London

Enough of the screaming roars of London 2012 crowds. All is silent and reverential at the Copper Box in Stratford’s Olympic Park.

The venue for Olympic handball is now hosting goalball, played by blind Paralympians or those with partial sight.

Blindfolded to ensure all players have equal (dis)ability, the three players on each side defend a goal 1.3m high and 9m wide.

Goals are scored by rolling the ball at high speeds of up to 60kms an hour. Players defending their goals prostrate themselves across the court to prevent shots going into their net.

All of which requires silence from the crowd so that the players can hear the ball charging towards them. Read more

The US is witnessing a quadrennial surge of interest in the sport of complaining about NBC’s approach of saving the best Olympic action until primetime, writes Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson.

Figures from operators of virtual private networks suggest that viewers who cannot wait until 11pm to see Usain Bolt and do not have the pay-television subscription needed to see live footage on NBC’s web and mobile services have been looking elsewhere.

Expat Shield, a VPN that provides UK web addresses to overseas residents enabling them to view BBC broadcasts that would otherwise be blocked, reports that installations from the US shot up from an average of 250 a day before the Olympics began to 4,900 a day in the first week of the games. Read more

For all its foibles, shortcomings, and outright fails, the ticketing system of the London 2012 Olympic Games had us hooked. At its mercy, we were stuck refreshing the page again and again hoping to strike Olympic pay dirt.

 

Olympic Park in the distance. So close, yet so far… Read more

It’s official. London has staged the most amazing, incredible and unbelievable summer Olympics of the century, writes Andrew Hill.

A quick trawl through Factiva’s database of new articles produces 10,314 instances of writers, athletes or spectators using the word “amazing” in an Olympic context since the Games opened on July 27. That is on top of 6,185 “incredibles” and 3,142 “unbelievables”. Read more

Heathrow’s luggage handlers are bracing themselves for a back-breaking day on Monday, when all of the Olympians who have trickled into London over the past few weeks head home in one fell swoop. Worse yet, the airport expects the average number of bags to rise from two pieces of luggage per athlete to three.

Which raises the question: how many London 2012 T-shirts, double-decker bus keychains and stuffed Paddington Bears does it take to fill a whole other suitcase?

Well, it turns out quite a bit of the space will be taken up by bedding, since it has become Olympic tradition for athletes to take home the duvets provided in their rooms. Read more

Walking along the South Bank I saw a surprising sight: a man and a woman daring to venture out in broad daylight clad head to toe in Spain’s garish Olympic kit, with not even a blush, writes Carola Long.

For anyone who missed the furore over Spain’s cut price garb here’s why one might have expected them to stuff their red and yellow tracksuits back in their lockers before leaving the Olympic village.

Bosco, the Russian sportswear brand, provided the kits, saving the Spanish government  €1.5m according to Alejandro Blanco, chairman of the Spanish Olympic Committee. Blanco claimed a fiscal victory — given Spain’s ailing economy — but the designs were widely deemed a style defeat. Read more

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

Esther Bintliff

Following a spate of expulsions from London 2012 in recent days, we thought it might be helpful to give you a little cut-out-and-keep guide to staying IN the Olympics. Stick to these rules†, and when you finally achieve your lifelong ambition to compete in the world’s biggest sports competition, we think you’ll stand a good chance of at least making it through your event.

  • Avoid hash brownies. This seems relatively simple: don’t eat foodstuffs laced with illegal drugs. Unfortunately, it appears you can never be *quite* sure with homebaked goods, as Nick Delpopolo, the US judoko expelled on Monday, found out to his cost. “My positive test was caused by my inadvertent consumption of food that I did not realize had been baked with marijuana”, he said. If you feel you are also at risk of inadvertently consuming food baked with marijuana, our advice would be two-pronged: firstly, consider avoiding brownies altogether for the year before the games. They are, after all, one of the cake-foods most beloved of hash fiends. Don’t despair: there are lots of other tasty, harder-to-make cake products that are less likely to be spiked, such as the bakewell tart, or the classic battenberg. Our second piece of advice is to avoid altogether any baked goods whose provenance you are unclear about, particularly if they have been made by a member of your peer group with a history of drug use, and are being handed out at, say, a party. If you’re really worried, stick to store-bought treats with the wrapping intact.
  •  Don’t be racist. It’s just plain wrong. Jokes with racist overtones – such as that made by the Greek athlete Paraskevi Papachristou - are a surefire way of getting yourself thrown out of the games. Ditto for offensive remarks directed at another country; Swiss footballer Michel Morganella was rightly expelled when he posted insulting comments about South Koreans.

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Just over half-way through there can be little doubt that the 2012 London Olympics has given Brand Britannia a very big boost, at least qualitatively, writes Sir Martin Sorrell.

Arguments may rage over the quantitative benefit. Will the legacy justify the £9bn infrastructure investment? Will consumer and tourist spending be enhanced to the tune of £850m, as Visa, a major Olympic sponsor suggests? Will advertising and marketing spending be boosted beyond the normal and the £750m predicted?

Whatever the relative strengths of these arguments, there is no doubt the intangible benefits have been considerable in many ways so far.

 Read more