The Olympics

The Olympics

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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Remains Found

Archaeologists working at the construction site for London's 2012 Olympic Park have uncovered prehistoric skeletons on the site of the Aquatics Centre.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) said that four skeletons were found, together with Iron Age cooking pots, a Roman coin, Roman river walls, World War II gun emplacements and a complete 19th-century boat used for hunting wild fowl on the River Lea.

Unsurprisingly the ODA is confident that no artefacts will be found that are important enough to require preservation on site, and thus hold up construction work!

I wonder what "legacy"/remains, if any, of the 2012 Games will be discovered 1000 years into the future?

Friday, March 28, 2008

An Ill Omen

The ongoing fiasco at Heathrow Terminal 5 is an ill omen for Britain's Olympics in 2012.

An effective and efficient transport (airports, tube, buses, rail etc) infrastructure is essential for the smooth operation and success of the Games.

The chaos at Terminal 5 is symbolic of our ineffective and inefficient transport infrastructure.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hypocrisy

Those people, such as Sarkozy, who call for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics might have greater credibility if it were not for the fact that a large amount of Western imported consumer goods and clothes are manufactured in China.

Those who call for a boycott, whilst still enjoying the tangible products of China, are hypocrites.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Torch Trouble

It looks as though there will be trouble as the Olympic torch is carried around the world, in the run up to the Beijing Olympics this August.

Anti China protesters evaded tight security and managed to disrupt yesterday's Olympic torch ceremony, this guarantees that the flame's procession through London in a fortnight's time will be disrupted.

Tenzin Dorjee, a Tibetan activist who was briefly detained during the protest, said:

"Later we will do protests in London and Paris."

Scotland Yard will allocate 2,000 officers and staff, including river, airborne and mounted police, to protect the Olympic flame's journey from Wembley Stadium to Greenwich on April 6.

Human rights activists, supporters of an independent Tibet and critics of China's support for Darfur and Burma are preparing demonstrations along the 31 mile route.

Are the Olympics really worth all this trouble?

Friday, March 21, 2008

It's The Money Stupid

Dana Perino, presidential spokeswoman, asked whether President Bush would rethink his plans to go to this summer's Olympics after the recent riot in Tibet said that Bush's position is "that this should be about the athletes and not necessarily about politics.

Wrong!

The Olympics is about money, as the sponsors and athletes know full well.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Toilets

One aspect of the forthcoming Olympics to be held in Beijing later this year that has received scant attention, up until now, is that of toilets.

China is now rushing to install Western sit-down toilets for the expected 500,000 foreign Olympics visitors, having been prodded into action by complaints about Asian-style squat toilets.

Yao Hui, deputy head of venue management, said:

"A lot of parties have raised the question of toilets... We have told the venues to improve on this.

Most of the Chinese people are used to the squat toilet, but nowadays more and more people demand sit-down toilets.

However, it will take some time for this transition
."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Olympic Database

The British police are developing the first national database of mugshots, in order to use face recognition technology to match CCTV images with details of offenders.

The system is being developed as a pilot scheme involving the Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Merseyside police. It has already generated a database of more than 750,000 facial images over the past 18 months.

Are there really that many criminals in that part of the UK?

Peter Neyroud, the chief executive of the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA), wants the system up and running in time for the 2012 London Olympics.

The system will enable officers on the beat to be equipped with advanced "second-generation" hand-held computers which can take and transmit fingerprints, download mugshots and details from the police national computer, and access images from local CCTV cameras.

Funny how the Olympics are being used as an excuse/deadline for increased surveillance!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shooting Themeselves in The Foot

Locog, the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics, have a propensity to waste taxpayers' money on their plans for self aggrandisement.

A particularly good example of their waste is the £26M that they intend to spend on the Olympics shooting range at Woolwich.

British Shooting want the range to be sited at Dartford. This is a 178-acre site which, post-2012, would leave shooting with an up to date facility; ie it would leave a legacy.

Locog are trying to concentrate the Games in one very small area of London, and have opted for Woolwich at a cost of £26M.

The chairman of British Shooting, Phil Boakes, said:

"An enormous amount of money is going to be squandered by Locog. The £26 million it is going to cost is made up of £18.6 million to build the facilities and £4million to demolish after the Games (plus VAT) and there will be virtually no legacy for the sport."

In other words, Locog are spending £26M for a three week event.

Money down the toilet.

Why should Locog care, it's only taxpayers' money!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Shrill Voices

Those who are shrilly calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, in response to the current unrest in Tibet, should heed the words of the Dalai Lama.

"The Olympics should not be called off.

The Chinese people... need to feel proud of it. China deserves to be a host of the Olympic Games
."

Source The Times.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Cock Up of Olympic Proportions

Congratulations yet again to the organisers and bureaucrats attempting to "run" the London Olympics 2012, for another cock up.

One of the fundamental planks of the "Olympic strategy" (I wasn't aware that we had one) was that holding the games in London would earn billions from tourism. The government and the Olympics organisers have deluded themselves that the mere existence of the games will encourage thousands of people to come to Britain and spend billions on tourist attractions et al.

Using decidedly dodgy data, that overestimated growth, the government decided that the tourism industry could more or less take care of itself and cut tourism funding by approximately 20%.

The cock up relates to data in the Olympic tourism strategy, which was published in September 2007. This claimed that tourism and leisure grew 4.7% in 2005, compared with growth of 1.1% in the general economy. The government used that figure to justify its claim that a 2004 target to create a £100BN tourism industry by 2010 was achievable.

Needless to say, the figures were fantasy.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) publicised its autumn performance report three months later, this stated that the actual 2005 figure was a mere 0.4% (8% of the overstated figure).

Unfortunately this revelation was too late to save Visit Britain, the national tourism agency, from being savaged by the government. It has had its budget cut from £55.1M to £45.8M.

Will the government please explain as to why the tourism data was so inaccurate?

These games are going to be a shambles, and the taxpayer will end up footing the bill for many years afterwards.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Irony

Without the faintest hint, or recognition of, irony the minister responsible for presiding over the London Olympics budget (that has ballooned from £3BN to £12BN) has accused the borough of Southwark of not adequately planning for the Olympics.

Tessa Jowell, who features regularly on this site, has castigated Southwark's lack of planning for the 2012 Games and warned that it could miss out on millions of pounds.

Seemingly Southwark council has not yet released its Olympic Vision statement that in theory would provide a strategy to attract the tourists, teams and sponsorship that Jowell claims will flood London.

Ms Jowell said:

"What the council is doing is basically giving away the opportunity that the Olympics will bring to Southwark.

Southwark has been left behind if you compare the planning that Lambeth and Lewisham has put in. It's almost impossible to get any information from the council and the people in Southwark are right behind the Games.

The borough has a massive tourist and commercial potential and if the planning is not put in then it could lose out on millions of pounds
."

Given that the games are in East London, I am forced to ask why would the tourists trek all the way down to Southwark?

Quite rightly Sothwark council (which annoys Jowell by not being Labour) fired a well aimed riposte at Jowell. Council leader Councillor Nick Stanton said:

"Southwark council is focused on achieving its ambitious regeneration programme, which will change the lives of thousands of local people.

Because of the Government's decision to cut the council's funding we are focusing on achieving these goals. We are more interested in creating our vision for Southwark than writing a vision statement for the Government
."

The Olympics 2012 is the government's vanity project, aside from lining the pockets of those directly involved with the games, it will do nothing to enhance the lives and prosperity of the citizens of Britain.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ship Promotion Torpedoed

London 2012, one of the many bodies with their fingers in the Olympics' pie, has shelved plans to promote the 2012 London Olympics by using a ship sailing around the world advertising Britain's "cultural riches".

The plan had been for the ship, named the Olympic Friend-ship, to spend four years travelling around the world. The ocean-going clipper had been due to set sail this August. It was to have been crewed by young people, artists, philosophers and students.

The "grand plan" was that the ship would: "...carry a cargo emblematic of the UK's cultural riches.

In turn, every nation visited will have the opportunity to contribute to the vessel's cargo - either in real terms or via the website.

Through dialogue and exchange, creativity and sharing, the UK will use this voyage to redefine its relationship to world cultures and celebrate London's new role as host city
."

Quite why this idea has been scrapped has not been officially stated. However, the fact that the plan sounds like a load of tosh is probably the key factor.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Heathrow Rushes To Enter The 21st Century

With the opening this month of Terminal 5 at Heathrow, BAA will be moving onto their next grand plan; namely that of opening Heathrow East, in time for the London 2012 Olympics.

Heathrow East will replace Terminals 1 and 2, and will process 30 million passengers a year.

The problem facing BAA, and indeed Heathrow, is that BAA's highly geared finances are balanced on a knife edge. There is a possibility that the company may face a financial crisis before the terminal is completed, thus delaying the completion of the new terminal to after the Olympics.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Cost of Sponsorship

BT, one of the sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics, faces a large bill for its sponsorship of the Games.

BT will provide communications services (estimated at being around £120M) for the event in return for publicity worth around £50M-£80M.

This leaves BT with a shortfall of between £40M-£70M.

The question is, who will bear the cost of this shortfall?

A cynic might argue that it will be BT's customers.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Bob The Biometric Builder

Bob The Biometric Builder
Following on from news that 500,000 CCTV cameras will be used to monitor the daily routines of Londoners during the 2012 Olympics, it is reported that Biometric screening (featuring palm and facial recognition) will be used to guard building sites for the London Olympics.

Building workers will have to pass through a two-tier biometric access system, palm and facial recognition, in order to gain access to sites for the 2012 Olympics.

It is estimated that during the project around 100,000 builders will be "processed" (such an Orwellian word).

The biometric screening system is as Britain's largest and most expensive security operation. The Times reports that a version of it may be used to control access by ticket holders to the Olympic stadiums during the Games.

The question is, what will the government do with all the data that it collects?

The recent debacles over loss of NHS and HMRC data hardly instills confidence in the government's ability to securely safeguard personal data.

It should also be noted that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has not ruled out the sharing of information with other government agencies, such as the Home Office.

Will they destroy the data after the Games?

These questions need to be asked.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The "Green" Games

Gordon Brown's credibility as a "green PM", not for the first time, is being undermined by the IOC.

Indeed the credibility of London's "Green" 2012 Olympics, which in theory was to be "car free", is being undermined by the IOC.

The pampered and well paid members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are not inclined to mix with the masses when they attend the London Games.

Heaven forfend that they use our shambolic public transport system!

As such they have demanded that there be over 3,000 chauffeur-driven cars placed at the disposal of dignitaries, officials and corporate sponsors.

The IOC fleet will have access to a network of dedicated lanes, which will be closed to other traffic for up to two months. Up to 3,000 sets of traffic lights will also be adjusted to ensure that the IOC's fleet has fast access to all venues.

What a sham these Games and the people in charge of them are!

Seemingly the IOC "great and the good" includes; 110 IOC members, 400 presidents and secretary-generals from the Olympic committees of the 200 competing nations and 450 senior executives from corporate sponsors. The 10,500 athletes will travel on a dedicated fleet of coaches.

The ordinary man in the street is forbidden from using his own car, because the Games venues will have only a small number of disabled parking spaces.

The actual contract for the IOC fleet is a secret, and those officials allowed to read it must first sign a contract agreeing not to reveal what they have read.

What a farce!

They are taking the piss!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Big Brother

Big Brother
The 2012 London Olympics has given the state a rather nice excuse to beef up its surveillance of the general population, by linking up 500,000 CCTV cameras across the capital.

The Metropolitan Police (Met) force wants to pool its 10,000 cameras with traffic and congestion cameras across London.

The network will be operated from a command centre, in London, by military, police and intelligence services.

Assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, Olympic Security Co-ordinator, said:

"Efforts focus on the capabilities we currently have and how these can be used efficiently to make London safer both now and during Games time.

A good example of this is how the current capabilities of various CCTV networks might be harnessed and integrated in London within the current legislative framework, to deliver greater effect in mitigating specific threats as part of the Olympic security effort
."

The interesting thing is that even after the Olympics have ended, the command centre would remain in place.

Why?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Draft Legacy

Quite extraordinarily, even though the planning of the London Olympics has been going on for several years, there is as yet no plan for the so called "legacy" of the Games.

In fact Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, will today present only a draft version of the legacy action plan to inspectors from the IOC.

In 2005 one of the key reasons that London won the right to host the Games, was the promise by Lord Coe that there would be a lasting legacy for London, the UK and the Olympic Movement.

Therefore, why are the plans for this legacy still only in draft?

Even more worrying is the fact that the budget for the legacy has not yet been set.

Jowell says:

"It's almost ready to go."

Hardly much comfort, who on earth would believe her?

Monday, March 3, 2008

London Under Scrutiny

The London Olympics are under scrutiny this week from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Senior IOC officials, led by executive director Gilbert Felli, will perform a scheduled "project review" into the preparations for the 2012 Games. The London organising committee (Locog) will provide a series of technical updates on progress.

Locog will be keen to try to pour oil on troubled waters, re the negative headlines that the London Games have been generating.

The media have been awash with negative stories such as; Dwain Chambers' selection for the British team and his plans to challenge his life ban from the Olympics, the attempt by the British Olympic Association to gag athletes travelling to Beijing and Ken Livingstone's ham fisted handling of the invitation (now withdrawn) to Linford Christie to carry the Olympic flame.

This negative publicity has revealed a shocking lack of coordination among members of the British Olympic movement, which does not bode well for the practicalities of organising the London Games.