

The university and the Burgh of St Andrews was presented with keepsakes in the form of specially created heraldic processional banners, 'gonfannons', which were blessed by The Bishop of Edinburgh and presented during the opening ceremony.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Beijing Runway Trials

Beijing's Capital Airport will test its three runways this coming October, in the configuration designed for the 2008 Olympic Games.

The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) said that it had signed a contract with the Boeing Company to conduct a study of the operating mode for the three runways, using Atlanta International Airport as a comparison.

After six months of trial operation, the three runways, two old ones and the newly constructed one, will begin official operation in May 2008.

Computer simulation modeling and analysis will maximise the efficient operation of the three runways.

Under CAAC's air traffic control plan for the 2008 Olympic Games, the Capital Airport will upgrade its existing facilities and build two new radar navigators and a series of signal processing systems for communication and weather observation.

The Capital Airport is being expanded to cope with rising passenger volumes, and the inflow of tourists expected for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Anti Terror Training

Chinese State Councilor Zhou Yongkang has called for the strengthening of anti-terrorism training for security guards, in order to ensure the safety of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Quote:

"As the international security situation is very complicated, anti-terrorism efforts are of great importance to the safety of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games."

He has asked for the establishment of a system to ensure a quick response to terrorist emergencies. Additionally he has noted that all the security guards must be given anti-terrorism training courses, and that the Olympic stadiums' security facilities must be improved.

Finally, he has called for China's Exit and Entry Administration to improve their anti-terrorism capabilities prior to the Games, and for intelligence on terrorist activities to be intensified.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

China Educates The Uncouth

As the 2008 Beijing Olympics draws ever near, the authorities in China are aware of the PR and image issues associated with the Games. Specifically, they are focusing their attention on the impression that their own citizens make on the rest of the world. After all, the best/worst ambassadors for a country are usually its own citizens.

As such the Spiritual Civilisation Steering Committee, the Chinese etiquette watchdog, has launched an education campaign to correct the embarrassing habits of Chinese tourists at home and abroad.

The Committee's "Campaign to Promote Civilised Chinese Travellers" will last until after the Olympic Games.

The Committee states:

"Currently, the behaviour of our country's tourists is not compatible with the rapid development of the tourist industry, nor with China's international standing."

The official Xinhua news agency has already quoted Singapore media reports of airline and hotel staff complaining about Chinese tourists spitting, talking loudly and being rude. That being said, Singapore has very high standards indeed with respect to behaviour in public.

The committee has highlighted a number of areas of concern including; appearance, hygiene, courtesy, the law, the environment and public infrastructure, as damaging "the image of China as a civilised country" and generating "widespread attention and criticism domestically and overseas."

The China Daily said:

"Many tourists clear their throats loudly and spit, take off shoes aboard planes and trains, squat and smoke in public places, and often appear uncouth."

Civil servants and state company executives will be targeted for training, the general public will be educated via the media and pamphlets distributed at public transport stations, hotels, travel agencies, tourist spots, schools and work places.

I would venture to suggest that other countries could also benefit from applying such an education programme.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Foretaste of 2008

There is a foretaste being provided this week for those people keen to see what the 2008 Olympics in Beijing may be like, as Beijing hosts the 11th IAAF World Junior Championships.

1,400 athletes from 182 countries will compete in track and field events at the Chaoyang Sports Centre in Beijing. The competition kicks off today, and runs until Sunday.

Beijing is using the event as a dry run for the 2008 Summer Games.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Free Press For The Beijing Olympics 2008

The Chinese have announced that China will guarantee the freedom of foreign journalists to cover news in China during the games.

Jiang Xiaoyu, Executive Vice-President of the Beijing Olympic Committee, said that Beijing has:

"..made a solemn promise to provide the service necessary for the media during the Olympic Games.

If there is any conflict between the Chinese media rules and those of international practice, China will follow the International Olympic Committee (IOC) guidelines as well as the established norms of international practice
."

Liu Qi, President of the Beijing Olympics Organising Committee, last September also made a similar undertaking.

Jiang stated that all foreign journalists, not just those who are accredited by the IOC, will enjoy free access to news coverage during the Olympic Games.

However, he noted that foreign journalists need to abide by Chinese rules and understand the "national conditions" of China.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Beijing Environmental Standards

The Chinese state that they expect that Beijing will meet environmental standards for clean air for athletes in the 2008 Olympic Games.

Beijing expects to keep sulphur dioxide levels down to an acceptable level for over half of the year, which would allow the air to meet an international standard of "moderate" or better.

Unfortunately China uses coal as its primary source of energy, this makes it the world's largest producer of sulfur dioxide pollution. Add in the construction sites and car pollution, and the ability to meet this target comes into question.

That being said it is more than likely that, if required, there will be some form of political "fudge" to enable the Games to go ahead.

Money comes first.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Olympic Failure

Following on in the true spirit of the Games, ie it's the money not the sport that counts, over a dozen government officials and executives from major property and construction companies have been detained/questioned by Chinese officials as they investigate Liu Zhihua the ex vice mayor of Beijing responsible for 2008 Olympic projects.

Liu Zhihua oversaw much of the $40BN being spent on the Beijing Olympics. This means that many people are very nervous as to what will be uncovered.

Liu was dismissed in early June for corrupt acts, there is also an explicit six-hour videotape of Liu cavorting with prostitutes in Hong Kong that was sent to Chinese leaders.

Chinese leaders have told the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the Games would be a fine example of environmental protection, cultural preservation and government openness.

Unfortunately the reality is a little different.

In the rush to build the Olympic infrastructure vast swathes of old Beijing have been knocked down, despite the protest of the residents.

The air quality in Beijing is the worst in five years, leading many to question the city's development model.

Funny that the IOC remain silent on all of this?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Couch Potatoes

Beijing residents have said that TV will be the most important medium for them to experience the Beijing 2008 Olympics, followed by newspaper and radio.

Those are the survey results released by researchers from the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences (BASS).

Approximately 85% of those surveyed said they would watch the Games on TV, while 42% would use newspapers and 35% would listen to the radio.

Only 24% would go to the sports venues.

Over half of those surveyed, 52%, said that high prices would prohibit them from buying tickets to events.

The results are published in the book "The Social Development Report of China's Capital (2006)".

Monday, July 24, 2006

Brown's Olympic Woes

The 2012 London Olympic Games appear to be mired in controversy even though they are still six years away.

Gordon Brown, Chancellor of The Exchequer, is being held to account by MP's over allegations that he has held private meetings with Bechtel, a firm trying to win the right to build the Olympic Games site in east London.

Bechtel, a controversial US construction giant, is one of four groups hoping to win the multi-million-pound contract.

Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster has tabled questions over the issue in the Commons, which are due to be answered today.

The Treasury admitted that it is overseeing the Olympic procurement process.

Foster said:

"There is now clear evidence that the Treasury is going to be involved in the decision over who is the main contractor for the London 2012 Olympics.

In the light of John Prescott's dealings with Philip Anschutz, it is even more vital that the Treasury admits whether it has met with any companies or representatives of those vying to become the 2012 delivery partner
."

Bechtel has been called by some "the working arm of the CIA". It was the first firm the US government turned to when it awarded contracts to rebuild Iraq. It is also the British government's favourite contractor, and has advised the Treasury on nuclear energy as well as working on the Channel Tunnel rail link, the Jubilee line and the West Coast Main Line rail upgrade.

Bechtel is currently tarnished by the costliest road project in American history - Boston's 'Big Dig' road tunnel - which this month was hit by the biggest scandal of its troubled history after a concrete roof collapsed, killing a woman.

Needless to say, the budget for the Games is spiralling out of control. It is likely that by the time the Games are held, the costs will exceed £10BN.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Six Kidnapped Officials Released

Gunmen who kidnapped 30 people from an Iraqi Olympics Committee meeting in Baghdad have released six.

Two sports officials, a former shooting champion and a retired soccer player, and four bodyguards are among those freed a day after being snatched.

However, the fate of the others remains unknown.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The cost of the London Olympic Games in 2012 will balloon from the budgeted £1.5BN, to an whopping £5BN. This being the result of reappraisals of facilities, costs and the proposals for redeveloping the Lea Valley, where the games are to be held.

This of course is merely the start of "budget creep", you can rest assured that by the time the Olympics are held the budget will have broken the £10BN level.

Politicians should never be allowed anywhere near a budget.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

The Olympics Lottery

The British lottery operator, Camelot, has announced that it will launch a new twice-weekly game to raise money for the 2012 London Olympics.

Tickets for the Dream Number game, priced at £1, will go on sale from July 13. Draws will take place on Saturdays and Wednesdays, alongside the main lottery game.

Camelot is hoping to raise £1.5BN, to help build stadia and the Olympic village.

Camelot will of course also make a profit out of this.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Olympics Party

One year on since winning the rights to host the 2012 Olympic Games, London will be holding a celebration party this Thursday in Trafalgar Square.

The party will kick off a national roadshow, aimed at generating interest in the Olympics and explaining the benefits of hosting the Games to the rest of the country.

People will get the chance to try out Olympic sports such as fencing, rowing, cycling, basketball, wheelchair basketball and sprinting.

Monday, July 3, 2006

London Olympics On Target

Lord Coe, head of the London 2012 Olympics, has insisted that everything is on target and that deadlines will be met.

This in spite of the ongoing Wembley stadium fiasco.

Well he would say that, wouldn't he?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Water Shortage Hits London Olympics

As unlikely as it seems, given the image of London as being fog bound and perpetually wet, the 2012 Olympic Games in London could be hit by water shortages.

That will be the case, unless Thames Water (the company that leaks/wastes vast quantities of water because it does not fix its pipes) gets its act together in time.

Labour MP Harry Cohen said that Thames Water's network lost 894 million litres a day, enough to fill 350 Olympic swimming pools.

Cohen said that the company's claim that it is doing all it can to tackle the problem was "a fib".

Quote:

"If we don't get this right, we will also have drought order restrictions in the lead up and during the 2012 Olympics and that would be to the detriment of those Games."

The good news is that Thames Water's profits leapt to £346M last year.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Danger UXB

Congratulations to Morrison and Edmund Nuttall, the two firms who have won the £200M contract for the demolition and clean up works on the 270 hectare site of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

There is a lot of work to do, the site has been blighted by decades of industrial use and is the largest patch of derelict and contaminated land in London.

There is also expected to be a large cache of unexploded bombs on the site, dropped by the Luftwaffe in the Second World War.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Corrupt Olympics

It is reported that the sacking of the vice-mayor of Beijing, Liu Zhihua, who oversaw the construction of Olympic venues for the 2008 Beijing has unleashed a wave of commentary about corruption and graft in the lead up to the 2008 Games.

Seemingly Liu was not shy of indulging his own passions and built a pleasure palace for himself, staffed by young concubines on the outskirts of Beijing.

Foreign companies trying to work on the Games are reporting a widespread culture of graft and corruption.

Liu was sacked after he demanded a bribe from a foreign businessman, for the sale of land in Zhongguancun. Liu then refused to hand over the land, despite having been paid off, the businessman then reported him to the authorities.

Beijing is proving to be a tad sensitive over the corruption allegations, and have shut down any websites that comment on them.

Liu may well face the death penalty, defraud the state of more than $500K and you are executed!

But what of his boss?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bad Morals Hit Olympics

Liu Zhihua, the Vice-Mayor of Beijing who was in charge of urban planning, construction and sports activities for the 2008 Olympics, has been fired for corruption and "bad morals".

The Beijing Municipal People's Congress removed him after finding him guilty of misdemeanors, his case will be further investigated.

Over 115,000 members of the Communist Party were punished in 2005, for corruption and other offences.

Regarding the great world "Bung Fest", that is currently being played out in Germany, Panorama dished the dirt on the corruption and bribery in FIFA last night; well worth watching if you have the opportunity.

I wonder if it is possible to hold an international sporting event without corruption and kickbacks?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bung Fest

If anyone is interested, the world "Bung Fest" has just started in Germany.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Cutbacks

It seems that the expected cost overruns of the 2012 London Olympics have spurred the organisers to try to cut back on some of their plans.

The revised blueprint for the Games include changes made to reduce the risk of the budget spiralling out of control, and to ensure that the local community benefits from facilities after the Games are over.

The plan for the Stratford site, is now based on a smaller area than originally envisaged with less ambitious landscaping.

Lord Coe said:

"We have a compact and exciting site which crucially works for the community after the games have gone."

Given the money shortage, more space has been allocated to corporate sponsors in the central part of the Olympic park They will be asked to cough up more sponsorship money for the Games.

The Olympic Delivery Authority claim that the changes were not primarily money motivated.

Well of course they are!

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

China Sows The Seeds of The Olympics

As part of its preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has turned its eyes towards the weather; it is very concerned that Beijing is enduring a 7 year drought and has been plagued by dust storms.

In order to fight back against the forces of nature, China will "seed" the clouds with rockets and chemical pellets to try to make it rain.

Not only will this, if it works, alleviate the drought, it will also clear the pollution.

It is in fact the tradition in Beijing to seed the clouds before public holidays.

As to whether it will work or not, only time will tell.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Beijing Cleans Up

As Beijing prepares to host the 2008 Olympic Games, it is making plans to clean up the city. Specifically it will try to eliminate drugs, prostitution and under-aged drinking in city bars and dance halls.

Venues will be rated A, B, or C following joint inspections carried out by city police, commerce and cultural authorities.

Vice police chief He Angang said:

"By the 2008 Olympic Games, the city's entertainment spots will be drug free, that is our goal."

If the Chinese manage this feat, they should tell the secret of their success to the rest of the world.

Oddly, the new rules will not affect bath houses and massage parlors.

Monday, June 5, 2006

The Duke of Edinburgh Vents His Spleen

The Duke of Edinburgh vented his spleen the other day, on the subject of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

He described the opening and closing ceremonies as "bloody nuisances", and called for them to be banned.

Warming to his theme, he said that the opening and closing ceremonies destroy the spirit of the games; it is about competition and not extravaganza.

Quote:

"They ought to be banned. They are a pain in the neck."

He also said that he hoped to do "as little as possible" during the 2012 Olympics in London, by which time he will be 91 years old.

I fully agree with the Duke, in fact I would go one stage further; ban the Games entirely, they are a complete waste of time and money and are most certainly nothing to do with good sportsmanship.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Distribution Deal Announced

ProLogis, a US provider of distribution facilities and services, has announced that an industrial park it is developing in China will be used as the main logistics and distribution centre for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

ProLogis Park Beijing Airport has been designated as the official distribution site for Olympics-related equipment and material by the Beijing Olympics Organising Committee.

The 100,332 square metre site will also be used for warehousing, light assembly and administration of logistics operations.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Beijing Drought

Beijing is currently suffering its worst drought in 50 years, and is likely to continue to face this problem when it hosts the 2008 Olympic Games.

Beijing is the driest major city in the world, with average water resources per person one-thirtieth of the world's , and faces a water shortage of 1.1 billion cubic metres in 2008.

Ma Weifang, a state environmental official, said that conservation could help ensure that the situation does not become critical.

One other headache for the authorities is a report that appeared on Tuesday in the state media, that said that the Yangtze river, which may well supply Beijing with emergency water during the Games, was "cancerous" with pollution and could die within five years.

The old adage, when abroad don't drink the water, springs to mind!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

China Bans Smoking

It seems that the anti smoking movement has even managed to score a success with one of the world's heaviest smoking nations, China.

It has been announced that for the duration of the Olympics, smoking will be banned; in the Olympic areas at least.

Beijing will ban smoking on public transport and indoor workplaces.

The Health Ministry said:

"Let a smokeless games provide healthy competition, a healthy environment and a healthy lifestyle."

The ministry said that facilities serving children would be the first to get a no-smoking ban.

Quite how they manage to enforce this in a nation of 350 smokers, will be anyone's guess!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Annan Visits Olympic Stadium

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his wife accompanied by Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympics visited the main stadium for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing yesterday.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Smog

Beijing is in the process of drawing up contingency plans to lessen its traffic and smog during the 2008 Olympics.

Jiang Xiaoyu, a vice president of the Beijing Olympic organising committee, said that the plans were needed to augment long-term strategies to improve road and air conditions and ensure that the Games were a success.

Lanes on some city roads will be designated for Olympic vehicles only, and cars will also be banned.

Jiang said:

"We're striving to achieve better air quality by the 2008 Games to welcome the athletes and the Olympic family."

Beijing's roads are often clogged with traffic, and a brown haze hangs in the air.

Ironically during the IOC inspectors' visit this week, there was a heavy sandstorm and the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau recorded severely polluted air in the capital.

Hein Verbruggen, the head of the IOC's coordination committee, ignored the pollution and (refering to the venue construction) said:

"You can't think of any other word than stunning."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pathetic!

There is one constant associated with the Olympics, that can always be guaranteed, namely that the costs originally budgeted will always be overshot.

It seems that the politicians and construction companies, that get their greedy little snouts into the Olympic trough, are simply not capable of telling the truth when it comes to budgets.

It should therefore come as no surprise to learn that the costs of the London 2012 Olympics are already spiraling out of control.

The British government admitted yesterday that the cost of staging the 2012 Olympics in London will be £500M more than stated in the original bid.

Pathetic!

The cost is now estimated to be around £2BN.

Seemingly the financial "wizards" who put together the budget forgot to allow for inflation from 2004 to 2102.

Again, pathetic!

Liberal Democrat spokesman, Vince Cable, said that it showed "total chaos" at the heart of the project.

Quote:

"How they got into such a complete muddle about an important part of the costing of the Games, why they got this so wrong, is a mystery."

Seemingly the London Olympic Organizing Committee (LOCOG), which is responsible for putting on the Games, were always aware that the costs would go up.

I wonder why they didn't mention it to anyone?

Needless to say, the organisers and politicians who saddled us with this unecessary waste of money are claiming that the extra costs will be covered by ticket sales and marketing rights.

Well they would say that, wouldn't they?

As sure as eggs are eggs, the eventual costs of these games will massively exceed the current estimate of £2BN.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Olympic War Breaks Out

Politicians are never shy when trying to claim credit for something, and attach their names to what they perceive will be a success; in truth they are seeking a monument to their personal and political ambitions.

The London Olympics in 2012 offers such a monument, and both the Tory and Labour Parties have been working hard to ensure that their names are associated with this event.

The Labour Party, under the guidance of Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, exploited the Olympics repeatedly in its local election campaign. She cited the Games in a campaign email, a speech and a party election broadcast.

Needless to say, the voting public were not so easily swayed, after all the Games are costing a small fortune in increased council taxes; Labour received a total "drubbing" in the polls.

Now the Tories are making vociferous complaints about the "betrayal" of the cross-party consensus on the Games, and the use by Labour of the Games for its own ends.

A cynic might observe that is now exactly what the Tories are doing, by making such vociferous complaints.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Tight Olympic Timetable

The timetable for the preparations for the London 2012 Olympics is "extremely tight", according to submissions made to the public inquiry into the compulsory purchase orders for land in Stratfod (the London site of the Games).

David Higgins, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), said that no building work could begin on the East London Olympic Park until all the land needed is in public control.

Many firms and residents are fighting eviction from the Lower Lea Valley. They fear that they are being ripped off, in the push to acquire the land.

Higgins said:

"There is a considerable amount of work to carry out, let alone work commencing on the major facilities.

The timetable is extremely tight, and for the facilities to be completed for commissioning and test events from mid-2011, the land must be in the control of the LDA (London Development Agency) and the ODA by the summer of 2007 at the latest
."

Gareth Blacker, the director of development for the London Development Agency which must get hold of the land, told the inquiry:

"We are still negotiating with the other landowners in the Olympic zone and continuing to try and make agreements with them."

The inquiry will make a recommendation to the trade and industry secretary, who will make a decision on the compulsory purchase orders.

If they are confirmed, the LDA will serve notice on all owners, leaseholders, tenants and occupiers.

I think it fair to say that the political pressure, behind the scenes, will ensure that the Olympic juggernaut rides roughshod over the rights of the individuals who are currently objecting to the purchase orders.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Sewage Olympics

New York has managed to host the Olympics, not the Olympic Games but the Sewage Treatment Olympics.

Four teams competed to win the 19th Annual Sewage Olympics. They performed simulated drills that included; retrieving someone from a manhole, testing air quality in a makeshift sewer, fixing a broken sewer pipe and repairing a waste treatment pump.

The event was sponsored by the New York Water Environment Association and the Department of Environmental Protection.

The winners this year were the Bowery Bay Boys.

It is good to see an Olympic event that actually adds value.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Green Olympics

The authorities in Beijing are working hard to ensure that the 2008 Olympics will be seen to be green.

In July and August Beijing suffers from very high temperatures, and is short of flowers. That is not deterring the Beijing Municipal Gardening and Forestation Bureau, who are aiming to transform Beijing into a city "shrouded in green and wreathed with flowers".

The Bureau claim that they have developed ways to enable thousands of flowers, such as chrysanthemums, Chinese roses and other homegrown flowers, to prolong their fluorescence throughout summer.

They are also studying ways of transplanting green trees from forests in the suburbs to the downtown venues for the Olympic Games, including spraying powder to protect their roots and planting them in special containers.

The bureau is also taking to concept of green quite literally, by carrying out a "green roof" project; which involves planting green plants on the top of buildings, less than 12 storeys high, along the main roads of Beijing and beside the Olympic venues.

It is expected that 80,000 to 100,000 square metres of roofs will have plants by the end of this year; by 2008, it will be 300,000 square metres

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Future of Britain's Oldest Salmon Smokery Secured

The Olympics juggernaut, never one to respect the rights of individuals, has been prevented from claiming one more victim.

The future of Forman & Son, Britain's oldest salmon smokery, has been secured after its owner agreed to move to make way for the London Olympics.

Forman & Son supplies smoked fish and other seafood to some of the world's best restaurants and hotels, from its East End factory. It has agreed to move to a site, just outside the proposed Olympic Park, on Fish Island.

The deal comes at the last minute, as a public inquiry opens today into the clearance of 500 acres in the Lower Lea Valley near Stratford; the site of the London 2012 Olympics.

The deal was brokered at the last minute as a means of saving the embarrassment of Lord Coe (head of the London Olympics) from being publicly cross examined by Lance Forman (head of Formans) in the public enquiry which opens today.

Forman and Son is located on Marshgate Lane industrial estate, which is earmarked for the Olympic stadium.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Imperial Tombs

Work on the construction of the shooting ranges for the Beijing 2008 Olympics has been suspended, following the discovery of some imperial tombs.

The tombs were found in mid April, are believed to date back five to six centuries to the Ming dynasty. It is speculated that they were for eunuchs serving at the imperial court.

Usually, during construction projects in Beijing, artifacts discovered are removed or destroyed before experts can examine them.

A spokeswoman for the Beijing Olympic organizers, Zhu Jing, said that she had no information on how the discovery would affect construction.

I wonder if the Olympic facilities now being constructed will last as long?

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Chicago To Bid for 2016 Olympic Games

It is reported that Peter Ueberroth and other top officials of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) are planning to meet with Chicago's Mayor, Richard Daley, next week about a possible bid for the 2016 Summer Games.

USOC said yesterday that Chicago will be one of five cities that they will visit over the next two weeks. The other cities are; Houston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Ueberroth is quoted as saying:

"The process of bidding to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games is more competitive today than ever before.

These meetings are an important step in a new process we are following to determine when to bid, how to more effectively bid and with whom to bid
."

Daley has said that he believes that hosting the Olympics could be a landmark event for Chicago.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Tokyo Bids For Olympics

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government last week submitted to the Japan Olympic Committee its bid to host the 2016 Olympics Games.

Tokyo will compete with Fukuoka, to become Japan's candidate to host the Summer Olympics, final plans and budgets will have to be submitted by June 30.

The winner will be decided by the end of August.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Manners Maketh Man

In addition to rebuilding Beijing in time for the 2008 Olympics, the Chinese are working flat out to improve the city's manners lest visitors to the Olympics form a poor impression of China.

Liao Fei, is a researcher who has been tasked with determining how to improve manners in Beijing before the 2008 Olympics. He says that public belching, pushing in crowds and talking loudly in movie theaters are too common.

Authorities are concerned that loud cell phone talkers, dog shit strewn pavements and incomprehensible public signs will leave a lasting bad impression.

Zhou Shiji, the Beijing author of Doing Instead of Knowing, said:

"If we don't change our habits before 2008 the world will look down on China."

His book "teaches people how to establish good habits" he said.

Adding:

"Many Chinese know that their habits are bad, but they don't change because everyone else is doing the same things."

It will be quite a challenge I think.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Soccer Dopes

It seems that soccer may be pushed out of the Olympics, unless it cleans up its doping rules.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that FIFA, soccer's world governing body, is not compliant with the rules of the code issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). WADA dictates doping policy for all 35 Olympic sports federations.

FIFA adopted the WADC at its Congress in 2004, but WADA has ruled that soccer hasn't changed its rules to be in line with the code.

Soccer is so mired in scandal (eg bungs), I am not in the least surprised that they have not "managed" to bring their doping rules up to date.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Olympic Omelet

You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, or so the old saying goes. That certainly seems to be the case with the Beijing Olympics.

Beijing's mayor has called for a speeding up of the demolition of impoverished neighborhoods in Beijing, as part of preparations for the 2008 Olympics.

Mayor Wang Qishan told officials and construction workers that demolishing the dilapidated neighborhoods is an essential task this year, and that the work must be accelerated.

Beijing is undergoing a thorough makeover for the 2008 Games. It is estimated that the cost of refurbishment will top $40BN. This will cover the costs of new sporting venues, new roads and subway lines and the new build of residential communities in the suburbs.

One area of reconstruction is aimed at the poorer areas known as "inner city villages", there many homes have been built illegally and many of whose residents are rural migrants.

It is reported that about a third of these areas designated for destruction have been torn down, with the rest to be finished by year's end.

Wang is quoted as saying:

"This work is full of significance in strengthening the environment, building a livable city and realizing the strategic plan of a 'New Beijing, Great Olympics'."

Quite what the residents of these soon to be demolshed homes think is not reported. I assume that the corporate sponsors of the Olympics are happy with this non reporting?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The London Levy

The row over the levy being imposed on Londoners to pay for the 2012 Olympics is heating up.

Lord Sebastian Coe, head of the London Olympics, has entered the row.

He has written a letter to Bexley Council leader Councillor, Chris Ball. In the letter Lord Coe stressed that Londoners' cash is not being used to build Olympic facilities.

Bexley has been the heart of a campaign opposed to the council tax levy imposed by London Mayor Ken Livingstone for the next 10 years, to help meet the bill for the 2012 Games.

A petition is being raised to oppose the levy, which will be taken to Downing Street.

The campaign claims the levy is unfair because it is making Londoners help pay for the Games and underwrite any losses, while the benefits will be felt across the country.

Lord Coe claims that Londoners' cash will be used to finance improvements to London's infrastructure, and provide a legacy for present and future generations of Londoners.

Quote:

"We have to plan now for the type of community which will be living in the area in 25 years.

We need to plan the infrastructure, the utilities and the telecommunications now if we are to have a modern, diverse and integrated community for our children and their children
."

The anti levy spokesman, John Flunder, retorted saying that Lord Coe had not said anything Londoners did not already know.

Quote:

"The infrastructure of east London was already earmarked for development whether or not London won the Olympics.

But Londoners have also been committed to share any losses from the Games with the Lottery.

And Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has refused to cap London's contribution, so we are facing an unknown bill at the end of the Games
."

As often noted, the Olympics are not about sport but about money.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Chaos Threatens British Olympics

The 2012 Olympics in London are, according to some, being threatened by the chaos at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Dame Sue Street, permanent secretary at the department, left amid accusations that she clashed with Tessa Jowell, culture secretary.

Dame Sue was questioned by Sir Gus O'Donnell, cabinet secretary, as to whether Ms Jowell had breached the ministerial code by failing to declare a $600K gift received by Mr Mills from an Italian source in 2000.

The Cabinet Office said that it was "appalled by the suggestion that Sue Street left for any other reason than her desire to pursue other goals".

Hugo Swire, shadow culture secretary, accused the culture department of trying to "bury this news" by announcing it on its website on a Friday afternoon during the Easter recess.

Quote:

"This is just the latest proof of the chaos and disarray in Tessa Jowell's department. Criticism of licensing, confusion over gambling, delays over Wembley, let alone the problems caused by Ms Jowell's personal position - all point to the chaos enveloping her department.

With her top civil servant jumping ship, very real questions are now raised [about] the ability of Tessa Jowell's department to [stay] focused on delivering the 2012 Olympics
."

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Olympics To Bring Prosperity

According to Tony Blair the London Olympics in 2012 will bring prosperity.

During the launching of a charity website yesterday, he said:

"Six years of wrangling, one year of blind panic, two weeks of glory and an endless period of repentance at leisure. Welcome to the Olympics. We are going to show that there is another story to be told."

Adding:

"The Olympics can be a catalyst for the city which will be its host. It can inspire new infrastructure, school and hospital buildings, new housing, the regeneration of derelict sites.

We could inspire economic prosperity that is sustained long after the closing ceremony and which will pay for the games many, many times over
."

I wonder how many times that politicians have said that about the Games?

For sure there will be some people who do very well out of the large sums of government money and sponsorship deals that will be sloshing around.

However, as to whether the good people of London notice a dramatic change (aside from increased traffic congestion, building sites and rocketing property prices in East London) remains to be seen.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Beijing On Track

Construction work for the 2008 Beijing Olympics is on track, with construction of all venues underway two years before the start of the Games.

That at least is the conclusion of the International Olympic Committee, whose chief inspector Hein Verbruggen issued a statement yesterday:

"BOCOG (Beijing Games Organising Committee) shows steady and strong involvement and achieves good progress in all fields of Games preparation.

We therefore look to the path to 2008 with great confidence.
"

The operational budget for the Games is about US$2BN. However, another $40BN has been budgeted to upgrade Beijing's infrastructure and tackle pollution before the opening ceremony in August 2008.

Tu Mingde, BOCOG president assistant, is quoted as saying:

"The preparations have been going smoothly and well on schedule.

It (operational budget) will be much higher than the amount we had in the bid file
."

The Chinese authorities expect the cost of the Games to be tax neutral.

Monday, April 3, 2006

£100M Funding Gap

It seems that, despite the enthusiasm of the politicians, there is a £100M funding gap in the finances of the 2012 London Olympics.

Indeed, it is expected that this figure may in fact grow.

The precise costs of the Games are unlikely to be known until after they have been held. However, some estimates are already being made.

UK Sport have come up with the £100M figure, which is hoped to be plugged by the private sector.

This will not be so easy, as company sponsorship is limited to individual Olympic sports rather than individual sportsmen; companies prefer to sponsor individuals rather than sports.

There also seems to be some confusion as to who is meant to be raising this money. UK Sport's performance director, Liz Nicholl, has said that her body are "not experts in raising money" and it would, she believes, "be inappropriate to divert our energies into that. Sponsorship is not our core business."

A very British confusion and reluctance to talk about money, may well scupper these games.