News - Olympic Games


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."


By Duncan Mackay

Minister Mark Arbib.Australia's top athletes are to receive an extra $3 million (£2 million) in funding to help them prepare for next year's Olympics in London following an announcement by Sports Minister Mark Arbib (pictured) today.

The increase takes the total funding for the Government's Direct Athlete Support scheme to $7.43 million (£4.8 million) a year and will ensure that more than 650 athletes across 30 sports will be supported.

"We think this is a fantastic result for our athletes," said Arbib.

"To put this into some sort of context, in 2005, when Direct Athlete Support first came in, it helped about 105 of our athletes, now it will support 665 athletes.

"It is something we are very proud of and will go a long way to assisting our athletes on their way to London and other World Championship events.

"We know international sport is only getting tougher, and what we are seeing when we travel overseas is other countries are investing more and more in their teams and also their training facilities and sports science.

"There is no doubt about it, world class sport is becoming more and more competitive and the Australian government wants to ensure our athletes are the best prepared."

In last year's budget, the Government announced spending of $324.8 million (£210.2 million) over four years - including $195.2 million(£126.3 million) in new funding - of which $237 million (£153 million) was for elite sports.

Athletes who are ranked in the top four in the world in their sport receive $13,000-$21,000 (£8,500-£13,500) a year, while those in the top 10 get $10,000 (£6,500) per annum.

"Obviously in the last couple of years the competition from our overseas competitors has become much more so we need to make sure that they get the same access that our other Olympians get and that's happened, so that's a good thing," said Arbib.


By Duncan Mackay at SportAccord in London

Crystal Palace National Park, London.Brazil is to use the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre as its training base for the London 2012 Games, it has been announced.

More than 200 Brazilian competitors are expected to use the South London facility before and during the Games under an agreement signed by Carlos Nuzman, President of both the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and the Brazilian Olympic Committee, and Crystal Palace operators GLL Sport Foundation.

"Signing this historic agreement is a major step in the preparation plans for Team Brazil in 2012, while also laying the foundations for Brazil's planning for the 2016 Games," said Nuzman, who signed the official agreement during SportAccord here.

"We are confident that Crystal Palace National Sports Centre will offer the best possible training and preparation environment for our athletes, enabling them to achieve the best possible sporting results.

"In addition, the sports centre will house all members of the Brazilian delegation not accredited to the Olympic Village such as doctors, assistant coaches and physiotherapists - forming the headquarters for Brazil during the London Games."

The agreement to establish a 2012 HQ next summer will be the first time this style of preparation base has used by Brazil, who are hoping for a good performance to help set them up for Rio 2016.

A full range of Olympic athletes and technical staff will be hosted at the Centre, including volleyball, beach volleyball, handball, basketball, taekwondo, boxing, athletics, swimming and diving.

Brazil sent a team of 277 competitors to Beijing, who competed in 24 sports.

They finished 23rd in the overall medals table with 15 medals, including three gold.

The National Sports Centre is currently the subject of interest from the local Championship club, Crystal Palace, who want it as a replacement for their current stadium at Selhurst Park.

But local officials are delighted that the deal with Brazil means that they will have some involvement in London 2012.

"This is great news for London," said London Development Agency chief executive Peter Rogers.

"By coming to Crystal Palace, Brazil's Olympians will enjoy some of the best sporting facilities in Britain as they prepare for London 2012.

"The London Development Agency has invested over £17 million ($28 million) bringing the National Sports Centre up to modern international standards.

"This investment is now being enjoyed by world class athletes and the local community alike."

Further preparation camps are also already being planned between GLL and the Brazilian Olympic Committee for 2011 and beyond 2012.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to embrace the Olympic message in the local community as well as to forge international links with the host nation for 2016," said Peter Bundey, the GLL director.

"We are confident that Crystal Palace will deliver the ideal base for Brazil's top class athletes."

By Duncan Bech, PA

The inclusions of players like Chris Ashton (right) could raise the profile of the sport. zimbio.comThe International Rugby Board are content for the sport's Olympics debut to be contested by sevens specialists rather than household names.

Crossover between the sevens circuit and full Test rugby is non-existent now due to the demands of both formats of the game.

The presence of global stars such as England's Chris Ashton over little-known players on the sevens circuit would give the sport a far bigger profile at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Mike Miller, the IRB's chief executive, accepts coaches will face difficult decisions over selection but insists sevens will be a success at the Olympics with or without star names.

"It would be very difficult for teams to pick their better-known players," said Miller.

"You'll have people who play sevens on a regular basis in the world series. They are professional sevens players.

"If you have a good team, a settled team that knows each other, but the XV guys suddenly think 'there's an Olympic medal available here, we want this', the coach has a decision to make.

"Does he break up the team and bring someone in who may disrupt things, thinking 'he's a big name, can I turn him down'?

"It's very difficult and I wouldn't like to be a sevens coach, especially in the year before the Olympics.

"We understand that the appeal of the players is important, but if you're a coach you don't give a damn about appeal. All you care about is keeping your job.

"We need to build up stars in sevens, which we will do over the next couple of years.

"We will not tell teams who to pick, it's up to them to decide.

"The fans who are new to rugby aren't going to know who Dan Carter or anyone else is anyway. Instead, they'll watch the sport and judge it by itself.

"People in the traditional countries, who love the sport, will watch it anyway. I don't think it's that important.

"Our issue is not whether the big names want to do it, but are they worth a place?"

Miller believes there is little chance of sevens emulating the success of Twenty20 cricket by encroaching into the popularity of 15-a-side rugby.

"They are totally different games. In terms of 15s we already have a sport that is modern-era friendly," he said.

"It's good for television and only takes a couple of hours to play.

"If you're comparing something that takes five days to something that takes just several hours, that's a huge change.

"The difference between sevens and 15s in that way, for TV, sponsors and fans, is nothing like the massive change that there is in cricket.

"Our view is that rugby will grow, whether it's sevens, 15s, beach, tag or touch - if we get a ball in people's hands and see it on TV."

Miller's optimism over the growth of rugby comes on the day that the IRB announced the findings of a major report that showed a 19% increase in global participation since the 2007 World Cup.

In Africa and South America significant increases of 33% and 22% respectively have occurred.

While participation figures are highest in Europe, non-traditional playing nations in Eastern Europe have also emerged, contributing to the 22% increase seen across the continent as a whole.

Sevens' inclusion in the Olympic Games, event hosting strategies and IRB programmes and investment are given as the reasons for the increase.

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