David Cameron

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 >>

James Blitz

Vladimir Putin takes part in a judo training session in December 2009 (ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin’s visit to London on Thursday is probably the most remarkable diplomatic moment of this Olympic fortnight. Mr Putin is not coming to the UK on an official visit – he’s here in a private capacity to watch Olympics judo. But this is the first time he has been in London for a bilateral visit since 2003, when he was still viewed positively by some in the west and was accorded a state visit by Tony Blair’s government. An awful lot has changed since then and hence it is a moment to watch.

Ever since the 2006 murder in London of Alexander Litvinenko, the former KGB agent, relations between London and Moscow have been very frosty. Britain’s security services have long taken the view that the murder was carried out at the behest of the Russian state, and the brutality of the killing – by means of polonium poisoning – has never been completely eradicated from British minds. As a result, there has been only one visit by a British prime minister to Russia in the six years since then (by David Cameron in 2011). All other meetings with Russian leaders have been at international summits.

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Hannah Kuchler

The start of the opening ceremony on July 27 (ANTONIN THUILLIER/AFP/GettyImages)

The writer of the Olympic opening ceremony has criticised David Cameron for defending Dow Chemical, one of the sponsors of the games, and called on the government to help make the Olympics a space for resolving conflict.

Frank Cottrell Boyce, who worked with director Danny Boyle in creating last Friday’s spectacle, said the project was wrought with moral difficulty. He also criticised another corporate sponsor – Visa – for their Olympic park ”proud to only accept visa” ads - and G4S, the outsourcing company which failed to supply enough security guards for the games. Read more >>

David Cameron (CL) and Francois Hollande (CR) at the women's preliminaries Group B handball match France vs Spain on July 30, 2012 (JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/GettyImages)

Perhaps it was David Cameron’s Olympic dream to watch France vs Spain in the women’s handballRead more >>

Helen Warrell

Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Boris Johnson probably put it best when he said this morning that the geiger-counter of Olympo-mania was “creeping towards the red zone”. The UK is abuzz and senior politicians – already relieved that the Olympics are finally distracting from Britain’s economic woes – have entered fully into the manic spirit.

First off, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt provided some unexpected entertainment when he waved a hand bell rather too enthusiastically during the “all the bells” celebration on HMS Belfast to mark the start of the games. The bell flew off its handle, narrowly missing the crowds on deck. “Oh, oh dear! Are you all right? Health and safety!”, Mr Hunt cried, in a very British way. He later recovered enough to laugh off the incident with a humour rare among politicians who have suffered televised mishap. “I was ringing a bell in a very excited way and the bell actually collapsed in my hand and went flying off,” he told the BBC. “It was a clanger, if you’ll forgive the awful pun.” Read more >>