The Olympics

The Olympics

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

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Olympics Legacy

West Ham United have until March 2013 to seal a deal for the Olympic Stadium after being selected as “first-ranked” bidder.

As to whether a deal is agreed remains to be seen, as some doubt West Ham's willingness to stump up a "fair price" for the stadium.

Boris Johnson displayed some public doubts, and applied some pressure yesterday. The Telegraph reports that that he said that he will pursue a “Plan B”, that does not involve football, if a deal cannot be struck.

It is ironic, is it not, that the taxpayer having spent millions on a state of the art athletics track the legacy will most likely be a football stadium that will earn the football club (not the taxpayer) millions?

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Friday, October 26, 2012

OIympics Boost To GDP?

Allegedly the London Olympics contributed to the1% rise in GDP during Q3, as ticket sales boosted the growth figures.

However, the Olympics also caused a fall in retail sales which may have in fact overridden the one off boost that the games have allegedly given to GDP.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Olympics Depress Retail Sales

Unsurprisingly, the recent Olympics had a depressing effect on retail sales (as people stayed at home to watch the Games).

The Office for National Statistics reports that retail sales fell by 0.2% in August compared to July.

Despite the fact that people stayed at home, online sales were worst hit (falling by 0.9%). Online retailers are of the view that people were so "enthralled" watching the Games on the TV, that they stayed away from the PCs.

Really?

I am not so sure, many will have watched the Games online.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Locog and G4S Square Up To Each Other

Locog and G4S are squaring up for a battle over G4S's fees for the security cover they provided (or rather didn't provide) for the London 2012 Olympics.

Paul Deighton, CEO of Locog, told the Home Affairs Select Committee that Locog stopped payments to G4S on July 13, two days after G4S admitted that it would not be able to deliver the 10,400 security guards it had agreed to deploy.

The Telegraph reports that Locog has paid G4S £90M of a total £240M, and that the rest (according to Mr Deighton) is subject to negotiation.

Deighton said:
We had absolutely clear and consistent reassurances from the senior management that they’d be able to deliver ... up until that fateful day on July 11. We shouldn’t over-complicate this. They just failed to deliver because their own processes broke down.”
Step forward Nick Buckles, CEO of G4S, who also appeared before the committee. Unsurprisingly he has a different view, and is of the opinion that G4S should be paid in full:
I’m not going to sit here and say we did a great job, but we delivered a significant proportion of the contract. I expect them to pay us in line with the terms of the contract.
The contract would make fascinating reading. However, I doubt that we will ever be able to read the contract as it is shrouded in secrecy.

As I have stated before:
"This is of course what happens when a major project/event is not run in an open transparent manner, and is not subject to scrutiny by independent professionals acting in the interests of the taxpayer."
The hapless taxpayer will end up footing the bill for the largess and incompetence of Locog and G4S.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paralympic Opening Ceremony

Professor Stephen Hawking kicked off last night's Paralympic opening ceremony, which focused on "enlightenment" as its core theme.

Channel 4, which broadcast the ceremony, chose to interrupt it a number of times with adverts.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Boris Johnson Dances



The closing ceremony of the London Olympics went without a hitch last night.

A smorgasbord of British talent appeared including; the Spice Girls, the Who, George Michael, the Pet Shop Boys, Kate Moss, Eric idle and Madness etc.

I can't say the sound quality for Madness or the Pet Shop Boys was particularly good.

I was also a tad perplexed as to why Sebastian Coe and Jacques Rogge referred to "Your Majesty" in their closing speeches, given that the Queen was not actually in attendance.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Real Legacy of London 2012

As James Pearce has said, Replacing G4S personnel with personnel from the armed forces made London 2012 friendlier and safer.

Thus proving the old adage that every cloud really does have a silver lining!

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Coe Appointed Olympics Legacy Ambassador

Lord Coe has been appointed as the UK's Olympics legacy ambassador.

Quite what that means, and how much he will be paid for this undefined role has yet to be clarified.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

BBC Staff Told Not To Be Patriotic

In a rather perverse ruling, BBC staff have been warned not to focus too heavily on British success in London 2012.

Director General Mark Thompson has advised them to remember that other countries are competing too.

Does not the fact that it is the British Broadcasting Company and that it is the London Olympics entitle the presenters to show some patriotism?

After all, it's not as though we have done so well in the past. Furthermore, I am sure that US, Chinese and Russian networks (to name but a few) focus on their own athletes' successes at the expense of others.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reliant Robin To Appear At Closing Ceremony

As the Olympic closing ceremony on Sunday approaches, speculation is mounting as to exactly who and what will be featured.

Thus far, the "informed" speculation states that a Reliant Robin from Only Fools and Horses will appear together with over 4,100 performers, among them 3,500 adult volunteers and 380 schoolchildren from the six east London boroughs where the Games are taking place.

Rumours are that Kate Bush, the Who and George Michael may also appear.

The closing ceremony starts at 21:00 BST Sunday 12 August.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NBC Shrouds Itself in Olympic Glory

For reasons best known to NBC (they claim it was to protect their $1.2BN Olympic rights) they decided not to show Usain Bolt's 100M victory on 5th August live on TV, instead saving it for precious "primetime".

NBC of course do have a live web stream that, in theory, should have shown the race.

Can you guess what happened children?

Yes, that's right, it didn't work.

Well done NBC, $1.2BN well spent on denying other US networks the chance to broadcast the Olympics professionally and in real time!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

The True Spirit of The British Olympics



Stuff the sponsorship, the zil lanes and the self centered lust for gold!

Rachel Onosanwo embodies the true spirit of what the British Olympics should be about.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic Buffoonery - Not Saving The Planet

Congratulations to the "brains" behind the decision to use three Hydrogen-fuelled taxis to ferry Olympic VIPs and other assorted hangers on around various Olympics venues.

The cabs can only be refuelled at service stations that offer hydrogen as a fuel.

Can you guess where the nearest service station that offers hydrogen is children?

Yes, that's right, Swindon - which is (cough) 130 miles away!

Seemingly (as per the BBC) the designated hydrogen fuelling station, at Lea Interchange near the Olympic Park, has had to close for security reasons.

Therefore the taxis are loaded on a transporter to take them to Swindon.

Well done lads, a great idea that has definitely contributed to "saving" the planet!


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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Brand Police Go Bonkers

Andrew Goldstone has just tweeted the following:
"Brand name taped over on hand dryers in gents at canoe slalom. Corporate sponsor policing gone mad. BTW everyone, they're made by Elliott. "
Therefore folks you know what to do the next time that you have a "modular space" issue, go out and hire Elliott just to annoy the brand police!

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One Hundred Years From Now



One hundred years from now London will be hosting the Olympics again, and Andy Murray will still be playing tennis.

Don't believe me?

Take a look at the above picture taken by @hfwardhouse

What year is printed on the umpire's chair?

Aha!

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Monday, July 30, 2012

ROFLOL - Olympic Flame Extinguished

In a display of remarkable incompetence, despite planning the layout of the Olympics stadium for many years, the organisers of London 2012 had to extinguish the Olympic cauldron on Sunday evening in order to move the cauldron to another part of the stadium.

Why did they put the cauldron in the the wrong place in the first place?

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Olympics Zil Lanes Deactivated

It seems that, quite rightly, those organising the London Olympics have realised that the Olympics Zil road lanes (designated for use only by Olympics VIPs) may not be so popular with the "working masses".

As such, Boris Johnson has just announced that some of the lanes have been turned off.

As per ITV :
"London's mayor has said that "a lot" of the Olympic Games lanes have been "turned off". He was speaking on his way out of the daily COBRA meeting of security officials. There will be more details shortly.

He added that even the head of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, has refused to use the lanes that are specially designated for Games officials and athletes."
Quite right!

However, as Christie Malry has just pointed out:
"Zil lanes exist solely to get officials to the Games quickly. Seatgate shows they're not going to the Games!"
Quite so!

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Nelson Sports Olympics Hat



In honour of the London 2012 Olympics, and project Hatwalk, Lord Nelson is sporting a special Olympics hat this week until Friday.

As per the Evening Standard:
"In a dual celebration of the capital’s heritage and its world-beating milliners, 20 statues have had headwear specially created for them by 21 top designers, including Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones, as well as emerging ones.

The project, called Hatwalk, was sparked by Mayor Boris Johnson musing on how to encourage the public to look up and learn about the dozens of sculptures of famous figures in the capital."
Certain other statues in London have also been given a temporary hat, the fill list can be seen in the Evening Standard.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Will The Owners of The Empty Olympics Seat Please Stand Up

Atos, BA, Coca Cola, McDonalds, EDF and Thomas Cook have all denied that they own the empty Olympics seats.

That being the case, who does own these seats, and why have the tickets not been given to someone else who actually wants to see the Games?


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Saturday, July 28, 2012

The London 2012 Opening Ceremony - The Curate's Egg



"Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices,
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again."

The above speech, by Caliban from Shakespeare's The Tempest, was read by Kenneth Brannagh (playing Isambard Kingdom Brunel) as Danny Boyle's vision of Britain morphed from the green and pleasant land into the dark satanic mills of Victorian industrialisation.

NB: Caliban is forced into servitude on an island ruled by Prospero, because Caliban attempted to rape Propsero's daughter. 

Boyle's show was entertaining and it was most certainly a spectacle, in every sense of the word.

In terms of presenting history in a linear format, David Starkey et al were doubtless rolling their eyes in horror, it was a mishmash (of Boyle's "choice cuts") albeit an entertaining one.

I was very amused to see that Boyle had managed to persuade the Queen to take on a cameo role and allowed herself to be escorted to the Games by "James Bond" via helicopter, from which she "parachuted" into the stadium.

The two criticisms I would make are as follows:

1 The Second World War and, most specifically, the Blitz were ignored. Like it or not, that was a defining moment in this country's history in the 20th century. To ignore that ignores how we have arrived at where we are today, including the fact that the war paved the way for the creation of Boyle's precious NHS and welfare state.

2 Whilst the NHS is a key milestone and achievement in this country's history, it is not the be all and end all of this island's long history. Boyle devoted too much of the show to a segment that gave a distorted 1940's fantasy of what the NHS never was or will be. Political point scoring is all very well, but the opening ceremony of the Olympics is not the place for such point scoring.

That being said, the opening ceremony did what it said on the tin; namely provide a well choreographed show to open the games, that contained the core British characteristic of self deprecation (step forward Her Majesty and Mr Bean to take a well deserved bow).

As to whether anyone not born in the UK understood what was going on, well I will leave that to foreign commentators to discuss!



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Friday, July 27, 2012

London 2012 Opening Ceremony Preview



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Fortress London - Back To The Future



1940 London is becoming a fortress; an army of volunteer observers now cover the city, scanning the skies for enemy aircraft.

Meanwhile in 2012, on the top of the Fred Wigg Tower....

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London 2012 Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics will start at 21:00 BST this evening.

The ceremony, which will be opened by the Queen, will last for three hours and is expected to be viewed by a global TV audience of around a billion.

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Three Arrested at Newcastle Olympic Venue

Three people due to work as staff at an Olympic venue in Newcastle have been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.

Source Sky News.


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For Whom The Bell Tolls



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Question For Mitt Romney

If our country and hosting of the Olympics are so crap, will you be giving your free seat at tonight's Opening Ceremony up to someone who actually might want to be there?

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Avoid Stratford Again

There will be apening ceremony rehearsal this evening in Stratford, ahead of tomorrow's actual opening ceremony.

As such, Stratford will be extremely busy.

Avoid the area if possible!

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Less Than Half Team GB To Attend Olympics Opening

The Telegraph reports that Team GB will only field 260 out of 541 British athletes during tomorrow's opening ceremony march.

Why are less than half of Team GB appearing?

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Advice To Olympics Organisers

Learn your flags before you run them up the flagpole!

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Mitt Romney Restores The Special Relationship

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, on a visit to London to restore "Anglo-Saxon understanding to the special relationship" decided to have a dig at the Olympics.

The Telegraph reports that he told US television there were "disconcerting" signs about Britain's readiness:
"It's hard to know just how well it will turn out.

There are a few things that were disconcerting: the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging."
Yes, that will help "restore understanding!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Border Agency Call Off Strike

Border Agency staff have called off their strike which was due to happen tomorrow. It seems that the government blinked first.

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Avoid Stratford

There will be an opening ceremony rehearsal this evening. As such, Stratford will be extremely busy.

Avoid the area if possible.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

1,200 More Troops Deployed

The government has deployed another 1,200 troops to protect the Olympic games.

The government states that there is no specific security threat, but it just doesn't want to take any chances.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Locog Bans Box Hill News

Locog will not allow a village magazine to be sold on Box Hill during this month's cycle races, because the publication is not an official London 2012 sponsor.

The Box Hill News, a 40p news magazine run by volunteers, wanted to publish a special Olympics-themed edition to be sold on the weekend of the cycling races, July 28 and 29.

Locog insist only event sponsors can trade along the route.

Corporate greed at its worst!

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Central Line Severe Delays

GetAheadofTheGames warns that our "world class" tube system is experiencing problems:
"REMINDER: Central line is still operating with severe delays.
No surprises there then!

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Olympic Insurrection



Kudos to this shop in Surbiton for sticking two fingers up to the Olympic brand police and joining the Olympic Insurrection.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

G4S Securing Your World - The Song





I kid you not!
"You love your job and the people too 
Making a difference is what you do
Consider all you have at stake
The time is now, don't make a mistake
Cause the enemy prowls, wanting to attack
But we're on the wall, we've got your back
So get out front and take the lead 
And be the winner you were born to be.
Calling G4S, protecting the World 
G4S, so your dreams can unfurl 
24/7 every night and day 
Our warriors stand ready so don't be afraid. "

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Olympic Ill-feeling

My "commiserations" to the Cabinet minister who complained about being banned from using Olympic VIP lanes:
"This has caused a lot of ill-feeling and frankly some of us would rather not be going to anything at all."
I suggest that if you feel that way, you boycott the Games.

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Lord Coe Trending on Twitter

Lord Coe has made rather a fool of himself and exposed the Olympics to even more ridicule and contempt (if that were possible), by stating on Radio 4 this morning that spectators would not be allowed to wear clothing with logos of non sponsoring organisations (eg a Pepsi T-shirts are banned).

Suffice to say his comments went down like a lead balloon, and "Lord Coe" is currently trending on Twitter as he and the Games are being subjected to derisive abuse and ridicule.

The furore has prompted Locog (an organisation that has not covered itself in glory) to issue a hasty retraction, saying that people can wear what they like and claiming Coe was confusing "spectators" with those who work at the Games.

All very well, except that Locog have also publicly stated (on their list of banned items) the following:
"Any objects or clothing bearing political statements or overt commercial identification intended for ‘ambush marketing’"
The phrase "clusterfuck" springs to mind!

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G4S Securing Your World



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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Border Agency To Stage Olympics Strike

PCS have now given details of when the Home Office strike, announced yesterday, will occur.

Unsurprisingly it is timed to hit the Olympics.

Thousands of Home Office workers (including Border Agency staff) will stage a 24-hour strike on 26th July, the day before the Olympic Games open.

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Jeremy Hunt Feels Safer

Apparently Jeremy Hunt thinks that it's a "good thing" that soldiers are guarding the London 2012 venues, as opposed to G4S.

He is quoted by the Telegraph:
That makes me feel safer, so I think it's a good thing.” 
That being the case, why did the government and Locog originally contract G4S to guard Olympic venues?

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The Olympics Gravy Train - East Midlands Trains Strike

Following their brothers in the Border Agency, and recognising a golden opportunity to make some money out of the Olympic, members of the train drivers' union Aslef have scheduled strikes on East Midland Trains for 6, 7, and 8 August.

Remember, the Olympics are not about sport but about money!

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Locog's Chickens Come Home To Roost

It has emerged that Locog, the organisers of London 2012, encouraged G4S to keep wages for security staff as low as possible.

Security guards have been offered £8.50 an hour to work at the Olympic venues, which is below the market rate of about £10 an hour.

This pressure on G4S by Locog is somewhat "ironic" given that the government and Locog said publicly that security staff should be paid £10 an hour, so that enough staff were recruited in time.

Locog's chickens have come well and truly home to roost!

The BBC reports that G4S was "incentivised" (ie pressured) in the contract (which was renegotiated and enhanced in December) to keep costs down in order to maximise profits.

Unsurprisingly Margaret Hodge, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, has said that it raises "serious questions" about Locog's management of the contract.

Quite!

I will therefore repeat what I have said before:

1 This is what happens when a major project/event is not run in an open transparent manner, and is not subject to scrutiny by independent professionals acting in the interests of the taxpayer.

2 As an experienced FCA and fraud investigator I recommend that a full independent audit be conducted of the tendering process, the contract, Locog and G4S operations pertaining to their work for the Games.

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Coke To Pay Tax

Coca-Cola have followed McDonald's, GE and Visa and waived the Olympic tax exemption:
"Coca‑Cola has never intended to, and will not be making, any corporate or income tax exemption claim with respect to any activity concerning our involvement with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
More than 90% of the Coca‑Cola employees working at the Olympic and Paralympic Games are UK nationals. Those from abroad will be paid by their respective home countries.

As one of the longest, continuous sponsors of the Olympic Movement, we are proud that we are able to use our sponsorship to enable millions of people to experience the Games and believe we have a valid role to play. As well as sharing expertise, our financial support will help to stage London 2012. We have also built on our experience as an Olympic and Paralympic sponsor to help LOCOG deliver the most sustainable Games possible."
Apparently they always intended to pay tax, the statement is one merely of clarification.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Border Agency Staff To Strike

Now that the bus drivers have accepted their Olympic bribe, step forward Border Agency staff and others who also want a share of the Olympic pie.

Thousands of staff at the Home Office have voted to go on strike. Dates have not been set, however there is the prospect of strikes affecting the London 2012 Olympic Games, because Border Agency staff are involved.

The question is, if Border Agency staff do go on strike, will the hapless passengers arriving at Heathrow notice any difference?

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Bus Drivers Accept Bribe To Work During Olympics

London bus workers have accepted an Olympics bonus payment of £577, and called off strike action.

They will now work during the forthcoming Olympics.

How very "gracious" of them!

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Jeremy Clarkson's Views on The Olympics



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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cabbies Blockade Parliament

Cabbies are blockading Parliament, see the picture here.

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The G4S Locog Omnishambles Continues Apace

On the day that Nick Buckles the CEO of the hapless and hopeless G4S appears before the Home Affairs Slect Committee, to answer questions about G4S shambolic performance, Surrey Police Fed have said that out of an expected turnout of 300 G4S staff (promised at Box Hill) only 30 turned up.

Whilst everyone is justifiably crucifying G4S for this national disgrace, let us not forget the organisation that signed the contract with them in the first place and was allegedly mean to "manage" G4S.

Step forward Locog, which will soon find itself under the same degree of scrutiny as G4S.

Newsnight last night reported that an insider from Locog has stated that Locog failed to deal with the problems at G4S despite warnings over the last 18 months.
"G4S have been appalling."
He claimed that those in charge of Locog's security were "amateurish", and it was a mistake using one company to supply staff.
"It was the wrong strategy, to use only one company."
The insider who has worked in security for many years asserts that "at the top level" the management of security at Locog was "thoroughly amateurish and incompetent".

This is of course what happens when a major project/event is not run in an open transparent manner, and is not subject to scrutiny by independent professionals acting in the interests of the taxpayer.

As I recommended on Friday:
"As an experienced FCA and fraud investigator I recommend that if G4s, the government and Locog want to put taxpayers' minds at rest over the integrity of the contracts awarded for the Games, then a full independent audit be conducted of the tendering process, the contract and G4S operations pertaining to their work for the Games."
This recommendation naturally applies to Locog as well.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Olympic Insurrection - Number 10 Joins The Insurrection



Number 10 Downing Street has joined the Olympics insurrection, and has knowingly breached the rules relating to the use and display of the Olympics rings.

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First Impressions

It seems that first impressions of London, for the arriving Olympic athletes, are somewhat negative.

That at least is the conclusion we might draw from Olympic Gold & Silver Medalist, Kerron Clement, who has tweeted:
"Um, so we've been lost on the road for 4hrs. Not a good first impression London."
Followed by:
"Athletes are sleepy, hungry and need to pee. Could we get to the Olympic Village please."

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Olympic Insurrection

I am amused and pleased to see that there is a public insurrection taking place against the Olympics; specifically against the restrictions being imposed, by those who are making money out of the games, on the use by others of the Olympic rings.

People are now openly defying the ban on using the rings; eg Old Holborn, Dave Letorey and Mayfair Kingsize have changed their Twitter avatars to the Olympic rings, technically making them criminals:
"I have changed my avatar. I am now a CRIMINAL"
Special mention to Tent101 who has changed avatar and come up with the excellent tag line #FuckTheOlympics

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

The G4S Clusterfuck - Staff Don't Speak Fluent English



Nick Buckles, chief executive of G4S, when challenged about whether those recruited by G4S even spoke fluent English:
"That is a difficult question to answer. 

They all have a right to work in the UK and have been vetted to very high standards."
When the question was repeated he admitted:
"I can't say categorically."
ROFLOL!

The G4S clusterfuck is the story that just keeps giving.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

The G4S Debacle - The Next Steps

Unsurprisingly G4S, the security firm that failed the nation when the eyes of the world were watching, continues to remain in the headlines. The media and other interested parties are analysing its business and operations with a fine tooth comb, something maybe the government and Locog should have done before signing the Olympics contract?

The Telegraph reports that confidential Home Office documents show that G4S has had its fee for managing civilian security staff for the Games rise from £7.3M to £60M.
The fee the company takes for running its Olympic office has risen more than 10 times faster than its spending on recruitment.
"Almost £34 million of the increase is for the G4S “programme management office” overseeing the security operation. By contrast, the firm’s recruitment spending has increased by only £2.8 million.

The company told ITV Tonight that the contract was subject to “extensive negotiation to ensure value for money” and that there were caps on any profit made. G4S said it had been “absolutely transparent” with Locog about its finances."
Whilst G4S may or may not be "absolutely transparent with Locog", as I noted yesterday, Locog and the government are not absolutely transparent with the taxpayer about this and other aspects of the Olympics.

As an experienced FCA and fraud investigator I recommend that if G4s, the government and Locog want to put taxpayers' minds at rest over the integrity of the contracts awarded for the Games, then a full independent audit be conducted of the tendering process, the contract and G4S operations pertaining to their work for the Games.

Only then will the fears and worries of the taxpayers be assuaged.


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Thursday, July 12, 2012

G4S Win Gold Medal For Spectacular Olympic Incompetence

In April I wrote the following about G4S (the company that is meant to provide security for the Olympics Park):
"The cost of providing security for the games has rocketed skywards, eg elements of the main contract with private security provider G4S have increased by up to seven times."
With only a fortnight to go until the Olympics and G4S and the costs of providing security for the Olympics have yet again hit the headlines, in a spectacular manner.

G4S have failed to deliver on their contract to provide sufficient trained security staff for the Olympics Park, as such the government is having to cover the shortfall with 3,500 troops (many of whom are returning home on leave having just finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan). In a remarkable display of incompetence, G4S only informed the Government that it was struggling to fulfill its brief only in the last fortnight.

Although G4S is rumoured (according to Channel 4 News last night) to be being fined around £50K per day for its incredible incompetence, this is but a drop in the ocean when compared to the £535M that they are making from the Olympics contract.

Needless to say, were the Olympics being run in transparent and open manner the taxpayers (who are paying for this corporate marketing fest) would have the right to look at the contract that G4S has signed for providing security for the Games. Unfortunately the Olympics are not being run in an open and transparent manner, and the contract is not available for public scrutiny.

Why are the taxpayers, who are funding the Games, not allowed to satisfy themselves that their money has been wisely spent and that contracts signed in their names have been negotiated in their best interests?

As an FCA and experienced fraud investigator I would never advise people to put money into a project/business without them at the very least seeing the contract and reviewing it thoroughly, taking advice from independent finance/legal professionals.

The government would argue that they acted in the interest of taxpayers when reviewing and negotiating the contract with G4S. However, as can be seen from this omnishambles of incompetence, it is clear that the government was not up to the job of looking after taxpayers' interests.

Needless to say the fact that troops are being brought in to cover G4S's failure means that the costs of the Olympics will rise. When will the government tell us by how much?

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Residents of Fred Wigg Abandon Legal Challenge To Olympic Missiles

Residents of the Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone (a 17-storey tower block near the Olympic Park) lost their right to challenge the decision by the army to deploy missiles on top of their building yesterday.

The Fred Wigg residents applied for permission to seek judicial review of the government's decision to deploy the missiles, saying it was a "disproportionate interference" with their human rights, and they were not consulted properly over the siting of the ground-based air defence system.

They argued that those who wanted to move out should at least be relocated in hotels by the MoD or a gantry should be erected for the missiles away from the tower block.

However, Justice Haddon-Cave said on Tuesday:
"In my judgment, the MoD's voluntary engagement with the community and residents in this matter were immaculate."
The residents have today abandoned their challenge to the decision.


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Monday, July 9, 2012

Heathrow The National Disgrace of Olympic Proportions

This time last week I wrote the following about our national disgrace of an airport that is Heathrow:
"It seems that Heathrow is in meltdown yet again and, despite the media firestorm over April's clusterfuck, ministers and those in charge of passport checks etc have not yet learned their lesson."
One week on and things at Heathrow are still no better, as Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, can attest to. He paid Heathrow Terminal 4 a visit today and was less than impressed with the ongoing clusterfuck.

The Telegraph reports that Vaz said people were left “stacked” in corridors at 7am:
"I was appalled by the length of queues in the immigration hall this morning
It is now two months since the Immigration Minister promised additional resources and better management. 

The worst aspect was that half of the immigration desks were simply not opened even though the Border Force had prior knowledge of all flight arrivals. 

This creates additional security pressures with luggage piling up in the baggage hall.

We had people waiting in the corridors at the busiest international airport in the world.
To add to the humiliation, BAA claim that the Border Force yet again failed to meet its 45 minute maximum waiting time target for passengers from the European Economic Area (the EU plus Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway).

It is quite clear that Heathrow will not be able to cope during the Olympics, therefore those who can change their travel plans are strongly advised to avoid London airport at all costs during the games!

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Got Milk?



It seems that there may be disruption to the country's milk supplies during the forthcoming Olympics.

The Telegraph reports that three major dairy processors have announced further reductions to the amount they pay farmers for milk.

This has prompted a reaction from the farmers.

David Handley, of the campaign group Farmers for Action, is quoted:
If we don’t get reinstatement [reversing price cuts], we are looking at disruption of milk supplies. 

That could come in many forms.

Part of our action is likely to disrupt that [the Olympics] and that is unfortunate, but at the end of the day we are in desperation street.”
Fortunately I drink vodka!

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Danny Boyle's #Savethesurprise Olympics Crusade


Danny Boyle, the artistic director of the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, has been forced to apologise to the 10,000 volunteers who will appear in the opening ceremony on 27 July over "spoilers" that have been appearing in the press.

The email apology asks that the volunteers "stay virtuous", the BBC quotes him:
"Many of you have been dismayed by the media scrutiny on the show.

I am sorry that, despite our best efforts, we appear to be unable to stop these stories appearing in the press."
I am more than a little "bemused" at Boyle's apparent surprise/disappointment over the press interest and stories about the opening ceremony:

1 He is an experienced film director and producer, he knows full well how the media operates.

2 He himself held a media briefing last month, where he revealed that the ceremony would feature a recreation of the "British countryside" featuring country scenes and farmyard animals.

3 The London Olympics are being heavily promoted by the government, sports bodies and businesses; of course the media are interested in what will happen in the opening ceremony.

4 With 10,000 volunteers, even if they have all signed a non disclosure agreement, there will be leaks.

I cannot understand how Boyle could have been so naive about this?

Notwithstanding the apology, in an action that is guaranteed to create even more media interest in the opening ceremony, Boyle has asked that everyone involved to start Tweeting pleas to the media and others to #savethesurprise.

Even Seb Coe has joined the Tweet crusade:
"
Share the frustration of volunteer performers and the public at Opening Ceremony being unofficially trailed. Let’s "

Is Boyle trying to increase the media frenzy over the opening ceremony, or is this a genuine (if misguided) attempt to damp down leaks and speculation?

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

London Turned Into Armed Encampment

Plans to deploy surface to air missile batteries on residential rooftops in London have been given the go ahead. 

AFP reports that surface-to-air missile defence systems will be deployed at six sites in London during the Olympics as a "powerful deterrent" (as per the MOD) against attack.

The sites include two housing complexes, the Lexington Building in Tower Hamlets and the Fred Wigg Tower in Waltham Forest, together with Blackheath Common and Oxleas Wood, both in south east London, plus William Girling Reservoir in the Lea Valley Reservoir Chain in Enfield and Barn Hill at Netherhouse Farm in Epping Forest.

The deployment comes in the face of protests from residents at two locations where missiles are being deployed on top of blocks of flats.

One residents' group is taking legal action to try and stop the missile deployment. Solicitors instructed by the residents' association at the Fred Wigg Tower said that their challenge will reach the High Court on July 9.

Is hosting the Olympics really worth all of this? 


Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Monday, July 2, 2012

The Heathrow Clusterfuck Returns!

It seems that Heathrow is in meltdown yet again and, despite the media firestorm over April's clusterfuck, ministers and those in charge of passport checks etc have not yet learned their lesson.

The Telegraph reports that:
"Angry passengers reported queuing for nearly two and a half hours last week – with some starting far outside the immigration hall – to be met with empty passport control desks and uninterested staff."
It is quite clear that Heathrow will not be able to cope during the Olympics, therefore those who can change their travel plans are strongly advised to avoid London airport at all costs during the games!

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Olympic Damp Squib

The Independent reports that the hoped for Olympics greedfest (hoped for by those with their snouts in the trough) has not materialised, and that the forthcoming Games look like turning into a financial damp squib.
"Hotel prices have been slashed, and thousands of tickets remain unsold. Olympic package holidays are being flogged at half price and flats near the stadium languish unrented. It looks like the Olympic bubble could well have burst. 

With a surplus of top-end tickets and VIP packages, ticketing and travel companies have slashed prices in a last-minute effort to fill spaces."
This comes as no surprise whatsoever, as in February I wrote:
"Locog have had to publicly humiliate themselves (not for the first time) by admitting that they had overestimated the number of rooms needed by officials, media, sponsors and assorted freeloaders for the coming games.

By how much did they overestimate the demand?

By a staggering 20%!

Locog have had to hand back 120,000 of the total 600,000 nights booked for the Olympics.

Needless to say this 20% reduction in bookings has given the greedy hotel industry a well deserved kick in the goolies.

Tour operators are now panicking and have warned that the newly available rooms will not boost visitor numbers.

For why?

- the vacancies have come too late
- tourists have been put off by the naked greed of the hotel operators
- tourists have been put off by the transport/travel chaos expected in London during the games

It is estimated that up to one million beds will go unsold over the Olympic period, costing the tourism industry around £3.5BN.

Now who was it who said that the Olympics would be a boon to tourism?

Oh yes, Locog!
"
My advice to any tourist brave enough to endure the chaos of London during the Olympics is to negotiate hard with the hotels (who are desperate for business), don't let the greedy bastards get away with overcharging you for a shoddy room and lousy service!

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Muse - Survival The Official Song Of The London 2012 Olympic Games



The official song (dirge) of the Olympics.

Feel free to vent your views/opinions abpout it.

To me it sounds rather like a mish mash of ELO meets James Bond theme.

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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A Disaster In The Making

Seemingly, according to , one million extra people will use London transport during the Olympics:
"Did you know that one million extra people per day are expected to use London's busy transport network during the Games?"
Given that the transport infrastructure cannot cope with its normal load, this influx will be a disaster in the making!


Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Olympics Greedfest Bus Strike

Warming up for the Olympics greedfest, thousands of London bus workers have taken a leaf out of the tube workers' book and have gone on strike today.

For why?

They want a £500 bonus for working during the Olympics.

Transport for London (TfL) said more than a third of bus routes were running but "many routes were disrupted".

It's going to be a long and tedious summer in the capital!

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Police Investigate Large Scale Olympic Ticket Touting

The Telegraph reports that the police have compiled a new “watch list” of nearly 1000 Olympic ticket touts, many of whom are linked to serious organised crime, and 30 sites outside Britain suspected of being involved in illegally selling tickets for the forthcoming Olympics.

Almost 200 people have been arrested for a range of offences, with warnings of further raids over the coming weeks as interest in the Olympic Games intensifies.

I assume the the police will also be investigating those individuals and organisations involved in the ticket touting bonanza that I wrote about just two days ago?

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Olympics Ticket Touting Bonanza

In June 2010 I wrote the following:
"In a rather amusing development, the IOC has all but accused four (albeit unnamed) countries of touting tickets for the recent Vancouver Winter games.

National Olympic Committees (NOCs) receive a quota of tickets that they can sell to the public in their home country. However, some NOCs have been in the habit of passing the tickets on to touts for profit.

Gilbert Felli, an IOC director, has stated that four countries would be punished (they will receive a reduced ticket allocation for the London games) for the way in which the sales of their Vancouver allocation were handled.
"
Here we are some two year later in June 2012, and it appears that the International Olympics Committee (IOC) have yet to get their house in order; and that the illegal touting of tickets by Olympics nations, officials and authorised ticket distributors has become more widespread (or at least is now more prominently visible in the public domain).

The Telegraph reports that Olympic officials were selling tickets on the black market for up to 10 times their face value.

It is alleged Greek national Olympic committee President Spyros Caprolos claimed he successfully lobbied Locog chairman Lord Coe to give Greece a fresh batch of premium tickets to the Games on the pretext that demand in the country had outstripped expectations. Locog deny this allegation, which if true would be rather "ironic" given that in July 2011 Lord Coe made an appeal for Olympics grandees to return unwanted tickets so that UK residents could buy them.

Other allegations (that cover 54 countries) include:

- Serbia's official ticket reseller was prepared to sell 1,300 prime tickets for £80,000 to a Middle East buyer, and attempted to circumvent scrutiny from the IOC or Locog by falsifying information from 1,400 Serbian passports;

- China's official ticket reseller, Caissa, had purchased top-level seats to the Opening and Closing ceremonies, diving, gymnastics and athletics from the official UK hospitality reseller Thomas Cook, which it was prepared to sell on at inflated prices of more than £6,000 each;

- Cyprus and Israel’s ticket reseller was offering 525 seats at the best events for £66,000;

- The Lithuanian ticket reseller was willing to sell all of the country’s remaining tickets to a Middle East buyer; and

- An executive from one major ticket reseller in multiple countries, Cartan Tours, advised a prospective buyer to set up a company in one of the 40 territories in which he has the right to sell tickets.

The Telegraph now reports that in the wake of this expose, the IOC is trying to buy time and will approach a major audit/law firm to conduct a review of the failings.

Why didn't the IOC take decisive action to improve its procedures after the Vancouver touting scandal reported in June 2010?

As I have noted many times before, the Olympics are not about sport but about money!
Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Great Olympics Budget Con



The beleaguered Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt (on whom bookmakers suspended any further bets in April on him to be next Cabinet minister to leave office), is cock-a-hoop with himself over the announcement today that the Olympics is coming in at almost £500M under "budget" at approximately £9.3BN:
"With only 44 days to go before the Olympics, it is fantastic news that there is still £476m of contingency funds left. Britain has proved that not only can we put on a great show for the world to watch like, we did with the Jubilee, but that we can also deliver big construction projects on time and on budget."
This is remarkable arrogance from a man whose own colleagues, from the Liberal side of the coalition, abstained in today's vote on whether he should face an independent investigation into claims that he breached the ministerial code wrt the BSkyB takeover.

Hunt would do well to remember two things about the Olympics "budget":

1 The original "budget" was in fact £2.4BN, and

2 The £9.3BN figure that the government would have us believe the Games are costing, excludes £2.2BN running costs; the Olympics will in fact cost at least £12BN.

What was that you were saying about being "on budget" Mr Hunt?

It is rather surprising that Hunt isn't very good at budgets/financial matters, given that he seems to be pretty skilled at arranging his tax affairs (wrt Hotcourses)  in a "tax efficient" manner.

 Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Green and Pleasant Olympics

The BBC reports that the Olympic Stadium will be transformed into an idealised "romanticist's" view of the "British countryside" for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Games on 27 July.

Seemingly a cast of 10,000 volunteers will recreate country scenes, against a backdrop featuring farmyard animals and landmarks like Glastonbury Tor. Up to 30 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, 9 geese, 3 cows, 3 sheepdogs and 2 goats will also appear.

The opening ceremony, costing £27M, will be called "Green and Pleasant".

The organisers appear to have little sense/understanding of British history, some 200 years ago Britain went through an industrial and agricultural revolution that transformed its way of life and its economy. To ignore a development that has enabled us to "afford" to pay for the £12BN Olympics, and has transformed our way of life, is to ignore the last two hundred years of this country's history.

Why do the organisers want to sweep the last 200 years under the carpet?


Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Friday, June 8, 2012

The Threat of Water

Aside form all the issues that are already threatening the "smooth" running of the Olympics (eg lousy transport system, poor weather, greed and terrorism) it seems that water has to be added to the list.

Congratulations Thames Water for giving London a "wet" run re what might happen again in the future, eg during the Olympics, wrt the Central Line flood yesterday!

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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HMRC Guidance For Selling Olympic Torches

Given that the forthcoming Olympics are about making money, rather than sport, HMRC has very wisely issued some guidance to those people who are thinking of selling their Olympic torches.

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Half-a-Million Screened

In the largest security screening operations of the last 70 years, the backgrounds of half-a-million people have been screened for accreditation to the London 2012 Olympics.

The Telegraph reports that over 100 applications have been refused by the Home Office for a number of reasons, mostly due to concerns about extent of an individual’s criminal records.
The vetting process covers those who wish to work at the Olympics (eg security guards, athletes, coaches and other officials).
 
The fear of terrorism, as demonstrated by the security effort being made, rather knocks on the head that theory that the Olympics brings nations and people together in the spirit of friendship and peace!


Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Olympic Malware Threat

Be warned there is some Olympic themed malware spreading across the net.

Mashable warns:
"Beware if you receive a file purporting to be an Olympics-themed PDF. It may actually be malware.
That’s the warning, at least, from F-Secure, a Helsinki-based security firm. F-Secure warns that the PDF, which is supposed to be a copy of the 2012 Olympic schedule, is a decoy file. 

Once downloaded, the file (see image below) attempts to make a network connection to a “student travel” site in Baotoushi, China. The download exploits weaknesses in old versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat.

F-Secure warns to be wary of any Olympic-themed emails and attachments or of any that are themed to current events. The firm also suggests downloading the current version of Adobe Reader."

Olympic Medals won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics

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