Monday, May 31, 2004

There's good news and bad news...

Hey up, I'm back from Paris (yeah, had a lovely time, thanks for asking). Two big stories today, one good, one bad.

Let's go with the bad one first - from the Sydney Morning Herald (those Aussies really don't seem to be getting in the spirit). According to the story, costs are spiralling out of control because of the extra security measures being taken. No great surprise really I suppose. The story also talks about US Federal Agents coming to protect US athletes. So that should help Lyndsay rest easy. Then again, maybe not. Full story below... Athens Olympics facing $1.7bn budget blowout

And the good news? Ah, that would be that according to IOC president Jacques Rogge the Games will definitely be ready to start on time. Which is good to know for those of us that have spent a small fortune on flights to get to Athens for Aug 13. Be a blummin' shame if we got there only to find little posters up in the airport asking us to come back next month, Full story below... Rogge says Athens on schedule

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Greetings from Paris...

Hello from a net cafe in Paris where they have a confusing keyboard with an AZERTY as opposed to a QWERTY one. They also have signs up bigging up their bid for the 2012 Games, which we do not have in London.

Funnily enough the big Olympic news of the day comes from outta Paris, with the news that Lyndsay Davenport, who won tennis gold in Atlanta in 1996 and who is in Paris for the French Open, has said she might not come to Athens.

"It's an awkward feeling going somewhere where maybe Americans aren't really wanted," she said.

Which is a pretty ridiculous thing to say. Is she saying that Athenians do not want Americans there? Or the public in general? 0r sports fans? As someone who is going to the tennis finals at the Games, I was hoping to just see the best players. Lyndsay needs to realise that there is a difference between being afraid to go somewhere because of the possible threats from a tiny minority and not being wanted there by the overwhelming majority.

I hope she still comes.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Bits and bobs from the Beeb

Couple of interesting stories from the BBC's Olympic site (

Firstly, according to British Olympic chief Simon Clegg, Britain are expecting to win between 6 and 9 gold medals this summer, compared to the 11 we won at Sydney (which was our best for 80 years). Not quite sure what 9 events he's thinking of - off the top of my head I'm guessing the women's marathon and a bit of rowing are involved, but I can't think of 9 realistic possibles.

Secondly, another article tells of the 2 hour security checks fans can expect to face before each Olympic event they go to - although presumably they're just saying you should make sure you get there 2 hours before the events start in order to make sure. Interesting fact right at the end of the article too - apparently 'About 1.9m out of a total 5.2 million tickets have been sold so far.' Which means 3.3 million are up for grabs when they go back on sale in June. If Mr Clegg would only specify which shooting, sailing or, perhaps, arm-wrestling events he's got marked down for GB wins then I could get myself on the golden trail!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Shall we play catch up? Yes, let's.

Hey up

I've been away for a few days (San Francisco, very nice thanks) so I've not managed to update since last week. So, it's time for an Olympic catch up in Headline News:

Oh yes, he's quite concerned about the whole security issue. And he wouldn't believe me that tickets for the events are reasonably easy to come by or that some of them are quite cheap. Oddly, he didn't seem to speak Greek either. But he did keep bursting into song, albeit somehow grumpily.

The Aussies keep saying it might not be safe to travel to the Games and the president of the Greek organising committee isn't best pleased. According to Gianna Angelopoulos, 'One of our Olympic Advisory group partners, Australia, chose the middle of an overwhelmingly successful IOC coordination commission meeting to release a warning regarding travel to Greece. And I worry that harm is being done to the Olympic Games. I'm concerned that we sent an inconsistent message to those who wish us ill. Telling them incorrectly that there are holes in Athens security procedures, and that our preparations can be circumvented when all of our preparations are designed to achieve the opposite, is bad security strategy.'

In response the Aussie Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said he stood by the advice. Humbug.

Nice cheery story this (ironically coming on the day that The Independent newspaper tells of the worsening situation in Afghanistan) about two women who will be the first females ever to compete for Afghanistan at the Olympics. For the full story see the link: Two Afghan Girls Bid For History At Athens Olympics

Indian sitarist Gaurav Mazumdar - a disciple of Ravi Shankar - will be playing one of Shankar's tunes at the ceremony, as the flags unfurl.

Apparently the United States are providing the Greeks with nuclear detection equipment to help guard the Olympics against a 'dirty bomb'. The machines cost $2.6 million, proof beyond reasonable doubt that the annoying woman sitting across the aisle from me on the plane home today was wrong when she insisted that all electrical goods are ridiculously cheap in the US.

And that's about it at the moment. Hope y'all are doing good. And let's have some comments - those helpful people at made them work (for some reason they weren't) so you might as well take advantage of them!

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Security insurance

Just saw this on the Washington Time's website about NBC...

"For the first time, the threat of violence has led the International Olympic Committee to take out an insurance policy if the Games are canceled by war, terrorism or natural disaster. If the Games are called off, the International Olympic Committee will refund NBC's $793 million rights fee. Also, NBC's production costs are insured by a $160 million policy."

Which is interesting, but, I guess, just realistic on the IOC's part.

Now, where did all that good news get to?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Security Comment

Latest security update from yesterday's English edition of Greece's main right-leaning newspaper Kathimerini.

"Greek troops will be stationed across the country’s railway network during the Olympic Games, providing additional security to that provided by specially trained forces at stations, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said yesterday. The troops will guard sensitive intersections, fuel tanks, tunnels and railway facilities. Liapis requested this of Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos at a meeting yesterday. Officials from the ministries of Defense, Transport and Public Order will meet within the week to plan this.

In Lausanne, after briefing the IOC’s executive board, Athens 2004 Organizing Committee chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said, “Greece has the budget, the personnel and the security strategy we need to do everything humanly possible to protect the Olympic Games.” Sources in Athens said Greek officials last week refused a request by some countries to bring their own armed guards and that their athletes not stay at the Olympic Village."

Sounds like they're getting it all together. Let's hope so anyway.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

In other Olympics news...

...London is one of the five shortlisted cities for the Olympcs 2012 (alongside Paris, New York, Madrid and Russia). Being as I live in London, I feel like I should throw my weight behind the campaign on the miniscule offchance that the head of the IOC is a regular reader af Athes2004blog.


I'll stop now.

BBC SPORT: Olympics 2012 - London Survives Cut

Monday, May 17, 2004

No! Say it isn't so!

Oh dear, oh dear. The very day that England announced their squad for Euro2004, my football-anticipation-joy comes right back down to earth with the news that the Olympic football (or soccer to anybody reading this in the US of A) tournament might be cancelled because of a row over anti-doping codes. But football is my favourite sport And I'VE GOT TICKETS FOR THE OLYMPIC FINAL! Grr. Please don't cancel it. Pretty please.

To read this horribly depressing story click below...

Foxsports News: Soccer 'may be pulled' from Olympics

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Keep your stars and stripes to yourselves...

Interesting piece in the Washington Times today about how US athletes are being told not to celebrate Olympic victories by grabbing a USA flag and thrusting it boastfully around the track. The Americans are, apparently, hoping to use the Games to improve their worldwide image right now. And agressive, jingoistic flag waving would probably have the opposite effect.

"Unfortunately, using the flag as a prop or a piece of apparel or indulging in boasting behavior is becoming part of our society in sport because every night on TV we see our athletes — professional, college or otherwise — taunting their opponents and going face-to-face with each other," says Mike Moran, who's consulting the US Olympic Committee. "We are trying for 17 days to break that culture.'

Whether the athletes will play the blindest bit of notice is, of course, another matter. Full story on the link below. US athletes told to cool it at Olympics

Saturday, May 15, 2004

The weather outlook, hot but not scorching

According to the link below from a San Fran website, Greece's National Meteorological Service say that although the weather in the games will be hot (in the 90sF) it's unlikely that they'll get much higher (only a 4% chance of it hitting 100F). So that's good news.

One puzzling (or perhaps, surreal) quote in the same piece though. They state that the planned roof for the Olympic swimming pool was scrapped 'because of problems with actors'. The problem being, presumably, that actors have no idea how to build a roof and spent their whole time practising lines and emoting! Greek weather service: Olympics will be hot, not scorching

Friday, May 14, 2004

GB training camp in Cyprus

Interesting thing on the BBC 10 o'clock news tonight about the training camp that the British team have set up in Cyprus for the athletes to prepare for the games at. The facilities look really good and it makes you realise how seriously the Brits (and presumably the other big nations) take the Games. But then I guess however seriously they all take it, there's still only 3 medals for each event.

But perhaps the most interesting fact was that the locals have managed to build a full-size 50m pool from scratch in the last three months. If only the building in Athens had been done that quickly...

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The worm has, apparently, turned

Nice to see lots of positive reports in the newspapers this morning about the IOC's green light. It seems almost like the opposite of the old 'they build you up then knock you down' cliche - having reported all the bad stuff for the past few years, the papers actually seem quite pleased to be delivering the good news that things do finally seem to be coming together.

The only slight blot on the Olympic landscape (well, apart from the transport links not being ready yet) is that there is some talk of the Australian government advising citizens not to travel to Greece. The Greeks seem to think this is some sort of confusion - hope it turns out to be so. It's taken long enough to get this positive momentum building - we don't want it to disappear yet!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

All systems go!

According to the BBC, the men from the IOC, they say yes! (Click for full story below)

Hurrah! It all seems to be coming together.

BBC News: Athens given green light

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

What do you think?

Now that I've managed to get onto a few search engines and directories, I seem to be getting a few more visitors. Which is nice. So I thought it was about time I asked you folk that are reading this what you think.

Do you reckon the Games will be ready in time? What are you particularly looking forward to about the Olympics? Read a quirky story about the Games? Or do you know of a young hopeful we should all look out for so that we can tell our friends all about them and then feel incredibly smug and clever when they romp to the gold medal?!

All contributions very welcome - just click the 'E-mail me' thingy over there on the left and I'll post them up (don't forget to say where you're from so that we can share in the global glory of the world wide web!)

The cheery news continues...

This from today's issue of Greek newspaper Kathimerini...

"Draft dodgers promised impunity for August Games

Draft dodgers living abroad will be allowed into Greece to attend the Olympics or Paralympics."

Nice of them to let them in. Although, saying that, notice how it doesn't say anything about letting them out again!

That happy news...

So here's the happy news we've been waiting for. The first bit of the main Olympic Stadium roof has gone on and the second arch will be put on in the next few days. Finally, things seem to be coming together.

It was really good to hear that the workers were cheering and toasting the roof with wine. They've had their fair bit of abuse in the world's media in the past few months and this is probably the first indication we've had that rather than being lazy, good-for-nothings they're actually inspired and motivated workers who are as desperate for things to come together as the rest of us.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Oh dear...

So 100 days to go until the Olympics and this morning 3 bombs went off in Athens (a fourth was diffused). Thankfully nobody was seriously hurt, but the message that bombs can and have been planted in the city is another nightmare for the organisers.

Last time I was in Athens, several Athenians told me they'd be leaving the city during the Olympics - partly because they always clear out in stifling August, but also because of their fear of terrorists.

With the much-publicised problems with infrastructure as well as these bombs, there seems to be a real chance that spectators will simply stay away. The PR for the Games couldn't have been much worse - and it's hard to imagine many people are feeling particularly keen on spending a lot of money to visit them, when they could stay at home in comfort and safety and watch them on the TV.

Here's hoping there's some brighter Olympic news soon.