The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 and the Olympics in general up until 2007.

Friday, December 01, 2006

China Relaxes Rules

China has announced that it will relax some of its restrictions on foreign reporters. It says that it will allow foreign media greater freedom to travel and report in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The regulations will come into effect on 1 January 2007, and will temporarily abolish requirements that currently prohibit foreign reporters from traveling or conducting interviews without government approval.

The new rules state that only the consent of the interview subject is needed.

Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said:

"It is crystal clear that as long as the interviewee agrees, you can do your reporting."

Melinda Liu, president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China and Beijing bureau chief for Newsweek, said:

"In general, this is progress in terms of liberalizing the conditions under which foreign journalists work in China."

However, the new Olympic regulations contain loopholes and expire on October 17th 2008.

Liu, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said:

"Foreign journalists will not limit their activities to the Games themselves. They will also cover politics, science, technology and the economy.

The 'related matters' ... actually expands the areas on which foreign journalists can report

The question is, what will happen after the 17th of October 2008?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Over Budget and Overdue

In another example of the gross mismanagement and incompetence that is plaguing the organisation and planning of the 2012 London Olympics, the new plans for a "slimmed-down" Olympic aquatics centre have been unveiled that show a budget overrun of £25M and a completion date that is three years late.

When the designs were first submitted last year, Tessa Jowell, the Olympics minister, reportedly claimed that "a change in the specification had almost doubled the costs, which is simply unacceptable".

Despite that attempt to rein in the costs, the budget is still going to overrun by £25M.

To add to the Olympics misery Jack Lemley, the Olympics chief who resigned over the spiralling costs, accused Jowell of "mud slinging". This is based on reports that Jowell, whose husband faces criminal trial in Italy, secretly told MPs that Lemley was too sick to continue in his job.

Jowell had allegedly said that he had suffered a stroke and that he "fell asleep in meetings".

Lemley was in fact being treated for an irregular heartbeat, just like Tony Blair's "minor problem" in 2004.

When he resigned, Lemley said:

"The costs are going to go up on an exponential basis and I'm just not going to be part of that."

Jowell, needless to say has let it be known, via a spokesman, that she disputes Lemley's claim:

"We are not aware that she had any conversations in which she said what you are describing."

Politicians are not fit to run a brothel, let alone organise a multi billion pound event such as the Olympics.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rats in a Sack

It is a rare event indeed when I find myself agreeing with a Liberal Democrat. However, I am more than amused and in agreement with the description by Don Foster (Liberal Democrat Culture spokesman) of the politicians involved in the Olympics planning debacle as being like "rats in a sack"

A very fitting description indeed!

Foster has called upon the Labour Party to stop fighting "like rats in a sack" over the funding of the 2012 Olympics in London, and to "shut up" until the final budget is sorted out.

Hah! If only politicians could be made to shut up!

Foster's call came after a particularly shambolic week, in which Ken Livingstone (mayor of London) and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell publicly disagreed over the budget for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Foster has correctly identified that public confidence in the Olympics is "ebbing away", and that the country would face "serious difficulties" if the in-fighting didn't end soon.


"This is nonsense arguing going on. We have got two different Government departments, we have got Ken Livingstone, we have got the Leader of the House, all acting like rats in a sack fighting each other. This isn't what it should be about".


"Nobody knows where we stand and confidence in our ability to deliver the Olympics is sadly ebbing away when it is going to be absolutely fantastic. We should be celebrating it and I wish people frankly would shut up."

Quite rightly he is calling for a proper budget, which should be independently audited and presented to Parliament and the people. However, this budget should have been prepared and audited prior to the bid being put forward for the Games. That way we would have had a say as to whether we really wanted the Games or not, rather than having them foisted on us as a fait a compli.

As Foster says:

"If confidence ebbs away at the rate it is doing at the moment then I think we are in serious difficulties."

Never leave large scale projects in the hands of politicians, they are not capable of running them without allowing their own egotistical self interest to take priority.