London

Exactly one year on from the London riots, the UK is embracing two multicultural heroes: the Somali-born Mo Farah who won the men’s 10,000 metres on Saturday, and Jessica Ennis, queen of the heptathlon whose father is a painter and decorator originally from Jamaica. Already Farah and Ennis are being called role models. In a perfect world, their gold medals would change views about black and mixed race Britons. Unfortunately, that probably won’t happen.

On the face of it, Farah seems the perfect figure to challenge racist stereotypes about black British youths, and to offer those youths someone to emulate. In origin, he resembles many of the young black men from poor backgrounds who were disproportionately represented among the rioters. Farah – who came to Britain aged eight, was raised in tough Feltham, got into fights at school, and once jumped naked from a bridge into the river Thames after a night out – might have been one of them had life turned out differently. Instead he discovered discipline and running.

Sadly, his success and Ennis’s will probably serve only to confirm racist views of black people. The black person as athlete (or musician) is itself a longstanding racial stereotype. The Nazis dismissed the triumphs of the black American Jesse Owens at the Berlin Games of 1936 by saying he had animalistic physical gifts. Countless black athletes have succeeded since Owens. Their triumphs do not change stereotypes. Read more

Gideon Rachman

The stands at Olympic events are dotted with small children. Their parents have usually kitted them out in expensive replica kits. It is clearly all meant to be a great family day out, a treasured memory and so on.  But, usually, it does not work out like that.

The problem is that the average five year-old has limited patience with watching the heats for the women’s shot put – even if the tickets were fiendishly expensive and hard to get hold of. Young children are also bad at dissembling. I was in the Olympic Stadium on Saturday morning, as Jessica Ennis closed in on gold in the heptathalon. The adults in the crowd were going crazy, as she prepared for the long-jump. But the child behind me, made it clear that he was much more interested in eating a Kit-Kat.  As the morning wore on, his hapless parents were ground down by their toddler’s repeated question – “Is that one Usain Bolt?” After a couple of hours, Bolt actually did appear to run his heat. But the kid had long since interest and was now campaigning to go for a wee. Read more

Helen Warrell

David Cameron at the track cycling on day 6 of the Olympic Games ( Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

David Cameron at the track cycling on day 6 of the Olympic Games ( Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

First it was a quiet retreat, as the booming transport announcements from Boris Johnson advising Londoners not to “get caught out” by the pressure of Olympic traffic were turned off.

Now ministers are in full U-turn mode on warnings of transport overload, with David Cameron entreating visitors to return to the capital amid fears that organisers’ previous scare stories of packed tubes and jammed mainline stations have left theatres, restaurants and shops empty.

Speaking to Sky News last night, the prime minister said he was confident that fears of transport chaos had been “defeated” and that it was time for people to return to the city.

“People said also that London wouldn’t cope, the traffic would grind to a halt, the capital city wouldn’t manage, that hasn’t been the case,” Mr Cameron said. “Clearly there is a challenge now though to say to Londoners, to the British public … London’s working well, it’s open for business, come back into the capital, come and shop, come and eat in London’s restaurants and let’s make sure that all of London’s economy benefits from this.” 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

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

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