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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weren't they meant to be sold out? Day one of the Games sees banks of emptWeren't they meant to be sold out? Day one of the Gamesy seats at key venues

•Aquatics Centre and gymnastics arena just two of the venues with scores of empty seats
•Locog to investigate after 'officials and media' leave seats unfilled
•Lord Coe to 'name and shame' major sponsors who do not fill seats
•Aquatics Centre sessions are almost completely sold-out
•More tickets were released on Saturday night, but site crashed under the demand

By Chris Parsons

Olympic bosses have promised to investigate major sponsors after banks of empty seats were spotted at several sold-out Games venues today.

Several high-profile venues, including the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park and the gymnastics arena in North Greenwich, had rows of empty seats during morning sessions on the first day of the Games.

Locog said they would be investigating why the seats were unfilled, while Lord Coe has reportedly promised to name and shame sponsors who did not find takers for the venues.

Unfilled: Although cheaper seats higher up in the Aquatics Centre were filled to capacity by the general public, those lower down had rows of empty seats for this morning's swimming heats

Locog said the seats were meant to be filled by officials and media at the Aquatics Centre

Fans who paid huge sums to secure sought-after Olympics tickets were left fuming as seats - thought to have been bought in bulk by Games sponsors - were left unfilled.

At the Aquatics Centre, where every session is a sell-out, there were rows of empty seats in the lower tier, where more expensive tickets are situated.

London 2012 communications director Jackie Brock-Doyle said: 'The public have turned up, it looks like they were accredited seating [for officials or media].

'We are looking into who should have been sitting there and why they were not.'

Conservative MP Louise Mensch posted a picture of a near empty Aquatic Centre on her Twitter page today, provoking an angry response from some of her followers.

Someone tweeting under the name ‏@hattyrichmond wrote: '@LouiseMensch unbelievable. So many people wanted tickets and couldn't get them :-('.

Tory MP Louise Mensch today tweeted this picture of banks of empty seats at the Olympic Aquatic centre

Poor attendance: Over at the gymnastics arena in North Greenwich, Frenchman Pierre Yves Beny competed in the rings in front of more empty seats

Switzerland's Claudio Capelli completes a daring performance in front of more unfilled seats in North Greenwich

The ticketing situation will have caused a further headache for Lord Coe, who admitted before the Opening Ceremony prices were under review amid fears some venues could remain partly empty.

The London 2012 chairman said that although two million more Olympic tickets have been sold in recent months, the prices of more expensive seats could be cut.

Lord Coe said: 'We'll look at all those sorts of things but we've got any number of options.

'I just don’t think, from what’s happening at the moment, we’re going to have a great deal left.

'It was always my ambition to put people that look like they wanted to be in the stadium, to make them affordably priced... and really to meet our revenue targets (£600million) and I think we’ve done that in a really, really difficult climate.'

Great Britain's women's football clash with New Zealand was played out before empty stands at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Olympic organisers have struggled to sell tickets to women's football with games including North Korea's match against Colombia in Hampden Park, Glasgow played in front of thousands of empty seats

Meanwhile, there were reports of queues of up to 50 minutes for free water inside the rowing venue at Eton Dorney.

Spectator Anna Woodhams said: 'There was an excellent atmosphere. The people doing the catering weren't coping very well, but it's day one and it was ok. I'm sure they'll learn from it.'

LOCOG promised to reduce the queues. A spokeswoman said: 'There are five free water points within the venue and also 19 concessions selling water.

'Yes, there were queues and we're working hard to keep them to a minimum.'

By Saturday night it emerged that more tickets had gone on sale via the official Games website, suggesting they may be being witheld from sponsors and given to fans.

But the website was unable to cope with the new flood of demand and by 10.50pm had crashed under the volume of demand.

After more tickets were released for sale the Games website crashed under the demand


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Britain fires up the world: London gets the 2012 Games under way with the Greatest Show On Earth (rounded off by Macca, of course)


The Olympic Cauldron burns, lit by seven young athletes, chosen for their promise by British sporting legends

We all wondered who would light the torch - and in the end the organisers sprang a surprise as seven teenage athletes lit copper petals - brought in by each of the 204 countries - which converged in spectacular fashion to form the cauldron in the middle of the Olympic Stadium.

Outside the fireworks were equally impressive and could be seen for miles.

Sir Steve Redgrave, five-time gold medallist was the champion chosen to conclude the torch's 8,000-mile journey round Britain, but there was no doubting the night's biggest star, local boy David Beckham, who transported the flame by speedboat under Tower Bridge to the stadium.

It was the coolest moment of an amazing show and an estimated television audience of one billion tuned in worldwide to witness what had been billed as the Greatest Show on Earth

Scroll down for video

The Cauldron was formed by 204 petals, one for each nation competing

The petals converged into one, after they were lit by the seven teenagers, rising high above the stadium

The audience watched open-mouthed as the burning petals raised

The sporting prospects lit the petals, after they were passed the flame by Sir Steve Redgrave

Young athletes carried the Olympic flame around the stadium, a symbol of the Games' legacy

Former British rower and five times Olympic gold medalist, Steve Redgrave, passes the Torch to seven children, nominated to light the flame

The flame is passed to five times gold medal winner Sir Steve Redgrave by David Beckham, who carried the flame into Stratford on a speedboat

David Beckham was a surprise appearance, accompanying the Flame as it made its final journey


Callum Airlie, 17, was nominated by gold medal-winning sailor Shirley Robertson. He has been sailing since the age of four, and is a two-time Optimist UK national champion who aims to be entered into the 2013 ISAF (International Sailing Association & Federation) Open.
Jordan Duckitt, 18, was chairman of the London 2012 Young Ambassador Steering Group for two years, and was nominated by Duncan Goodhew.
Athletics talent Desiree Henry was put forward by Daley Thomson.
The 16-year-old was the youngest member of the Great Britain youth team to gain a world 200m title at the IAAF World Youth Championships in 2011, and competes this year at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
Runner Katie Kirk was nominated by Dame Mary Peters, who won gold in the women`s Pentathlon at the 1972 Munich games.
Katie, 18, was selected to run at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, in the 400m and 4x400m relay.
She was also part of the gold medal-winning team in the 4x400m relay at the European Junior championships in Tallinn, Estonia.
Sir Steve nominated young rower Cameron MacRitchie, 19.
The teenager finished fifth with his partner James Edwards in the men`s pair at the 2012 GB rowing team under 23 trials in April.
He was selected in the men`s eight to race at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Lithuania.
Aidan Reynolds, 18, was put forward by Lynn Davies, who captained Team GB at Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984.
Aidan gave up a promising basketball career to focus on the javelin, winning three medals at national level at the English Schools, UK School Games and English Championships.
Adelle Tracey was nominated by Dame Kelly Holmes.
The 19-year-old has collected county, regional and national junior and senior titles in 400m and 800m, and has been in the top five UK rankings for the last six years.
She won 800m silver for Great Britain in the European Youth Olympic Festival in Finland.

Fireworks light up the entire Olympic Park as the ceremony closes and the Games begins

London is illuminated by a stunning firework display as the Opening Ceremony reaches a crescendo

Fireworks lit up the night sky as the Stadium anxiously awaited the arrival of the Olympic Flame

Fireworks created a spectacular display above east London

Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney raises his arms as he sings at the end of the opening ceremony, as he brings the show to a close with a performance of Hey Jude

Sir Paul McCartney brought the Olympic Opening Ceremony to a rousing an emotional finale tonight with a performance of Beatles legend Hey Jude.

Earlier, Sir Chris Hoy looked delighted as he led the British athletes into the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 30th Games this evening.

The triple cycling gold medallist had the honour of carrying the Union Flag in the parade of the 204 nations competing at the London Olympics.

The crowd gave the British team a rapturous reception as the long wait for the Olympics to start came to an end.

Proud moment: Sir Chris Hoy acts as flag bearer for Great Britain as the team enters the Olympic Stadium

British diver Tom Daley, left, parades with fellow team members during the Opening Ceremony

A group of flagbearers including Muhammad Ali bring the Olympic Flag into the stadium

The VIP group included Doreen Lawrence, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general and Ethiopian athletics veteran Haile Gebrselassie

An extraordinary party of flagbearers brought the Olympic Flag into the stadium moments after the Queen declared the London Games open.

Muhammad Ali and Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, were among the nine who took part in the ceremony.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, Ethiopian athletics veteran Haile Gebrselassie and Shami Chakrabati, director of Liberty, were also flagbearers, along with Sally Becker, known as the Angel of Mostar who risked her life to deliver aid and evacuate children in the Balkan War, Marina Silva, who has fought against the destruction of the rainforest, Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, who has worked to try and end Liberia's civil war, and musician Daniel Barenboim.

Flying the flag: Usain Bolt of Jamaica and Maria Sharapova of Russia carry their nations' flags into the Stadium

Argentina's flag bearer Luciana Aymar leads her team into the Olympic Stadium

Earlier the Queen made a seemingly spectacular entrance to the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony this evening by dropping in from a helicopter by parachute accompanied by James Bond.

The surreal sequence followed a short film featuring James Bond actor Daniel Craig soaring across the streets of London before the pair apparently took the plunge.

Stuntmen dressed in a tuxedo and a peach-coloured dress really made the leap using Union Jack parachutes, and the Queen accompanied by Prince Philip then emerged and took their seat in the Royal Box.

Australian competitors pass on messages to loved ones back home during their nation's parade

Norwegian canoe-kayaker Mira Veras Larsen carries her nation's flag into the stadium

The Portuguese team arrive with their flag, led by judo star Telma Monteiro

Some details of the Bond stunt had emerged in advance of tonight's £27 million opening ceremony - the brainchild of Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.

But the Queen's role - played to perfection - still left the audience awe-struck and delighted both in the stadium and around the world.

'The Queen made herself more accessible then ever before,' Boyle said earlier today.

It is the first time the Queen has 'acted' in a film and she allowed two of her own corgis to star - Monty, 13, who used to belong to the Queen Mother and
Holly, nine. 'she was delighted to be asked to be involved in something so exceptional,' a Buckingham Palace spokesman said.

The segment was filmed in April. 'It's been a hell of a job keeping it secret for so long,' said a source.

Performers in the Olympics opening ceremony tonight hailed the experience as 'magical'.

Spectacular entrance: A stuntman portraying the Queen tumbles out of a helicopter high above the Olympic Stadium before unfurling a Union Jack

In a pre-filmed sketche, Daniel Craig, in character as James Bond, prepares to leap with the Queen

After appearing in the stadium, looking disheveled, a disgruntled-looking Queen adjusts herself and then takes her seat in the VIP area

The Queen is applauded by other dignitaries after making her arrival in the Olympic Stadium

Around 7,500 volunteers from around the world took part in the spectacular show in front of a packed Olympic Stadium in east London and a television audience of billions.

Sarah Lane, 28, danced in the climactic 'frankie and june say... Thanks Tim' section to a medley of British pop hits.

Moments after coming off stage, the scriptwriting student from Kennington in south London, said: 'It felt like the whole world came together for a good old British knees-up.

'It was just incredible - the perfect evening. Even the sky was a perfect colour.'
Asked what the atmosphere was like with her fellow performers, she said: 'Everyone was so happy.

'The audience, the cast - it was a massive party and no-one wanted to get off the stage.'

David Beckham appears to drive the torch up the River Thames in a Speedboat, as fireworks are set off on Tower Bridge

... but he had a little help from a crew, who were cleverly hidden from shot

British rockers The Arctic Monkeys performed in the centre of the stadium

A spectacular firework display marked the band's performance

Performers pay silent tribute to war dead and the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks

The silent tribute added a sombre touch to the ceremony#

Miss Lane started rehearsals for the modern dance section in mid-April, and has practised for more than 120 hours.

She said: 'The whole experience has been great. Even when we were rehearsing in a car park for five hours in the rain, everyone's spirit was really high.

'Danny Boyle was really approachable, which made such a difference. He made everyone feel part of the team and he thanked us all personally during rehearsals.

'I think Danny really captured the spirit of Britain, and everyone was part of the show.

'It was truly magical."

Scottish singer Emeli Sande of performs a moving rendition of 'Abide With Me'

Rowan Atkinson in his role as Mr Bean takes part in an Opening Ceremony sketch

Atkinson cheated his way to victory in a mock up of the famous Chariots of Fire scene

An army of young patients salute the NHS

A celebration of the Health Service – featuring more than 600 real NHS staff and patients – was one of the ceremony’s centrepieces.

Director Danny Boyle had said he wanted to celebrate the NHS as a proud British establishment as part of the show.

During the set, happy pyjama-clad patients – played by children – leaped up and down on 320 giant hospital beds, which doubled as trampolines, while nurses danced around them.

Clic here more detail


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Going fur gold: Guinea pigs take inspiration from London 2012 and take part in their own version of the Olympics for new calendar

-Furry rodents put into humorous sporting positions to celebrate Olympics
-No animals were hurt in the making of this 2013 calendar
-Designers used digital tricks to make the guinea pigs look like athletes

By Richard Hartley-parkinson

As London makes its final preparations ahead of Friday's Olympic opening ceremony, it appears that it's not just humans getting into the Games spirit.

This set of guinea pigs show that they also want a piece of the action as they take to the track, field and pools for a funny calendar to celebrate the event.

Maverick Arts Publishing created a calender called the 'Guinea Pig Games - Going for Gold' and shows what our furry friends would look like if they took part in sporting events.

This picture shows Paula Ratcliffe running over Tower Bridge and is taken from the calendar's month of June

Hopefully Team GB's Olympic sailing team will fare better than these guinea pigs who feature for July

Passing the baton: These furry creatures, featuring in December, appear worn out as they take part in the Olympic relay

Forget Eric the eel, we've got Derek the squeel(er) featuring in the swimming for the month of May

The side-splitting Guinea Pig Games 2013 calendar features the furry creatures competing in major sports events including rowing, track cycling and javelin.

They are also seen rowing, tackling the marathon and sprinting in a close-run relay race.

And the competitive critters aren't afraid to get their paws wet in synchronised diving, swimming and open-water sailing.

But animals lovers need not fear that the furry creatures were made to compete for real, the humorous calendar was created using clever image manipulation techniques.

Digital tricks allowed designers to make the guinea pigs appear to form sporty poses.

Matthew Pigsent? The calendar has been produced by Maverick Arts Club and includes this image of rowing guinea pigs in January

Bradley Piggins can be seen leading a group of track cyclists for the calendar's month of March

Maybe he's called Spike? This guinea pig has a go at javelin for the month of October

In fact, they were photographed in a comfortable studio for no more than five minutes at one time and with plenty of treats.

The guinea pigs were loaned by a animal rescue centre and a trained handler was on hand to make sure the photoshoot stars were looked after.

Steve Bicknell, owner of publishers Maverick Arts, said: 'Guinea Pig Games is one of our most successful calendars. This year we have created a stunning array of guinea pig images, showing our little furry friends competing in all the major events.

'We hired the guinea pigs from Palace Piggie Rescue in Crawley in exchange for a donation. The owner of the rescue site handled the guinea pigs.'

The £9.99 Guinea Pig Games 2013 calendar is available now.

A guinea performs a slam dunk during a game of basketball during the Guinea Pig Games for August

Rat-a-twirly: In April the calendar celebrates gymnastics (left) while September took a Tom Daley twist with the guinea pigs performing in the diving discipline

November seems to take a bit of a surrealist turn as this guinea pig takes to show jumping

I guess it makes a change from a running wheel: For February these rodents took part in the hurdles


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