News - Olympic Games


Jessica HardyAmerican swimmer Jessica Hardy, who missed the Beijing Olympics in 2008 because of a doping violation, has been cleared for next year's Games in London after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told her she would not be subject to the controversial rule that threatened her eligibility.

Hardy, the 2007 world 50 metres breaststroke champion, was banned from the Beijing Games only a few weeks before they started after she tested positive for clenbuterol.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) later ruled that the Long Beach swimmer was not at fault for taking a contaminated dietary supplement.

But she still received a one-year suspension, which subjected her to the IOC's six month rule that bars any athlete who has been banned for more than half-a-year from competing in the next Olympics.

The IOC has now notified, however, her that she was not subject to the rule because it went into effect so close in time to the positive test.

The IOC also looked favourably on the fact that Hardy voluntarily withdrew from Beijing while her case was still pending, in hopes of not also having to miss London.

"I am ecstatic that the IOC has recognised my unique situation, and that this rule does not apply to me," 24-year-old Hardy said in a statement released through her lawyer, Howard Jacobs.

"With this final hurdle now behind me, I can now focus 100 per cent of my efforts on preparing for and representing my country at next year's Olympic Games, a lifelong dream that was taken away from me in 2008."

News of her reinstatement came in the same week the IOC and United States Olympic Committee (USOC) agreed to let CAS rule on the validity of the six month rule, which is viewed by many critics as a rule that penalises athletes twice for a single doping violation.

American sprinter LaShawn Merritt's Olympic fate will be tied to that decision.

Merritt, the defending Olympic and world champion in the 400m, is serving a 21-month suspension that ends in July.

He would be eligible for the Olympics under that timeline but must wait to see if the CAS upholds the IOC rule.

The IOC and USOC agreed it would be better to figure out this rule well before the Olympics to avoid confusion in the lead-up to trials and the Olympics next year.

USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said they welcomed the news about Hardy but did not expect it to have any effect on the case impacting Merritt.

"We see these as totally separate issues that are unrelated and have no bearing on each other," he said.


By Jacquelin Magnay

The opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games is 10 times oversubscribed and more than 20 million Olympic tickets have been applied for across all sports in the first stage of the Olympic ticket process.

More than half of the 650 Olympic sessions are oversubscribed, with officials set to conduct a ballot for tickets.

The sold-out sign includes all sessions of track cycling, rhythmic gymnastics, triathlon, modern pentathlon, equestrian and the opening and closing ceremonies. Most of the swimming sessions and tennis will also be ballotted.

The public application process, which closed yesterday after an hour's extension because of overwhelming last-minute demand, should see organisers hit their target of raising £400 million from this stage, with up to another £100 million of tickets to be sold in further ballots.

There were 6.6 million tickets for sale in this public ticket process.

Locog chairman Sebastian Coe said: "We are thrilled with the response right across the board, in all sports and all sessions.

"Certain events have seen massive demand - for example the Opening Ceremony, which is more than 10 times oversubscribed, so there will understandably be disappointment and we will find a way to go back to those people with other tickets.

"What is most encouraging is that the majority of applications are for multiple tickets and for several sports, which shows that friends and family are planning to go to the Games together."

Nearly 1.8 million people have applied for tickets, with 95 per cent of orders coming from within the United Kingdom, pleasing organisers who want to see British fans in the stands.

Locog will now check and de-duplicate applications before running ballots across sessions which are oversubscribed and process applications.

Money will be taken from accounts from May 10, 2011 and customers will receive confirmation of which events they will receive tickets for in June 2011.


By Duncan Mackay

Organisers were today forced to extend the deadline to apply for tickets for next year's Olympics by more than an hour to cope with a last-minute surge in demand.

Problems struck the website for about 20 minutes from 10.30pm last night, as the clock ticked down to the 11.59pm deadline for the 6.6 million tickets.

At 11.37pm - 22 minutes before the deadline expired - London 2012 posted a Twitter message informing people it had been extended.

"We apologise for any inconvenience this delay may have caused and the ticketing system will remain open until 1am," the message said.

The website still appeared to be accepting applications after this time, however, but by 1.30am a spokesman confirmed the site was closed to new applicants and a notice on the site told users that applications for tickets had shut.

Members of the public using the site to register for tickets, which will be allocated later by ballot, were met by a holding message.

The website,, displayed a page telling would-be customers: "We're experiencing high demand. You will be automatically directed to the page requested as soon as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience."

After a lengthy waiting period the holding page timed out leaving some users with a new page that read simply: "Sorry, we cannot process your request. Please try again later."

Sports fans were told that the six-week ticket application was a marathon, not a sprint, and that they would have the same chance of getting a ticket on the first or the last day of the process.

There were 650 sessions across 26 sports and 17 days to choose from, and people were limited to a maximum of 20 events each.

Prices ranged from £20 ($33) to £2,012 ($3,321).

They included paying up to £2,012 for the opening ceremony, up to £725 ($1,196) for the showpiece 100m athletics final and between £50 ($83) and £325 ($537 million) for the track cycling finals.

People will find out whether or not they have secured tickets by June 24.

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By Duncan Mackay

The deadline for applying for tickets for next year's London Olympics is 11.59 tonight with a late rush expected as fans scramble to be part of the biggest sports event ever to be held in Britain and snap up some of the 6.6 million tickets available.

Tickets have been on sale for six weeks but Easter weekend was the busiest since tickets went on sale, with applications peaking on Sunday (April 24), London 2012 officials have revealed.

Supporters – who have applied from as far afield as the Falkland Islands – will discover whether they have been successful by the end of next month.

Depending on levels of sales, which organisers insist are "going well across the board", there may be further windows but chances of securing tickets for high-profile events will be slim.

"Applications have been steady but at a high level, which is in line with operational expectations – but now they have hit the roof," said Paul Deighton, the chief executive of London 2012.

"Every day we have had a massive number of orders – which is not surprising, because people have taken on board that it's not a first-come, first-served system.

"They have sat down with their families to decide what they want.

"In the last week we have been getting three or four times the applications above and beyond what was coming in for the previous five weeks."

With 650 sessions across 26 sports and 17 days, people will be limited to a maximum of 20 events each.

The most popular events, including the men's 100 metres final, have a limit of four tickets per person.

Money will be taken out of bank accounts between May 10 and June 10, and people informed of which events they will be lucky enough to be attending on June 24.

A large number of applicants have yet to complete their on-line purchases, although they have started the process..

"We know that over 100,000 people are part way through their application, but they must be fully submitted to count," said Deighton.

"We urge sports fans complete their applications by [to]night, or they could miss out."

After tonight's deadline the applications will be processed and ballots arranged for over-subscribed events, such as the Opening and Closing ceromenies and events in the Velodrome, where Britain are expected to win several medals.

London 2012 have targeted selling 80 per cent of the 6.6 million tickets by tonight, which would leave a further £100 million ($165 million)-worth to sell.

Ticket sales need to contribute a total of £500 million ($823 million), around a quarter of the London 2012 overall budget.


By Tom Degun

Jeremy Hunt (pictured), the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, has admitted that he was "very puzzled" by the row that developed between the British Olympic Association (BOA) and London 2012 regarding surplus from the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The BOA are due 20 per cent of any surplus after the Games but are claiming the cost of staging the Paralympics should not be taken into account when calculating that surplus.

The organisation last week announced that they have temporarily suspended their decision to take the row to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and have decided to reopen talks with London 2012 and while Hunt is confident that an amicable solution to the dispute will be found, he stated that he found the BOA's actions rather perplexing.

"I was very puzzled by what has happened [between the BOA and London 2012]," Hunt told insidethegames.

"This was not the right argument for us to be having so close to having the London 2012 Games.

"However I am confident that we're working our way through a solution on this and I'm very hopeful that we'll be able to go back to business as normal in the near future.

"So its fingers crossed."

Hunt, who was formerly Shadow Minister for Disabled People, met with London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe yesterday to discuss the issue.

"The Paralympics means an awful lot to me," Coe told insidethegames.

"I never ever thought of myself going uniquely to win a bid to win an Olympic Games back [at the International Olympic Committee Session] in Singapore in 2005.

"I saw the legacy value of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in equal measure and I continue to see just that."

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