Monthly Archives: July 2012

Hannah Kuchler

The start of the opening ceremony on July 27 (ANTONIN THUILLIER/AFP/GettyImages)

The writer of the Olympic opening ceremony has criticised David Cameron for defending Dow Chemical, one of the sponsors of the games, and called on the government to help make the Olympics a space for resolving conflict.

Frank Cottrell Boyce, who worked with director Danny Boyle in creating last Friday’s spectacle, said the project was wrought with moral difficulty. He also criticised another corporate sponsor – Visa – for their Olympic park ”proud to only accept visa” ads - and G4S, the outsourcing company which failed to supply enough security guards for the games. Read more >>

We are investigating reports of hooliganism in an Olympic sport! But, English readers will be relieved to note, it does not involve their football fans. In fact, it does not involve football at all.

My colleague Vanessa Kortekaas is hot-footing it to the basketball arena after reports that police officers were called in to deal with a group of rowdy supporters. Until we know if it’s true, I won’t say which country the alleged troublemakers are said to be from.

18.30 UPDATE: So, we can confirm that there was an incident involving hooliganism and racist chanting at the Lithuania v Nigeria men’s basketball game on Tuesday afternoon. At least one person was removed from the arena by the police after complaints from the public at both that game and at the last game the Baltic team played, on Sunday, against Argentina. The FT has been told by security officials that the man, who was later arrested on suspicion of “racially aggravated chanting”, was a Lithuanian supporter. Read more >>

Rupert Murdoch at the Sun Valley conference on July 13. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Rupert Murdoch will be making an appearance at the Olympic Games this week, when he attends an evening of swimming finals as the guest of Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.

It will be Mr Murdoch’s first appearance in the public eye since he gave evidence to the Leveson inqury into press standards last May. A person familiar with his movements said that he would be visiting the aquatics centre in Stratford, east London, the main base for the Games, with his wife Wendi Deng.

The person said that Mr Johnson had invited Mr Murdoch because he was “the single biggest investor in British sport in recent years”, a reference to the billions of pounds that British Sky Broadcasting pours into buying the rights of Premier League football, cricket, rugby and other sports.

BSkyB is also the sponsor of the team which was responsible for the first ever British winner of the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins, earlier this month. Read more >>

Tom Daley practicing at the Aquatic Centre during previews for the London Olympic games. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Police have arrested a 17-year-old in Weymouth, Dorset, on suspicion of sending “malicious communications” to the British diver Tom Daley.

The communications in question were alleged Tweets which Daley said he had been sent after he and Pete Waterfield failed to win a medal in the 10m synchronised diving competition.

The first tweet, which the diver retweeted to his 792,000 followers on the social media site, told Daley: “You let your dad down i hope you know that.”

Daley’s father died of brain cancer last year and the 18-year-old diver had said he was inspired by that loss to try to win an Olympic medal.

On the face of it, while grossly offensive and showing a lack of taste and decency which no human being could be proud of, that Tweet would not merit prosecution. After all, many public figures receive offensive Tweets all the time. You only have to look at some of the messages sent to leading business figures such as @rupertmurdoch, who choose to inhabit the Twittersphere. Read more >>

Just published from our Business blog:

Halfway through my evening at Wembley Stadium on Sunday I realised why watching Olympic football – or any Olympic sport for that matter – feels strange: it’s the absence of advertising. A stadium normally decked in every type of corporate branding was dominated instead just by the Olympic rings, the participants’ flags, and the purple hues of London 2012.

 Read more >>

Esther Bintliff

China's Ye Shiwen after the finish of the women's 200m individual semi-final on Monday. MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/GettyImages

China's Ye Shiwen after the finish of the women's 200m individual medley semi-final on Monday. MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/GettyImages

Your morning warm-up is a bit late today, for which, apologies – we’ve been busy with the big story which remains Ye Shiwen, the 16-year-old Chinese swimmer whose incredible performance on Sunday raised some eyebrows. Shiwen, who will be aiming for another gold today, was quoted by China News Service as saying: “My results come from hard work and training and I would never use any banned drugs.” We’ll have more on this story from our Beijing bureau very soon. UPDATE: The story is now live: Chinese social networks defend Shiwen.

Highlights from today’s schedule include:

Swimming - Men’s 200m Butterfly final due to take place at 19.47. Michael Phelps will be out to avenge Saturday’s defeat by his US teammate Ryan Lochte. Ye Shiwen will also be back in the pool for the Women’s 200m individual medley final at 20.39.

Equestrian - The British equestrian team will be looking to overhaul rivals Germany in the final section of the three-day event competition, the showjumping, in Greenwich Park

Gymnastics - China, the US and Russia are likely to battle it out for the podium spots in the final of the women’s team. Read more >>

 As the world’s eyes turn to London, the city’s street artists have sought out their share of the limelight, writes Conor Sullivan.

An artist who goes by the street name Loretto drew this anti-Olympic piece at Bankside adjacent to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, next to where the torch relay passed on its final lap last week.

The renowned street artist Banksy has also produced some wry observations on the games. One which depicts an Olympic javelin thrower hurling a missile is perhaps a take on the controversial anti-aircraft weaponry that the military has stationed in Bow Quarter, a residential area close to the Olympic Park.

 Read more >>

I’m at the Olympic hockey venue to watch Team GB take on Argentina in the men’s competition. This is a fixture with some added spice since Fernando Zylberberg, the former captain of the Argentine side, was shown in a television advert filmed in the Falkland Islands, the South Atlantic territory disputed between the two nations.

There have been fears that Argentinian athletes might stage protests of some kind during the London Olympics in this, the 30th anniversary year of their nation’s attempt to take control of the islands. Read more >>

The BBC sport site had its busiest day ever on Sunday as people flocked to watch Olympics coverage online, reports Rob Budden.

The BBC is delivering 24 simultaneous live channels over the web covering all the events at the Games. That equates to a total of 2,500 hours of coverage – 1,000 hours more than the Beijing Games.

On Sunday bbc.co.uk/sport had 8.3m global browsers – 2.2m of these overseas. These are big numbers. Indeed, the Olympics may well emerge as a key event in changing viewing habits for millions, with many no doubt watching sports content online for the first time. Read more >>

David Cameron (CL) and Francois Hollande (CR) at the women's preliminaries Group B handball match France vs Spain on July 30, 2012 (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/GettyImages)

Perhaps it was David Cameron’s Olympic dream to watch France vs Spain in the women’s handballRead more >>

Kiran Stacey

Empty seats at the dressage event

From our Westminster blog:

David Cameron met with his “Olympics Cabinet” today to discuss, among other things, what can be done about the spectacle of rows of empty seats at Games venues. Various events, including swimming and even the popular beach volleyball, have not been full, despite huge public demand for tickets.

The problem, Downing street explained today, is not so much the sponsors (as some have suggested), but accredited Games officials, who have a certain allocation for each event, but don’t necessarily turn up.

So what did the prime minister tell the hapless official from the organising committee (Locog) who briefed him about the problem this morning?

 Read more >>

Roger Blitz reports on the ‘Olympic squaddies’, whose khaki uniforms are now as familiar around the games venues as the logo and livery of London 2012. Read more >>

Esther Bintliff

France's Yannick Agnel (C) competes in the men's 200m freestyle semi-final swimming event on July 29, 2012 (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/GettyImages)

After the pageant and pandemonium of Friday’s opening ceremony, we’re now firmly into the Olympics events schedule, with a jam-packed day ahead.

Highlights include:

Swimming – Tonight we’ve got the finals of the Men’s 200m Freestyle, the Women’s 100m Backstroke, the Men’s 100m Backstroke and the Women’s 100m Breaststroke. Michael Phelps will be looking to improve on his sole silver medal from the first two days of competition, Rebecca Adlington will return to the pool for the women’s 800m freestyle, and Gemma Spofforth will be hoping to impress with her 100m backstroke. In the Men’s 200m freestyle final, China’s Sun Yang is the main threat to Ryan Lochte of the US. Heats begin at 10am.

Diving – Great Britain’s Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield compete in the Men’s synchronised 10m platform final at 15.00

Gymnastics – Men’s team final at 16.30 Read more >>

General Electric chief executive, Jeff Immelt, is in town for the games, which GE sponsors, and happy to talk about most Olympian matters, except one: Mitt Romney, writes Pilita Clark.

“I’m not going to touch that one,” said Mr Immelt, when invited to comment on the storm of controversy stirred when the Republican presidential contender said Olympic-eve stories of immigration officer strikes and private security personnel shortages were “disconcerting”. The comments had prompted Boris Johnson, London mayor, to encourage a crowd of thousands in Hyde Park to roar their disapproval at Mr Romney for appearing to suggest the capital was not ready to host the games. Read more >>

At the Rome Games of 1960, the British runner Peter Radford won bronze in the 100m sprint. Radford, now 72, was one of the former British medallists honoured in London’s opening ceremony on Friday night.

Yet while banks of seats have remained empty at many Olympic events on the first weekend of competition, he will not be attending a single event at London 2012. The organisers have not given him a ticket. All he received for participating in the opening ceremony was a free one-day Oystercard to use public transport: while most of the sponsors arrived at the stadium in corporate buses, he came and went on London Underground.

Radford, a former chairman of UK Athletics and now professor of sport at Brunel University, says none of the other British medallists he has spoken to had been given free tickets to the games. “It’s a general policy, as far as I can see,” he says.

 Read more >>

Hannah Kuchler

As performers dressed up as Jarrow marchers and suffragettes to play their part in an Olympic opening ceremony which celebrated dissent, present-day protesters were being arrested on the streets of London.

Protesters claimed they were “kettled” – pushed into a cordoned-off area – by police near the Olympic Park on Friday evening as anti-Olympics demonstrators bolstered the ranks of the hundreds of cyclists who took part in the regular “Critical Mass” event.

More than 180 people were arrested for breaching one of the conditions applied to the protest, that it must stay south of the river Thames, by heading towards the stadium at Stratford. Four have been charged, with the remaining 178 released on bail pending further enquiries, the Met police saidRead more >>

Gideon Rachman

Unlike my more privileged colleagues, I do not have a press pass. I have been taking part in the spectator marathon – which had been advertised as a grim and gruelling event.

On Saturday I set myself a tough challenge – get to the Excel centre for the boxing. Unlike the main Olympic Park, which is served by several Underground lines, the Excel can only be reached by the Docklands Light Railway. I have always thought of the DLR as a toy-town system of the sort beloved by urban planners, but useless for actually getting around. In the event, however, we whizzed through Docklands and even got seats on the train.

Spectators are advised to get to events two hours early, to get through heavy security checks. But we actually breezed through in minutes. Even the emergency deployment of the military as security guards appears to have added a dimension to the experience. People were actually posing for photos with the soldiers – which I cannot imagine them doing with the average G4S security guard, whose uniforms are rather less fetching.  Read more >>

One person rather anxious about whether the Queen’s show-stopping acting debut in the opening ceremony would go down a storm with the British public was the head of state herself.

 That much can be gleaned from Boris Johnson’s account of a conversation the London mayor had with “The Actress” the morning after the world saw her play herself opposite Daniel Craig’s James Bond in a film sequence for the ceremony. Read more >>

Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony contained some pretty stark messages as it told the story of Britain, from a green and pleasant land raped by industrial capitalism. He had the NHS front and centre of a section that had both uplifting and dark messages about the literature that Britain has produced.

Extraordinarily, Mr Boyle persuaded the Queen to act in a video sequence of the ceremony, then presented her as if she were parachuting into the Olympic stadium alongside James Bond. The Queen then made her real entrance, late enough to miss most of the political messsages. Read more >>

Hannah Kuchler

Protesters see the games as a symbol of the widening inequality in London, claiming the poor have been shut out of both the Olympics and their legacy. Sponsors are targets either because they represent big business or, in the case of Dow Chemicals, because of links to a previous disaster. Read more >>