News - Olympic Games


By Duncan Mackay in Tokyo

July 14 - A compromise has been reached in a potentially damaging row between London 2012 and the 205 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) over expenses for next month's Chef de Mission meeting, it was revealed today.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge had been forced to step in last week to try to defuse a dispute over whether London should pay for the accommodation of 200-plus Chefs de Mission when they travel to the city for a meeting next month.

London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe was asked after addressing IOC members during the 123rd Session in Durban what plans had been put in place to cover these costs but indicated strongly that London was not prepared to pay.

"We have always been very clear about our plans," Coe said.

"I really don't think there's a great deal of ambiguity."

Rogge was quick to intervene.

"The issue of the accommodation is going to be studied by the [London 2012] Coordination Commission and we will try to find a solution," he said.

It has now been revealed that the cost of the accommodation at the Hilton Park Lane and the neighbouring InterContinental will be borne jointly by the IOC and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).

They have agreed to share the cost of one room per delegation at a price of approximately £200 ($323) per night for each delegation for the meeting, which is due to begin on August 9 and last until August 12.

In addition, Olympic Solidarity, the IOC-funded group set-up to assist NOCs, are covering the cost of one flight per delegation.

The compromise was announced by Gunnilla Lindberg, the ANOC general secretary, during a presentation here to the 45 members of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA)

"You will all receive a letter in the next few days that will make you very happy," she told the delegates attending the OCA General Assembly at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in the Japanese capital.

The Chefs de Mission meeting, which includes a tour of the Olympic Park, including the Athletes Village, has assumed greater importance after the ANOC General Assembly next year was moved from London to Moscow because the British Olympic Association were unable to afford to host it.

It means this will be most countries only opportunity to visit London before the Games open on July 27 next year.

"It is very important that everyone is there because London is not hosing the ANOC meeting," Lindberg said.

London's refusal to pay for accommodation to attend the Chef de Mission event has caused some resentment among NOCs but Coe has made it clear that only Beijing 2008 had footed the bill for such an occasion in the past.

"It isn't really an issue because we have always been clear about those arrangements," said Coe.

"We have secured very competitive [hotel] prices for the NOCs.

"The only Games hosts who have ever paid were Beijing, otherwise it has always been the NOCs and the IOC."

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By Duncan Mackay

July 13 - Madrid officially announced that it will bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, hoping to replicate Pyeongchang's perseverance in winning on a third consecutive attempt, the city's Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón said today.

Ruiz-Gallardón confirmed the Spanish capital's candidature - first predicted by insidethegames in February - at a press conference today following their unsuccessful bids for the 2012 and 2016 Games, when they were beaten by London and Rio de Janeiro respectively.

He was accompanied by the Socialist municipal group's spokesman, Jaime Lissavetzky, the Sports Minister during Madrid's last bid, and the Deputy Mayor Manuel Cobo.

Madrid is the second city to confirm that they will bid for 2020 joining Rome in a race that is also expected to feature Istanbul and Tokyo and possibly Doha and Durban.

"Madrid is submitting a bid because it thinks it has not just a chance but a great probability of securing the Olympic Games," said Ruiz-Gallardón.

"The city of Madrid has the support of institutions and the sporting world to secure the Olympic Games for our city."

The Mayor claimed the cost of the campaign to bring the Olympics to Madrid would be half that of the previous two bids because much of the work had already been done.

Madrid's failed bid for 2016 cost the city €37.8 million (£33.3 million/$53.6 million).

Ruiz-Gallardón also promised that his city would not spend any money on infrastructure before being chosen.

Spain is one of the European countries most severely affected by the current economic crisis.

"Our obligation is to look to the future and not be short-sighted," said Ruiz-Gallardón.

"We're convinced by then [2020] that Spain will have gotten through the economic crisis and be in fine shape to host.

"The already completed work means the cost of the 2020 bid will be significantly reduced.

"It would also provide an economic boost and reactivate the economies of Madrid and Spain."

Ruiz-Gallardón said he believed there would be enough time to complete the infrastructure between the decision date and the Games, estimating that Madrid already had 80 per cent of it in place.

"Madrid has finished an extremely high percentage of the infrastructure needed for the organisation of the Olympics and Paralympics and can count on the experience of the previous two bids and the recognition of the Olympic family," he said.

The example of Pyeongchang, which were last week awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics following their third consecutive bid, has helped inspire Madrid.

"All our work will focus on convincing the 100 IOC members that our project will be the winner deserves to be based on criteria of efficiency and professionalism," said Ruiz-Gallardón.

It will be Madrid's fourth bid for the Olympics.

They lost out on the 1972 Games at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Rome, polling 16 votes against Munich, the winners with 31.

At the IOC Session in Singapore in 2005 they were knocked out in the third round but it is widely accepted that if they had survived that hurdle and faced London in the final round they would have won because they would have polled more support from Latin America than Paris did.

Four years later they did reach the last round at the IOC Session in Copenhagen but were comprehensively beaten by Rio de Janeiro, who got 66 votes to Madrid's 32.

The bid must still be approved by the Madrid city hall and the Spanish Olympic Committee, which then has to present it to the International Olympic Committee before September 1.

Both are expected to be formalities and Madrid hopes to officially deliver its bid to the IOC in Lausanne on July 29.

Lissavetzky lent his support to the 2020 effort.

"There will be less money spent and absolute transparency in all costs," he said.

"We're thinking about Madrid and its citizens.

"It's a great opportunity to start an economic movement, it's a great opportunity for Madrid and a great opportunity for Spain."

Madrid is set to be joined in the near future by Istanbul after Turkey's Sports Minister Suat Kilic told CNN-Turk television that his country was set to meet all the requirements for hosting the Games.

"Inshallah (God willing), we will bid and fulfil requirements to the letter," Kilic said.

A final decision is expected to be made after meeting between the Turkish Olympic Committee and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

"We are one of the rare countries that can shoulder the financial burden of the Olympics," Kilic said.

Istanbul mounted four consecutive failed bids, for the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

But there will be no bid from Paris following Annecy's disastrous performance in the race for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The President of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) met to review the Annecy bid and said "there will not be a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics".

Annecy were humiliated as they received only seven votes.

France is now expected to prepare for a bid for 2024, which would mark the centenary of the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

"The French Committee will define the conditions for a future project by the end of 2011," it said in a statement.

"A new Olympic bid must have the vision of the sports movement for the sport of the future.

"It must be worked out sufficiently in advance and be carried out in total harmony by the sports movement, the bid city and the state."

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By Duncan Mackay in London

June 17 - Nearly two thirds of the 1.9 million people who applied for London 2012 Olympics tickets missed out in the first round of sales, it has been revealed today.

But they will have the chance to apply again when another 2.3 million when the next window opens on June 24 on a "first-come first-served basis".

A total of 1.2 million people ended up with nothing, with only 700,000, 36 per cent of applicants, being successful, London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton admitted today.

Those who missed out will be given the first opportunity to buy those tickets still available when the next sales window opens at 6am on June 24.

More than three million tickets were bought in the first round, a record for the Olympics, which were first held at Athens in 1896.

"We recognise that a lot of people who have as yet been unsuccessful in that application are clearly disappointed," said Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012.

"That's why we are absolutely determined to do everything we possibly can to get tickets to those people who missed out in the first application.

"Our commitment is to get two-thirds of that 1.9 million people to buy a ticket for the 2012 Games if they want to - and we know they want to be there, they were involved in the application process, are mad sports fans and they want to be there."

When sales reopen those that missed out will have the first opportunity to buy tickets, although 1.7 million of the amount available are for football which is taking place across the country.

Besides football, among the sports were there is a good is good availability is basketball prelminaries, boxing, canoe sprint, hockey, handball, judo, sailing and volleyball.

There are also a limited supply of 40,000 tickets available for athletics, although there are only two sessions containing finals where their availability, including August 10 with the women's 1500 metres where Lisa Dobriskey is expected to be among the medal contenders.

It was also confirmed that over a million additional tickets will be put on sale to the British public from December 2011 right up until Games time, as London 2012 releases contingency tickets and returns from client groups.

These will include the 100 metres, which is expected to feature Jamaica's Usain Bolt and for which London 2012 received 1.3 million applications.

The second round sale will last until 6pm on July 3.

Applicants who received tickets in the first round of sales will also get another chance to purchase tickets in the second round from 6am on July 8 to 6pm on July 17.

Deighton revealed that 1.5 million of the tickets available in the next window will be priced at £50 or less and over half a million of these tickets will be priced at £20 or less.

Sixty sessions with special prices are still available – 33 are in football, and 27 are in the other sports.

People will be able to apply for a maximum of three sessions and six tickets per session for most sports, although football, volleyball and race walking will have larger limits.

Applicants will be notified whether their request for tickets has been successful between 24 and 48 hours after the request is submitted.

Payment will be taken after the 10 day process, over a period of up to four days – and applicants will then be notified that the transaction and ticket purchase is complete.

"We are working hard, venue by venue, to offer all our contingency tickets to the public," said Deighton.

"Some of our venues have yet to be built.

"Others have never seen competitive sport or delivered live TV broadcasts.

"Every venue needs a precise and final seating plan, and we are working through this at the moment.

"As soon as we are able to release these seats, we will, and seats for some of the most popular sports and sessions, and the ceremonies, will be available again next year.

"We will tell our most loyal fans - those who applied in the first round – in advance of these tickets going on general sale so they are ready to apply."

There will be a number of additional opportunities for the British public to get to the Games.

The London 2012 Ticketshare scheme will enable 130,000 schoolchildren to go to the Olympic Games with tickets donated by the Prestige corporate hospitality sales.

The scheme has also seen tickets donated to Tickets for Troops for distribution to the Armed Forces, the British Olympic Association and Sport England.

Olympic Park tickets, giving access to the Park at Games time, will go on sale in 2012.

For full details of which sports, sessions and price categories are still available click here.

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By Tom Degun

June 14 - Sport England has today launched a £32 million ($52 million) National Lottery-funded project to get hundreds of thousands of teenagers and young adults into sport as part of a new programme aiming to fulfil the legacy promise made by London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe to "inspire young people to choose sport".

The new project called Sportivate will give 14-to-25-year-olds who aren't currently playing sport in their own time the chance to receive six to eight weeks of coaching in a sport of their choice.

As part of the Places People Play mass participation legacy programme, Sportivate is aiming to see 300,000 teenagers and young adults completing sports courses over the next four years.

"Lots of young people think sport isn't for them," said Sport England chief executive Jennie Price.

"I would like them to have the chance to discover whether there is a sport they really enjoy, so this programme is all about choice.

"Everyone who takes part will receive high quality coaching - giving them the confidence and skills that will make them want to keep playing in the future."

Sportivate will be delivered by the network of 49 county sports partnerships who will work with local providers and sports clubs to help the youngsters continue taking part long after they have completed their course.

To help inspire and motivate the participants, Sporting Champions - a team of current and retired elite athletes - will visit Sportivate sessions to share their experiences and enthusiasm for sport.

Sport and the Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said: "This £32 million ($52 million) Lottery programme launched by Sport England will give hundreds of thousands of teenagers and young adults across the country the opportunity to try out and get coached in the sport of their choice.

"I'm sure these same young people will also be inspired when the world's greatest athletes compete here at next summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games and will then want to stay involved in sport for many years to come."

The move was also backed by London 2012 hopeful Zoe Smith (pictured) who became the youngest ever weightlifting Commonwealth medallist when she won bronze at the 2010 Delhi Games at the age of 16.

"Getting the chance to get out and try a new sport is fantastic," she said.

"I didn't take up my sport until I was 12 so it just shows if you're up for some fun and trying something new, you can find a sport you really want to stick with."

As an additional incentive, teenagers and young adults who stick with sport will have the chance to enter a ballot for free London 2012 tickets.

Sport England has hundreds of Olympic and Paralympic tickets available for Sportivate participants via the London 2012 Ticketshare initiative.

In order to be eligible for London 2012 Ticketshare, participants will need to complete the sports course, missing no more than one session, and then continue to participate in sport for at least three months.

Sportivate is an inclusive programme that will create opportunities for disabled and non-disabled participants, while courses on offer include eight-week beginners' judo tuition in Lincoln, mixed tennis sessions for 17-to-24-year-olds in Newcastle upon Tyne and a parkour introductory course at Waveney in Suffolk.

In total, Sport England will invest £8 million ($13 million) of National Lottery funding per year over the next four years into Sportivate.

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By Duncan Mackay in London

June 13 - David Beckham today helped worldwide Olympic sponsor Samsung unveil its new logo to be used on all its London 2012 campaigns and advertising, including its sponsorship of the Torch Relay, for which it is a Presenting Partner.

The new logo, known as the Samsung Olympic Visual Identity System (SOVIS) has been designed exclusively for Samsung by award winning London-based artist Kate Moross.

Samsung says the logo has been designed to signify an open invitation from the company to the general public in order to coincide with the marketing campaign's "Everyone's Olympic Games" strapline

Samsung hopes to select from more nominees than ever before to carry the Olympic Flame as it travels the UK in 2012.

To kick-off the process, Beckham announced Gabriella Roseje (pictured above right), an 18-year-old from Bermondsey for her outstanding work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds using her sporting talent, as Samsung's first nomination for a bearer of the Olympic Flame.

They will eventually select 1,360 people to carry the Torch on its 70-day 8,000 mile around Britain, starting in Land's End on May 18, 2012.

"Gabriella is an impressive and inspiring person," said the former England captain durng the launch at East Wintergarden in the shadow of the headquarters of London 2012 in Canary Wharf.

"Not only is she successful in her own right, she willingly supports and helps those around her.

"Gabriella stands out for all the right reasons.

"I'm proud to nominate her as Samsung's first Olympic Torchbearer.

"The nomination campaign aims to give the unsung heroes in communities across the world their chance to shine in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay – it's 'Everyone's Olympic Games'.

"Gabriella is perfect example of the kind of qualities we are looking for in a person to run with the Olympic Flame."

Roseje, whose family sat in the front row proudly watching her being paraded before an audience of dignitaries, including Londo 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe and former world equestrian champion Zara Phillips, eloquently expressed her satisfaction at being chosen by Beckham.

"I am so excited to be chosen by Samsung and David Beckham to become Samsung's first London 2012 Torchbearer nominee," said the teenager.

"My goal is to make a real difference by helping others realise that it's not where you are from in life that's important but where you can go.

"I don't believe I am any different from anyone else, but I do believe that everyone can offer something.

"I hope my nomination inspires others to nominate someone they think goes the extra mile; to be a Samsung Olympic Games Torchbearer."

Samsung has been associated with the Olympic Games for almost 25 years - when they were involved in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul - and has been the Official Wireless Telecommunications Partner of the International Olympics since 1998.

Gyehyun Kwon, Samsung vice-president and head of worldwide sports marketing, says Samsung's "brand awareness was very low when the [Olympic] sponsorship first started - now our marketing has changed from brand awareness to brand preference".

He claims the Olympic marketing campaign is not about driving up sales, but is designed to strengthen the Samsung brand in the UK.

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