Daily Archives: August 1, 2012

James Murdoch holds a UK and a US passport, but even dual nationality is not enough for his patriotic needs when watching cycling, a sport he has loved since his youth.

Murdoch, as chairman of British Sky Broadcastingin 2008, approved the creation of Team Sky, the professional cycling outfit run by Dave Brailsford whose members keep winning Olympic medals. Read more

Boris Johnson on the London Underground earlier this year. Photo: LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages

Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, is not normally lost for words. But for once the most high-profile local British politician has fallen silent. Transport for London has confirmed it has stopped playing a pre-recorded message by Mr Johnson.

The recording was aimed at encouraging Londoners to replan their journeys to allow for a deluge of visitors expected during the Olympics. The message, which warned of “huge pressure on the transport network” was pulled on Tuesday, a move which coincided with reports that overzealous warnings by TfL had scared people off coming to central London and had damaged business. Read more

Helen Warrell

Photo via @BTLondonLive on twitter

Even before Boris Johnson got stuck in the middle of a zip wire, suspended high above a crowd of Olympic revellers in East London, it was clear that this was not a stunt that any other politician would have attempted.

Wearing a giant red and blue harness over his suit, a hard hat strapped securely under the chin, and waving a Union Jack in each hand, the London mayor’s aerial progress towards spectators was anything but dignified.

The harebrained scheme had been intended to provide a spectacular mayoral entrance to one of the many “live” Olympic events being held around the UK capital, this one sponsored by BT and held in Victoria Park. However, when Boris came to a halt after gradually losing momentum, he was left prone above the assembled masses, unable to do anything except wave his flags in a lacklustre way and call on onlookers to throw up a rope.

The mayor was helped down around five minutes later when officials arrived with a ladder, and his spokesman waved off the incident in typically light-hearted fashion. “Clearly the judges are likely to mark him down for artistic interpretation”, he quipped, adding that Boris wouldn’t be bagging any gold medals but remained “unbowed” by the experience. Read more

Newcastle's Tyne Bridge ahead of the Olympic torch relay (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

While London’s tourist sector has been feeling the downside of the Olympics, Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s hotels and retailers have been enjoying a great boost to business from Olympic football at St James’ Park.

Newcastle has the benefit of hosting football at a city centre stadium, making it relatively easy for businesses to capitalise on the injection of visitors. The timing of the Olympic football matches is also fortunate, since weekend hotel bookings in July and August in Newcastle and neighbouring Gateshead normally dip.

This football-mad city has Olympic matches spread through weekdays and over two weekends, drawing huge crowds. Wednesday’s Brazil v. New Zealand match sold well over 30,000 tickets in advance and Saturday’s men’s quarter final is already a 50,000 seat sellout. Read more

Ye Shiwen after the podium ceremony of the women's 200m individual medley final on July 31. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/GettyImages)

Say what you wish about Ye Shiwen, but the Chinese swimmer whose exploits have dominated talk in the early days of the games gave a remarkably polished performance at her press conference on Tuesday night.

A packed room listened intently on headphones to the translation of her answers to repeated questions about her thoughts and reaction to the storm of controversy about whether or not she is “clean”.

The press conference lasted about 20 minutes, and although a US swimmer shared the stage with her, pretty much all the questions were directed at the Chinese girl.

Ye is 16 years old, but came across as a veteran rather than a novice. No coaches, no minders, came between her and the media. That may not sound out of the ordinary, but four years ago at the Beijing Olympics they hovered around the press conferences to shield and protect the Chinese athletes, particularly the younger ones, from awkward probing by the media. Read more

Esther Bintliff

A referee urges Indonesian and South Korean teams to play fairly in their women's doubles match on July 31. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/GettyImages)

Is it ever worth trying to lose a game so that you can get a better position in the draw for the next round?

Clearly these women badminton players (two pairs from South Korea and one pair each from China and Indonesia) thought so at some brief, misguided moment on Tuesday; they now face a disciplinary hearing. We’ll be bringing you updates on this story as we get them throughout the day.

In the meantime, here are a few highlights from today’s schedule:

Rowing – The Team GB women’s pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning are hot favourites for a gold this morning, reports Ben Fenton. The UK men’s eight team are also tipped to win a medal, although they have to contend with a dominating German crew.

Swimming – After Michael Phelps’ record-breaking performance last night, attention will be back on the pool for the Men’s 100m freestyle final at 20.17.  Read more

Great Britain's Helen Glover (R) and Heather Stanning in the women's pair heat 1 of the rowing event at Eton Dorney on July 28 (ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/GettyImages)

At Eton Dorney, the crowds lining the 2,000m course that is home to Eton College’s rowing teams are already enormous and it is only just past 9am. The system for getting people into the course is incredibly efficient and spectators have been restricted only by the speed with which they can walk.

Even the press have stopped moaning here at Eton Dorney, not least because they can get a hot bacon roll for breakfast.

The rowing competition is all over by 12.30, so it’s definitely a sport for early risers. Which is precisely the reason why I didn’t pursue it myself at university! Read more