A tented village designed to promote the culture of African countries taking part in the Olympics has been forced to close amid reports of financial difficulties.
A person familiar with the Africa Village project, which cost about €3m (£2.4m), said there had been problems paying suppliers of the exhibits, which in particular affected the contractors providing security. Read more >>
One of the pleasures of being a journalist writing for a newspaper based in the host country of the Olympics is that other journalists see you as a potential source.
About half a dozen have asked me for quotes or basic information about various aspects of the games, or indeed of British life, in the past 10 days. Questions have ranged from why Britain doesn’t always play football as a single nation (a very good question that all the domestic football associations would probably rather wasn’t repeated too often), to what do we call those funny little bread things with holes running through them (crumpets).
Most recently, I was asked by a US correspondent if I thought the UK was becoming Americanised in its coverage of sport, and whether the entertainments provided at different venues to fill the time between action might be a sign of that process. A few minutes later, another American journalist asked why Brits have such an avid sporting rivalry with Australia. The latter question was one I didn’t enjoy answering at all. Honest. Read more >>
Reporters are issued with a backstage pass to the world. They peek behind the scenery and the facades of art, politics, war or sport. They see the players in these various pageants without greasepaint and often lit in unflattering ways. Much of the mystery that woos the world on the other side of the limelight has its magic stripped away when the smoke and mirrors are in the reporter’s line of sight.
It is not surprising that cynicism is a common by-product of the access-all-areas world journalists inhabit.
It is a cumulative process, too: sufficient exposure can make even the extraordinary seem routine. Sports reporters more than most experience a cycle of events: football seasons; World Cups; Olympics – all with dates inked on calendars far in advance. After a while, even genuine expressions of delight at a sporting performance can seem forced; cynical curmudgeonliness is the path of least resistance. The venality that surrounds the Olympic movement makes this especially easy.
So let this not be considered a small thing: last night in London’s Olympic Stadium I saw a man I have known for 20 years, a hardened sports hack, a doyen of his trade, a man renowned for his “gloryschmertz”, an observer fiercely proud of his aloof neutrality in the most partisan of atmospheres, this man I saw leap to his feet and clench his fists and roar Mo Farah down the back straight to win the 10,000m. And my friend is not even British. Read more >>
In terms of making friends and influencing people, it would be hard to match the feat of David McNeill, the Australian 5,000m runner, and Matthew Mahon, a board member for Athletics Australia, who this morning rescued the beloved dog of the UK’s top civil servant in the ministry responsible for the London 2012 games.
While Jonathan Stephens was hard at work in London in his role as permanent secretary at the Department of Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, his wife Penny was walking their frisky golden retriever Mia by the banks of a river near their home in Tonbridge, Kent.
The dog chased a ball into the water, a tributary of the Medway, but could not get out because the bank was too deep and steep.
“All I was able to do was to keep her head up out of the water, but that was not a long term solution,” Mrs Stephens told the FT. Read more >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>