The Olympics

The Olympics


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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Site Moved

The Olympics has moved to

Friday, April 27, 2007

Make It Rain

It is estimated that there is a 50/50 chance of it raining on the opening day of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and a further 50/50 chance of it raining on the closing day.

China does not intend to take any chances with the weather, and is going to attempt to make it rain in the period before the games; thus reducing the chances of precipitation on the opening and closing days. Rain will also help clean up the air, in one of Asia most polluted atmospheres.

Chinese meteorologists believe that they can force rain in the days before the Olympics, via the unreliable "science" of cloud-seeding.

Good luck.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Olympic Protesters Detained

Three Americans and a Tibetan-American were detained by Chinese authorities on Mount Everest yesterday, as they called for independence for Tibet and protested against the Beijing Olympics.

The protest was organised by Students for a Free Tibet, which said three people were detained for holding up a banner at a base camp on the Tibetan side of the mountain that read:

One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008.

The fourth person detained by Chinese authorities was a camera person.

"One World, One Dream" is the slogan of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Torch To Ascend Everest

The Olympic torch for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will ascend to the top of Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, and pass through Taiwan according to the organising committee.

Wang Wei, executive vice-president and secretary-general of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, said that the torch would cross Mount Everest.

Wang also said Taiwan had agreed that the island would be on the Olympic torch relay programme.

Taiwan had previously indicated that it was not agreeable to the torch entering the island via China's mainland or Hong Kong and Macao, which are special administrative regions of China.

Wang said the route of the relay was still under discussion with interested cities.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Olympics Threat To The Arts

The London Olympics juggernaut has been accused of crushing funding to the arts. A grouping of the UK's senior arts and sports administrators warned that the lottery money being diverted from the arts to the Olympics would damage the arts, and reduce participation in sport.

The Voluntary Arts Network, the Central Council for Physical Recreation, Heritage Link and the National Council for Voluntary organisations have also written to MP's; warning them that lottery cuts will jeopardise the legacy of the games at community level. They have asked for an urgent meeting with Tessa Jowell (culture secretary), claiming that arts, heritage and sports charities will lose more than £100m.

Jowell intends to divert an additional £675m from the National Lottery, to fund the Olympics behemoth (the budget for which has spiralled out of control).

Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, said:

"There is a spectacular lack of logic in using money earmarked for the arts to plug the holes in the Olympics bills. The money raided from the lottery will largely affect small, innovative, experimental organisations and individuals who are the lifeblood of creativity in the UK. Pulling the carpet out from under them and nobbling their money is undermining the future of our major arts institutions."

Tim Lamb, chief executive of the Central Council for Physical Recreation, said:

"If there is to be a real legacy of increasing participation in sport, it seems ironic, if not perverse, for money to be taken away from community sport to fund the Olympics."

Jowell claims that the diversion of funds will not begin until 2009; a cynic might note that by 2009 Labour will have been kicked out of office, and can therefore wash their hands of the entire sorry affair.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

China's One Ticket Policy

The 7 million tickets for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing are now available for purchase. However, because of China's massive population of 1.3BN, tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies will be limited to only one per person.

Only 25% of the 7 million tickets for sale are available to non residents of China.

The most expensive tickets will be for the opening ceremony on August 8th 2008, which will cost $645. The cheapest tickets for that event will be $26.

Ticket prices for the closing ceremony will range from $19.40 to $390.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chinese Ban Chinglish

In the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Chinese authorities are trying to crack down on "Chinglish" a mangled version of English that is often seen on notices and used by taxi drivers.

One example being this billboard sign:

"Shangri-La is in you mind, but your Buffalo is not."

The Chinese are conscious of the fact that around 500,000 foreign visitors will come to Beijing next year, and the Chinese want to give a good impression.

Liu Yang, head of the "Beijing Speaks Foreign Languages Program" for the city government, said that 6,500 "standardised" English language signs were put up last year on Beijing roads.

However, it is evident that the private sector is not following the rules.

Liu told journalists:

"We will pass the message on to authorities in the advertising sector. If English translation is needed it must be subject to the standards set forth in the regulations.

In the future when we set up new signs in public places in English, we hope all these standards will be followed to avoid more additional mistakes

Liu said Beijing taxi drivers have to pass an English test to keep their licenses. However, as I can attest having been in Beijing a few weeks ago not all of the drivers have such a great command of English.

Liu is quoted as saying:

"The taxi training courses are not working effectively, and there is a problem of taxi drivers missing classes. Taxi drivers need to get their licenses renewed every year, and an English test is now part of that exam. But the exam is not so difficult.

Some taxi drivers do speak some English, and that's a big change from the past.

But the overall level still needs to improve. Some taxi drivers speak no English; they understand no English

However, there is nothing to stop the foreign guest trying to learn Chinese.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Money Well Spent?

Lloyds TSB Marketing Director, Nigel Gilbert, has been defending Lloyds decision to spend an estimated £50M to £80M on sponsoring the London 2012 Olympics.

The critics note that the 2012 Olympics is a "clean" event, whereby there will be no corporate branding at any of the venues.

Gilbert is adamant:

"Make no mistake: we will make money out of this."

He also noted that Lloyds wanted others to profit as well, and then rather over exuberantly stated that Lloyds sees its sponsorship as its duty to the nation.

LOCOG (the organisers of the games) commercial director, Chris Townsend, last week had to deny suggestions that the Olympics could become a marketing disaster on the scale of the Millennium Dome.

However, the auguries do not look good.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Pig In A Poke II

Tessa Jowell has finally announced the budget for the 2012 London Olympics, it will cost £9.3BN (before running costs of £2BN).

In other words, as has been predicted on this site for many months, the costs of the Olympics will be around £12BN.

The question therefore arises, if I could come up with the figure so quickly and so long ago, why the hell did it take Ms Jowell so long?

The Pig In A Poke

Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary entrusted with overseeing the London Olympics 2012, will announce today the budget for the games.

Cynics amongst you might ask why there is still no budget, given the fact that Britain bid for the games some years ago.

One would have thought that a bid could not have been put together, or indeed accepted by the IOC, without a budget. However, in the world of Olympic politics all things are possible.

My own personal guesstimate as to the costs, currently stands at £12BN (which includes £2BN running costs).

At a stormy session of the Commons public accounts committee last week, officials were accused of presiding over a "pig in the poke" and "Alice in Wonderland" finances.


However, whatever the budget figure announced today turns out to be, you can be sure that by the time the Olympics are held in 2012 it will be much more than that.

Never allow politicians to become involved in large scale projects.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Where's The Budget?

The British government is still very reluctant to come clean with the budget for the 2012 Olympic Games, saying that it has yet to be finalised.

The fact that everyone knows that it will hit at least £12BN, seems to have escaped the politicians.

However, I would ask this:

1 How is it Britain put together a bid for the Olympic Games, without having a budget?

2 Why did the IOC award the Games to Britain, if there was not a reliable budget in place?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

2012 Olympics To Cost £12BN

As I predicted some months ago, the costs of the 2012 London Olympics are now expected to hit £12BN (including the £2BN running costs).

The original budget was a paltry £2.4BN.

How can the planners have go this so wrong?

Simple, the budget was not properly put together; because the politicians running this farce are incompetent.

Never, ever, trust a politician to run a major project like this; you only have to look at the Dome fiasco to see how bad things can get, when the politicians are entrusted with a project.

Blair's legacy will be:

1 The Iraq war

2 The Dome

3 The Olympic budgetary fiasco

Monday, February 26, 2007

Where's The Budget

In the run up to the 2012 London Olympics, the politicians who foisted this event upon the citizens of London would have you believe that everything was going "swimmingly".

Unfortunately there is one small fly in the ointment.

There is no believable/realistic budget!

The British Olympic Association (BOA) called upon ministers to come clean with respect to the budget, as concerns grow over the out of control costs.

Chairman of the BOA, Colin Moynihan, has quite rightly identified that the continuing uncertainty over the budget was damaging.

He spoke on BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek:

"It should be (announced) as soon as possible - this debate is not helping the whole Olympic project.

It should then be accountable to the public at large


"When they do come forward, we will see if they have included in that budget a huge regeneration project in the East End.

What I have asked for is that there should be absolute clarity about the costs that are going to be required to deliver the Games on the Olympic Park

As speculation intensifies as to the "true" budget, the current figure being bandied about is £9BN.

The more cynical amongst us would hazard a guess at £12BN in fact.

Politicians should never be trusted with large scale projects of this nature. Those of you who are still in denial over this should look to the Dome, as a fine example as to what goes wrong when politicians become involved in long term projects.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Safe Water For Beijing Games

Jiao Zhizhong, the head of the Beijing Water Authority, is confident its water quality will meet or surpass Olympic water quality standards in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Five new sewage treatment plants will be installed this year.

Jiao Zhizhong said that 80% homes have water-saving equipment installed, and that farms are irrigating more conservatively.

When the Olympics begin in August 2008, Beijing will receive an extra 79 million gallons of water from the nearby Hebei province.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Olympic Fiasco

The furor surrounding the farcical preparations for the 2012 London Olympics is growing.

A report from the National Audit Office (NAO), due to be issued on Friday, will demand as "a matter of urgency" that the Treasury sets a final budget for the Games.

It seems incredible that an event of this size, and prestige, does not actually have professional budget. However, we should remember that this is a project put together by politicians. Politicians should never be entrusted with large scale projects or financial budgets.

The report notes that, without a final budget for the Olympics, it will be almost impossible for the auditors to assess whether it is likely to be managed properly and whether it is good value for money.

I would suggest that the lack of budget will give the politicians exactly what they want, a large degree of wiggle room when things go wrong.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Taxpayers Lumbered With Cost Overruns

The out of control costs of the London 2012 Olympic Games will have to be met by the long suffering British taxpayers.

That at least is the view of the Commons select committee, looking into the cost overruns.

The committee has published a report that says:

"Just 18 months after winning the bid, it is clear that many of the cost figures are seriously outdated."

It went on to warn:

"If the financial pain of paying more for the Olympics is to be widely shared, it will require a contribution from the Treasury."

A revised budget is due to be announced this February.

It can be guaranteed that this will be one of many revisions upwards!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Costs of London Olympics 2012 Soar

The Culture Select Committee will launch a scathing attack on the government's incompetent handling of the London 2012 Olympics tomorrow, when they will accuse the Treasury of adding £2BN to the costs.

Costs have already risen as a result of security, construction inflation and a Treasury ruling that the Olympics Development Authority must pay VAT.

However, the committee will tell the Treasury to be more willing to pay the extra costs and not insist that all the extra funding has to be found from the national lottery.

The committee will also note that the Treasury's 60% contingency fund is excessive.

The latest estimates are that the Olympics will cost £8BN. Realists argue that the costs will be more likely to hit £12BN.

One major problem with the Olympics is that is is viewed very much as being one of Tony Blair's pet projects, as such Gordon Brown is vehemently opposed to funding the games.

One thing that is clear from this, is that politicians should not be allowed to run major projects such as the Olympic Games.

Monday, January 22, 2007

China's Olympic Traffic Jam

Chinese media claim that Beijing's horrendous traffic situation will get worse, as the Olympics 2008 draw closer.

The official Xinhua news agency said that Beijing has more than 2,000,000 registered vehicles, and over 4,000,000 people have a drivers licence. Officials predict the number of cars will exceed 3,000,000 by the time of the 2008 Olympic Games.

The increase in cars will worsen Beijing's already chronic levels of air pollution.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

More Drug Tests for 2008 Games

Approximately 4,500 drug tests will be conducted during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. This represents a rise of 25%, compared with the 2004 Games in Athens.

Yang Shu'an, the executive vice president of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) said:

"As part of its zero tolerance approach to fighting doping, the International Olympic Committee has decided to increase the number of tests by a large amount.

Final numbers are to be confirmed but are expected to be around 4,500, a 25 percent increase on Athens 2004

Beijing is holding an exhibition entitled "The Olympic Movement and Anti-doping Drive" The exhibition highlights a number of drug cases from previous years, and shows a video display of the anti drug test process.

Similar exhibitions will be held in 2007 and 2008 in various parts of China.

Monday, January 15, 2007

China Calls For International Olympic Co-operation

Chinahas called for a better exchange of intelligence information from other countries, in the run up to the 2008 Biejing Olympics.

Specifically the threat of terrorism lloms large.

The Olympic Security Command centre founded an International Liaison Department today, which is to improve co-operation with other nations.

Qiang Wei, chief of the Olympic Security Coordination Group and Beijing's deputy Communist Party chief, said:

"Safe Olympics are a common goal of the international society.

It cannot be achieved without sufficient international security cooperation

The Liaison Department will with the security organisations of other countries and with Interpol.

The Chinese police have established a website,, to inform the public in English, French and Chinese of their work and the security preparations for the Olympics.

Qiang added:

"The present-day world is still far from peaceful.

Olympic Games have been targeted by international terrorist groups. We, therefore, have to be highly alarmed and take pro-active measures in facing every possible threat

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Construction Continues During Olympics

Beijing has confirmed that its construction projects will continue during the 2008 Olympics, even though there are serious concerns about the air quality and pollution levels in the city.

The majority of the Olympic venues will be completed before the end of the 2007.

Deputy director of Project Management for the Beijing Olympics, Xu Bo, confirmed that there have been cost overruns on some Olympic building projects, with some contractors facing bankruptcy.


"It is true that certain construction companies are having problems with the fact that their actual spending on certain venues is beyond the expectation in their bid, and we are paying close attention to this issue. However, we are confident there will be no problems, because all the construction companies selected for the construction work of all the big projects for the Olympics, are first class enterprises in our country and we have done a strict inspection of their capability of implementing the contracts and they all passed our examination of qualification."

Executive deputy director of Project Management for 2008 Beijing Olympics, Sui Zhenjiang, said:

"The construction projects in Beijing will continue to be developed both before the Olympics and after it and they would not be stopped for the opening ceremony of the Olympics because every project has its own economic background and will be developed naturally.

However, before the Olympics, or during the process of the Olympics, we will conduct strict management to some projects in specific areas such as the places near the Olympic venues so as to make the air quality of Beijing better

They of course haven't said how they will do this though.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Auditors Keep an Eye on Olympics

Li Jinhua, China's head auditor, has stated that he will be exercising special scrutiny of construction projects in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Li will also place emphasis on auditing social security funds and other big projects.

Last year auditors uncovered US$909M in illegally used social security funds, including a scandal in Shanghai that led to the sacking of city Party Secretary Chen Liangyu.

A former Beijing deputy mayor, Liu Zhihua, who was in charge of US$40BN in Olympic construction funds, was fired last year for alleged corruption.

Increasing auditing oversight is an important measure to ensure a "clean" Olympics, Li said.