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 >>

This man at the 2012 Olympic Games likes pin badges (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)

This man at the 2012 Olympic Games likes pin badges (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)

The unofficial Olympic sport of pin-badge collecting and trading has taken off during the lulls between competition for the real bling on the water here in Weymouth.

One security guard around the Weymouth and Portland sailing regatta venue is sporting a chestful of team badge souvenirs on his chest accreditation lanyard but, rather unsportingly, he and his colleagues  insisted on keeping tight-lipped about their pastime. When asked for an interview and a picture of the collection – Asian pins are the most sought after this games – they would only say they were under strict orders not to speak to anyone, and would not even say which company they were working for.

Perhaps they should lighten up, as the winds have done overnight, preventing the medal race for the men’s 470 dinghy race getting under way at the scheduled 1pm race-off for the medals.

British pairing Stuart Bithell and Luke Patience, guaranteed at least silver, are going head-to-head against Aussies Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page.

With just four points separating the two teams at the top of the leaderboard there was everything to play for in the double-points race, which is expected to turn into a match-racing duel. Read more >>

China's Xu Lijia celebrates winning gold in the Laser Radial sailing class on August 6 (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/GettyImages)

China's Xu Lijia celebrates winning gold in the Laser Radial sailing class on August 6 (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/GettyImages)

Almost two weeks of dazzling action on the water in Weymouth have taken place amid mixed reports of business benefits for local tradespeople, prompting headlines in local newspapers such as: ‘So where is everybody?’.

But Simon Williams, head of Weymouth and Portland 2012 Operations, insists the authorities have delivered on their objectives to stage events that were a success for athletes and spectators, particularly on the Nothe area, the first such ticketed site for Olympic spectators.

“There may be a mixed picture, but overall we had 70,000 visitors in the town over the main [middle] weekend and you cannot rent a house or flat in Portland,” said Williams.

“We have done much to diversify the business market to a whole range of businesses and the TV coverage has been outstanding, showing the geography of the place and the quality of the environment. It’s the first international sailing event held at a world heritage site… There are real and tangible benefits for the long term.” Read more >>

Roger Blitz has written an interesting story here about how Usain Bolt’s megastardom obscures underlying weakness in track and field athletics.

Set aside its showpiece global events and what is left is a sport struggling for sponsors and broadcasters, participants and a grassroots structure.

The earning power of its elite performers, even Usain Bolt, is small compared with their equivalents in other sports.

This prompted us to check how Bolt’s earnings compare with other top global sports stars. The answer, based on Forbes magazine’s latest ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes, helps illustrate how far behind track and field has fallen. The Jamaican sprint champion is the only runner in the top 100 at a lowly 63rd. Even among athletes competing in London he ranks just eighth: 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 >>

Flagbearer Kirani James (C) leads his delegation during the opening ceremony on July 27 (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/GettyImages)

It’s been a historic few days at the games for Guatemala, Grenada and Cyprus, with each country winning its first Olympic medal, reports Darren Wee.

Erick Barrondo of Guatemala won silver in the 20km walk on Saturday, teenager Kirani James of Grenada won gold in the 400m dash on Monday and sailor Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus won silver in the laser class on the same day.

The three athletes became national heroes overnight. Thousands of revellers took to the streets for an impromptu carnival in James’ hometown of Gouyave, while Barrondo took the opportunity to call for “the kids at home to put down guns and knives and pick up a pair of trainers instead”. Read more >>

Schwazer celebrating his victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)

“I wanted everything, but lost everything”.

Alex Schwazer, the Italian race walk champion expelled from the London Olympics for failing doping tests, confirmed his use of EPO and said he acted alone, at a press conference in northern Italy on Wednesday.

Sobbing, the young athlete confessed his sense of “shame”, along with his anxiety of not living up to expectations after winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“For these Games I wanted to be stronger and wasn’t able to say ‘no’ to doping”, he said.

The runner explained that he wanted to quit the sport more than once but felt the pressure of his family and peers to keep on going. “I was tired and fed up”, Mr Schwazer said.

The 27-year old racer said he bought the doping shots in Turkey, in September last year. For €1500, “the pharmacists gave me what I wanted”, he said. His last injection with the blood booster was the day before the test on July 30.

He said he agreed to the tests by the World Anti-Doping Agency in a “conscious suicide”, in order “to be freed from this burden”. Read more >>

Laura Robson (L) and Andy Murray at the end of the mixed doubles tennis (LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)

The sight of victorious Olympic athletes collecting a bunch of flowers along with the all important medal on the podium has caused many an observer to chuckle at the incongruity of that part of the ceremony.

Not so the floral industry, which is churning out 4,400 of these so-called victory bouquets during the main and Paralympic games. How it must pain them to see most of them getting tossed into the crowds by unappreciative Olympians.

We can reveal however that it is not just the florists that are benefiting from this ancient tradition, which dates back to the original Greek games when athletes were crowned with wreaths made of olive leavesRead more >>

From Maija Palmer on our Tech blog:

The mobile phone is emerging as the technology winner in the Olympics, with more and more stats to show that this is how vast numbers of people are finding out information about the games.

Google published some data on Tuesday showing that Olympics-related searches over mobile phone increased 10-fold in the first week of the games, and mobile is trumping any other technology at key moments.

Google’s analysis showed, for example, that searches for Paul McCartney surged when the former Beatle played Hey Jude during the opening ceremony, and the largest proportion of these searches came from smart phones, rather than desktop computers.

The data highlights how much the internet’s landscape is changing.  The London Olympics are proving not just to be the first ‘social media games’ but also one where the mobile internet is coming of age.

In many countries in Europe, around a third of all Olympics related searches came from mobiles and in the UK, mobiles accounted for nearly half – 46 per cent of all Olympics queries.

 Read more >>

Alex Schwazer competing in Barcelona in July 2010 ( JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Alex Schwazer competing in Barcelona in July 2010 ( JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Clean–cut, young and promising. Alex Schwazer was supposed to be a great hope for the Italian Olympics team and fans, yet has become the biggest disappointment of these Games.

The race walk champion was expelled from the London Olympics after testing positive for doping on Monday.

“I was wrong. My career is finished,” said Mr Schwazer, gold medal winner in Beijing in 2008. “I wanted to be stronger for these Olympics,” added the 27-year-old athlete, who is due to give a press conference on Wednesday.

The Italian national Olympic committee removed him from the team and Gianni Petrucci, chairman, spoke of a “bitter day” for Italian sports. “This day has been now ruined by this terrible news that has shocked us. We cannot compromise: one medal down, yet greater cleanliness,” said Mr Petrucci.

Mr Schwazer was not in London, where he was due to defend his title in the 50km race on Sunday. He failed the test for EPO, a blood booster, conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

“I acted alone and take responsibility”, said Mr Schwazer. Read more >>