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Mark Sutton, the stuntman who parachuted into the London 2012 opening ceremony as James Bond, has been killed in an accident.

Mark Sutton, 42, died during a wing-diving event near Martigny, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

Police said they did not yet know the cause but it is thought Mark Sutton died after crashing into a ridge of rock.

Mark Sutton doubled for Daniel Craig’s James Bond as he and another stuntman playing the Queen memorably entered the Olympic Stadium from a helicopter.


Wing-divers wear special suits that are designed to allow them to glide through the air at high speeds, before a parachute is opened for landing.

Mark Sutton, the stuntman who parachuted into the London 2012 opening ceremony as James Bond, has been killed in an accident

Mark Sutton, the stuntman who parachuted into the London 2012 opening ceremony as James Bond, has been killed in an accident

Mark Sutton, a former army officer, is thought to have dived from a helicopter flying at 3,300 m (10,826 ft) intending to land at a village just across the border in France.

But reports say the stuntman hit a ridge of rock, suffering fatal injuries. Rescuers believe Mark Sutton died on impact.

The stuntman had been invited to take part in the three-day wing-diving event with 19 other experienced wing-suit pilots.

The accident happened on the first day of the event, which involved the wing-divers being filmed jumping from helicopters.

Police said a formal identification of the body was under way and an investigation had been opened.

Gary Connery, the stuntman who played the Queen during the Olympic ceremony, tweeted what appeared to be a grieving message following his friend’s death.

He wrote: “All you jumpers/flyers out there, stay safe, make wise choices and know your limits and your locations. Live to tell your stories. One love.”

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South African athlete Oscar Pistorius will not compete again this year as he awaits trial for murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Paralympic gold medallist Oscar Pistorius, 26, is on bail after being charged with the murder of 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp but can compete before his court case is heard.

His agent, Peet van Zyl, said the six-time Paralympic champion was not mentally ready to return to the track.

“There was never any pressure from me or his coach (Ampie Louw) to return, it’s his decision,” said Peet van Zyl.

It means Oscar Pistorius will not compete in the IPC World Championships in Lyon in July.

Oscar Pistorius was arrested after shooting Reeva Steenkamp dead on February 14 and has not competed since.

Oscar Pistorius will not compete again this year as he awaits trial for murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius will not compete again this year as he awaits trial for murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

The double amputee, known as Blade Runner because of the carbon fibre prosthetic blades he races in, claimed he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for a burglar and has denied murder.

On February 22, Oscar Pistorius was granted bail and had certain conditions lifted which meant he could compete in events outside his homeland.

Coach Ampie Louw was quoted by Eye Witness News in South Africa as saying his athlete was “nowhere close” to being in a position to train.

Oscar Pistorius had not been invited to compete in July’s London Anniversary Games, with UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner saying he did not want the meeting to turn into a “media circus”.

However, Oscar Pistorius’s agent said plenty of meeting organisers had been in touch to invite athlete to compete in their events.

“[There] were a good number, enough to keep him busy through the year,” added Peet van Zyl.

At London 2012, Oscar  Pistorius became the first double amputee to run at an Olympics, taking part in both the 400 m and 4×400 m relay.

He then won gold medals in the T44 400 m and T42-46 4×100 m at the Paralympics, as well as silver in the T44 200 m.

Oscar Pistorius is next due in court on June 4 and a trial is expected to take place before the end of this year.

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A scoring system error led to the wrong medals being awarded in the women’s combined F35/36-class discus event at London 2012 Paralympics.

Ukraine’s Mariia Pomazan originally won gold and Wu Qing of China silver, but the pair has swapped places in the new revised medal table.

Bronze medallist Bao Jiongyu of China has been demoted to fifth place, with Australia’s Katherine Proudfoot up to third from fifth.

The new medal ceremony is on Saturday.

In total, seven of the top 10 and all of the top five positions were changed.

Ukraine's Mariia Pomazan originally won gold and Wu Qing of China silver, but the pair has swapped places in the new revised medal table

Ukraine's Mariia Pomazan originally won gold and Wu Qing of China silver, but the pair has swapped places in the new revised medal table

Paralympic organisers said in a statement: “All combined class field events use a points scoring system where final positions are determined by points rather than distance.

“In today’s women’s combined class discus event [F35/36], incorrect medals were awarded following the use of inaccurate results data. We sincerely apologise to the athletes affected.

“The inaccurate data also affected the men’s shot put F42/44, although the final medal placing was not impacted.

“A new medal ceremony will be held during tomorrow [Saturday] morning’s athletics session.”

 

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Queen Elizabeth II has declared the London 2012 Paralympics officially open, during a spectacular opening ceremony watched by some 80,000 spectators.

Britain’s first Paralympic Games gold medallist, Margaret Maughan, 84, had the honor of lighting the cauldron.

Paralympics chief Lord Sebastian Coe told the crowd: “Prepare to be inspired, prepare to be dazzled, prepare to be moved.”

The Queen said: “The Games are returning to the country where they first began, more than 60 years ago.”

Earlier, athletes paraded around the Olympic Stadium, with Paralympics GB entering last to huge cheers.

The opening ceremony, co-directed by Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings, signalled the start of 11 days of competition by 4,200 athletes from 164 countries, including more than 300 athletes from the home nation.

Queen Elizabeth II has declared the London 2012 Paralympics officially open, during a spectacular opening ceremony watched by some 80,000 spectators

Queen Elizabeth II has declared the London 2012 Paralympics officially open, during a spectacular opening ceremony watched by some 80,000 spectators

Wheelchair basketball, shooting, swimming and track cycling are among the events set to feature on the opening day.

Lord Coe told the crowd at the east London stadium: “It is my great honor to say welcome home to the Paralympic Games.”

Eight members of the British under-22 wheelchair basketball team were given the honor of carrying the Paralympic flag into the stadium. It was raised by members of the armed forces, before the Queen declared the Games open.

British swimmer Liz Johnson, a medallist from Beijing 2008, wheelchair rugby judge Richard Allcroft and David Hunter, who is coaching the Paralympics GB equestrian team, each stepped forward to take the official oaths on behalf of competitors and officials.

At the close of the ceremony, 24-year-old Royal Marine Commando Joe Townsend – an aspiring Olympic triathlete, who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan – descended on a zip wire into the stadium from the top of the nearby Orbit tower.

He handed the flame to David Clarke, a member of the Parlympics GB five-a-side football team, who passed the torch to Margaret Maughan, who won gold in archery at the 1960 Rome Paralympics.

She lit a tiny flame on the ground, igniting more than 200 copper petals. Long stems then rose towards each other to form a cauldron, signifying unity.

Like the impressive Olympic cauldron, it was made by designer Thomas Heatherwick, and 166 of the petals bore the names of competing nations at the London 2012 Paralympics.

Bradley Hemmings said it was “extremely spectacular and like nothing you have seen in previous ceremonies”.

The Paralympics GB athletes earlier entered the stadium to David Bowie’s Heroes, led by Peter Norfolk, the two-time Paralympic wheelchair tennis champion, who carried the union jack. He later described it as a “wow moment”.

In one heart-stopping moment during the show, six Paralympians and former competitors – including Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson – were flown into the stadium in golden wheelchairs.

Disabled ex-serviceman David Rawlins flew a twin-engined Tecnam P2006 light aircraft over the stadium to kick off the proceedings.

A sphere ignited the “big bang” – something which Prof. Stephen Hawking, a world-renowned physicist who has motor neurone disease, has written about extensively – to start the show and fireworks lit up the stadium.

Prof. Stephen Hawking and actor Sir Ian McKellen played prominent roles in the ceremony, which also featured a host of deaf and disabled artists, local children and performers newly-trained in circus skills.

Some 3,000 volunteers took part in the event, which organizers entitled Enlightenment and said was “profoundly about science and humanity”.

Throughout the ceremony, Prof. Stephen Hawking acted as a guide to Miranda – a character from William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, who was central to the show – while actor Sir Ian played Prospero, another character from the play.

Inspired by uncertain British weather, umbrellas were also a big theme in the ceremony, which was described as “both spectacular and deeply human” by organizers.

The Queen was welcomed by Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, before the union jack was carried in by representatives of the armed forces.

It is the first time the monarch has officiated at the openings of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Teams from all 164 countries paraded into the stadium to music mixed and played by three London-based DJs.

The Paralympic torch began its journey in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, the spiritual home of the Paralympic Games, on Tuesday night.

It was carried by 580 torchbearers in total, and after being carried past some of London’s most famous landmarks, was used to light a scaled-down version of the Olympic cauldron.

The torch had earlier been delayed but Games organizers LOCOG confirmed the flame arrived at the stadium in time to light the cauldron.

More than 2.4 million tickets for events have already been sold, including half a million to overseas visitors.

In a statement released before she opened the Games, the Queen said: “It is with tremendous pride that the people of London and the United Kingdom welcome the world to the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

“We look forward to celebrating the uplifting spirit which distinguishes the Paralympic Games from other events, drawing on Britain’s unique sporting heritage.”

Paralympics in numbers

• 4,280 athletes from 166 countries are to compete throughout the 11 days of sport

• Over 2.4 million tickets have been sold so far – including half a million to visitors from abroad

• There are 503 gold medals to be won in 21 sports

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Paralympic torch has reached outer London as part of a 24-hour relay to herald the start of the 2012 Games.

Four national flames, kindled last week, were united in a cauldron at a ceremony in Stoke Mandeville – the spiritual home of the Paralympics.

A flame lit from that cauldron is being carried 92 miles from Buckinghamshire to London’s Olympic Stadium.

The Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are among those attending Wednesday’s opening ceremony.

Crowds gathered in the market square in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, to watch the start of the relay on Tuesday night and thousands more turned out overnight to cheer on the torchbearers along the route.

Running about 90 minutes late, the flame, which is being carried by some 580 torchbearers in total, is next due to arrive at Britain’s first traditional Hindu temple, the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple in Brent.

It will then visit Lord’s Cricket Ground, London Zoo and the Abbey Road crossing made famous by the Beatles among other famous landmarks in the capital.

 

Paralympic torch has reached outer London as part of a 24-hour relay to herald the start of the 2012 Games

Paralympic torch has reached outer London as part of a 24-hour relay to herald the start of the 2012 Games

 

In Trafalgar Square later, former boxer Michael Watson, wheelchair racer Dame Tanni Grey Thompson and Paralympic swimmer Chris Holmes will carry the flame.

About 3,000 invited guests, including Paralympians, representatives from disability groups and local residents, attended Tuesday evening’s ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

Some 150 local residents took part in a lantern procession and formed a guard of honor for eight torchbearers who carried flames representing England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The children who were invited to take part in the procession, together with their parents, had gathered at Stoke Mandeville last week to make the lanterns out of canes, tissue paper and sticky tape.

One of those involved was 12-year-old William Lansdown from Hazlemere in Buckinghamshire, who has Down’s Syndrome and attends a sports group for disabled children.

“The lanterns looked brilliant,” said William Lansdown’s mother, Lynn.

“It was a great atmosphere, with the emphasis on families taking part and not just disabled people.

“The fact that so many children were involved made it special, given the theme of inspiring a generation to do more sport.”

Earlier, performers entertained the crowds ahead of speeches by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Sir Philip Craven, Lord Coe, chairman of Games organizers LOCOG, and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Eva Loeffler, the daughter of the founder of the Paralympic Games, Dr. Ludwig Guttman, paid tribute to the role the Stoke Mandeville Games – and her father – had in defining the modern Paralympic movement.

Lord Coe addressed the crowd, saying he was “excited” to be at the home of the Games on the eve of their opening.

Speaking of Dr. Ludwig Guttman, he said: “It is simply not possible to stand here without feeling a mountainous debt of gratitude for one of the world’s great visionaries.”

Carrying the English flame was Katie Piper and Paralympian Tony Griffin.

Katie Piper, who suffered major injuries when her ex-boyfriend attacked her with sulphuric acid, was nominated for setting up the Katie Piper Foundation and raising awareness of burns survivors.

During a 10-year career Tony Griffin won 38 medals and works as Bolton’s Sports Ambassador promoting disabled sport.

The Scottish flame was carried by boxer Jon Jo Look, who has a prosthetic leg and coaches youngsters in the sport, and Noel McShane, who set up the National Wheelchair Tennis Association of Great Britain and the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships.

Darren Ferguson, a special constable who talked down a distressed man from a bridge, and Joseph Morris, who saved a girl from drowning in a river, carried the Northern Ireland flame.

Julie Gilbert and Marsha Wiseman carried the Welsh flame.

Shortly after 20:00 BST, the first team of torchbearers – Paralympians chosen by the IPC – left the stadium, signalling the start of the 24-hour torch relay.

Just before midnight the torch was carried through the village of Weston Turville, in Buckinghamshire, where residents lit candles to line the route.

A London 2012 spokeswoman said: “It is great. Each place has got a different way of doing things.

“In Weston Turville the candles along the street were superb, in Tring it was the sheer number of people, and in Berkhamsted there was music while the torch went along the High Street, and when it left the church bells rang out.”

Making up the first team of torchbearers were:

• IPC president Sir Philip Craven took part in five Paralympic Games mainly in wheelchair basketball, and swimming

• Baroness Susan Masham represented GB at the first two Paralympic Games winning medals in swimming and table tennis

• Caz Walton has been involved in every Paralympic Games since 1964 as both an athlete and team manager

• Sally Haynes took part in the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960 and went on to compete at a further three Games winning medals in the Epee discipline of wheelchair fencing and table tennis

• Jane Blackburn took part in five Paralympic Games between 1972 and 1992 competing in archery, athletics, lawn bowls, swimming and table tennis. and winning 11 Paralympic medals including five golds

When it arrives at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, it will be used to light the cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Games.

The event, called Enlightenment and created by Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey, will showcase the skills of disabled artists with a cast of 3,000 adult volunteers including injured soldiers and past Paralympic athletes.

The four national flames were kindled at the summit of the highest peaks in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales last week.

They were used to light ceremonial cauldrons in London’s Trafalgar Square on Friday, outside Stormont in Northern Ireland on Saturday, at the Mound in Edinburgh on Sunday and outside City Hall in Cardiff on Monday.

Paralympic torch relay

• Average speed – 3.5mph

• 18 hours of torchbearing

• 15 vehicles in convoy

• Travels through 15 London boroughs

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A ceremonial cauldron has been lit in London’s Trafalgar Square to launch the Paralympic torch relay.

Claire Lomas, who was paralyzed in a horse riding accident, lit the cauldron from the English national flame kindled on Scafell Pike.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, London Mayor Boris Johnson and London 2012 chairman Lord Sebastian Coe attended the ceremony.

The relay travels from Stoke Mandeville to London overnight on Tuesday for the Games opening ceremony on Wednesday.

David Cameron marked the occasion by wishing Paralympic Games competitors good luck.

“After a fortnight of Olympics withdrawal symptoms, it’s time to dust off the GB flags and get ready for two more weeks of spectacular sport,” he said.

“Over these next two weeks, we’re going to have more of those moments that will bring us together and make us proud.

“We are going to show the whole world that when it comes to putting on a show, there is no country like Britain and no city like London.”

A ceremonial cauldron has been lit in London's Trafalgar Square to launch the Paralympic torch relay

A ceremonial cauldron has been lit in London's Trafalgar Square to launch the Paralympic torch relay

Claire Lomas, who completed this year’s London Marathon in 16 days wearing a “bionic suit”, was left paralyzed from the chest down in a riding accident.

Using a Paralympic torch she lit the cauldron which will stand on the north terrace of the square outside the National Gallery.

She said: “It’s an amazing opportunity and I feel very proud and privileged to be asked.

“I wish everyone competing in the Paralympics loads of luck.”

During the event, 26 flame ambassadors from across England collected a flame in a lantern to take back to their local celebrations.

Lord Sebastian Coe said: “The national flame in England will help to light the way to the Paralympic Games.

“It will also give people the chance to celebrate the amazing achievements of the inspirational Torchbearers who all embody the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality.”

Later, he insisted that organizers strive to fill any untaken accredited seats during the Paralympic Games but denied there had been empty seats at Olympic venues.

“We didn’t have any empty seats, every venue was absolutely full to the gunwhales.

“What you’re talking about is the unscientific nature of accredited seats which happens at every Games.

“We will do what we can during the Paralympic Games to make sure that, for most of the time, those accredited seats are used.”

Mayor Boris Johnson said: “1948 was an amazing year for this country. The NHS, the first Land Rover, the first Routemaster bus was planned, Shakin’ Stevens was born somewhere in Wales and the Paralympic movement, which is something that’s grown massively now.

“The success of the Paralympics tells us something about Britain and the way the country has changed.

“The Olympics showed what we can do and I think the Paralympics will show what kind of people we are, what’s going on in our hearts.”

Before the cauldron lighting the flame visited the Royal Opera House. Later in the day it will be carried in front of performers from the Notting Hill Carnival, visit the Houses of Parliament and be taken on the Docklands Light Railway.

A giant Paralympic Agitos logo, the symbol of the Paralympic Games, has been suspended from Tower Bridge to herald the coming event.

Four national flames were kindled at the summit of the highest peaks in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales on Wednesday.

Following on from the event in London, the national flames will be used to light cauldrons outside Stormont in Northern Ireland on Saturday, at The Mound in Edinburgh on Sunday and outside City Hall in Cardiff on Monday.

Next Tuesday the four flames will be brought together in Stoke Mandeville where they will create the Paralympic flame, signalling the start of the relay.

Starting out from Stoke Mandeville Stadium at 20:00 BST, the Paralympic flame will be carried 92 miles by 580 torchbearers, working in teams of five, through Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and London to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

There it will be used to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Games on the evening of 29 August.

 

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George Michael says he has no regrets about performing his new single at the London 2012 closing ceremony.

George Michael’s performance of White Light led some to accuse him of using Sunday night’s event to promote his new material.

“I hope you are not bothered by the press reports of my scandalous <<promotion>>!!!” George Michael told his fans via Twitter on Tuesday.

The performance at the Olympic Stadium was the 49-year-old’s first since his life-threatening battle with pneumonia.

George Michael spent a month in hospital in Vienna after contracting the illness last year.

George Michael says he has no regrets about performing his new single at the London 2012 closing ceremony

George Michael says he has no regrets about performing his new single at the London 2012 closing ceremony

Sunday’s extravaganza also included musical performances from Annie Lennox, Take That, the Spice Girls and The Who. Each sang one or more of their best-known songs.

George Michael, wearing sunglasses and dressed in black leather, came on stage in front of 80,000 people to sing his 1990 hit Freedom.

He followed it with White Light, a slower number inspired by his near-death experience.

Some viewers felt this was inappropriate and expressed their objections via Twitter.

“Not the time for new single promo,” said Steve Anderson, a musical director for Kylie Minogue and Westlife.

“I’m genuinely surprised he was allowed to do this.”

In his own Twitter postings, George Michael said: “It was my one chance on tv to thank you all for your loyalty and prayers, and I took it.”

“And I don’t regret it,” he added.

Several artists have enjoyed a sales boost since the show, with Elbow’s One Day Like This and Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill both entering the iTunes Top 10.

George Michael’s White Light reached number two on Sunday and was ranked in 22nd place in the iTunes countdown on Tuesday afternoon.

The closing ceremony, described by organizers as “A Symphony of British Music”, was watched at its peak by 26.3 million viewers in the UK.

 

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The official Olympic flag has arrived in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of 2016 Games.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes waved the flag after stepping off the plane with other officials and Brazilian athletes who competed in London.

The flag was handed to Eduardo Paes on Sunday in London before the flame at the Olympic Stadium was extinguished.

The move marks the official start of Rio’s preparations for the 2016 Games.

Arriving on Monday with the flag, Eduardo Paes was accompanied by Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the 2016 Games Organising Committee, Rio Governor Sergio Cabral, and the country’s team of athletes.

The official Olympic flag has arrived in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of 2016 Games

The official Olympic flag has arrived in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of 2016 Games

Brazil finished 22nd in London 2012, winning 17 medals, two more than its previous best in Beijing.

Rio de Janeiro will be the first South American city to host the Olympics. The city has yet to construct the Olympic Park and other venues, and many have expressed concern about how much work there is to do ahead of the event.

During a visit in June, members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that timelines were “already very tight” and that “the amount of work to be completed is considerable”.

Worries about Olympic readiness are not new, but that not since Athens have there been so many questions about a host’s ability to stage the Olympics.

The transport system in Rio already struggles to serve its six million people.

But Eduardo Paes has promised to transform the city’s infrastructure, and the government says all of the Olympic venues will be finished a year before the games start.

They will be helped by the fact that they have something of a dress rehearsal, when the World Cup arrives in Brazil in 2014.

As the delegation touched down, a group of demonstrators were gathered outside the airport in Rio to protest against planned evictions connected to the Olympics planning, according to the Associated Press.

The London Olympics were brought to a close on Sunday night with a spectacular musical ceremony, featuring some of the biggest names of British pop, including the Spice Girls, George Michael and Elbow.

In a separate development on Monday, a female athlete from Belarus was stripped of her gold medal in the London Olympics after failing two drugs tests.

The shot putter, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, was the first athlete to lose a medal in the 2012 Games due to doping.

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Nadzeya Ostapchuk, women’s shot put Olympic gold medalist, has been stripped of her title after failing a doping test, the International Olympic Committee has announced.

Belarusian Nadzeya Ostapchuk, 31, threw 21.36 m with her third attempt to win in the Olympic Stadium last week.

But Nadzeya Ostapchuk has now been disqualified after officials said metenolone was found in a urine sample she provided.

New Zealand’s Valerie Adams, who was second, has now been awarded gold.

Nadzeya Ostapchuk, women's shot put Olympic gold medalist, has been stripped of her title after failing a doping test

Nadzeya Ostapchuk, women's shot put Olympic gold medalist, has been stripped of her title after failing a doping test

An IOC statement said: “The athlete was first requested to provide a urine sample for a doping control on 5 August.

“She competed the next day in the women’s shot put event, where she placed first, and was asked to provide a sample straight after her competition.

“Both samples indicated the presence of metenolone, which is classified as anabolic agent under the 2012 prohibited list.”

Nadzeya Ostapchuk won gold at the 2010 European Championships, but was second to Adams at the 2011 World Championships.

London 2012 saw the biggest anti-doping operation in the history of the Olympic Games.

Before the start of the Olympics, those competing were warned that 150 scientists were set to take 6,000 samples between now and the end of the Paralympic Games.

Every competitor who won a medal at the Olympics was tested.

British discus thrower Brett Morse apologized to his Twitter followers after accusing Nadzeya Ostapchuk of doping last week.

Brett Morse made the claim after he failed to qualify for the Olympics discus final and also tweeted: “I’ve had a bad day but it could be worse, I could look like Ostaptchuk [sic].”

 

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Brazilian carnival dancers invaded the stage in the final section of the closing ceremony last night to symbolize the handover from London 2012 to Rio 2016.

It started with some samba street dance and ended with football legend Pele – London bid farewell to the Olympic Games with an unmistakable Brazilian twist.

There were fears the stunning display would have to be toned down over concerns about the dancers’ revealing outfits.

Officials were worried that the performers in the Rio carnival-themed section were too skimpily dressed.

At one stage they asked the dancers to ‘tone down’ their outfits for fear they might offend the family audience.

Brazilian carnival dancers invaded the stage in the final section of the closing ceremony last night to symbolize the handover from London 2012 to Rio 2016

Brazilian carnival dancers invaded the stage in the final section of the closing ceremony last night to symbolize the handover from London 2012 to Rio 2016

The Brazilian choreographers are thought to have protested, insisting the dancers’ outfits were an accurate portrayal of traditional carnival clothes.

The colorful segment which closed the ceremony – featuring supermodel Allesandra Ambrosio and popstar Marisa Monte – was based on the Brazilian concept of the “Carioca” embrace.

“Carioca” is the name given to a person from Rio, and the Carioca embrace- a traditional greeting in the city- was used to symbolize the warm welcome with which Rio wants to greet the rest of the world in 2016.

The segment began with a street cleaner called Renato Sorriso – who became an internet hit after video of him performing an impromptu routine during a carnival in Brazil in 2009 was recorded and uploaded to youtube – practicing his samba steps. A security guard attempted to remove him, but was disarmed by a Carioca embrace of friendship.

Moments later a colorful parade of dancers- representing the world famous annual Carnival held in the city – exploded onto the stage.

And in a spectacular entrance, Brazilian pop singer Marisa Monte glided into the arena in a giant blue gown.

Marisa Monte – who has sold 10 million albums worldwide and is considered one of the great figures of modern Brazilian music- was intended to represent the Brazilian sea goddess Yamanja, who is celebrated every year in a huge New Years’ Eve party on the beach of Copacabana.

She performed a classical music piece with indigenous South American rhythms as well as the pop song “Maracatu Atomico” by Brazilian rapper BNegao.

This was followed by the appearance of actor-singer Seu Jorge among an acrobatic performance by traditional Brazilian Capoeira fighters.

Jorge- a Brazilian pop samba artist – was wearing a suit designed to represent the “malandros” – famous dandy characters of 1940s Lapa, a neighborhood in Rio de Janero.

The procession of the fighters, interspersed with dancing couples, was intended to symbolize the movement of a lively Copacabana pavement.

Among the couples was 31-year-old Brazilian supermodel Allesandra Ambrosio, most famous for modelling Victoria’s Secret lingerie.

Her appearance will surprise few in Brazil as she had been tweeting about it all day and even posted pictures of herself arriving in the Olympic park by bus.

The section ended as the entire cast united in a Carioca embrace in front of a vista of Rio’s unique skyline, while the Rio 2016 logo appeared on the stage.

Rio 2016 will be the first ever Olympic games hosted by a South American country.

Organizers said the handover was intended to celebrate Rio’s “contagious mix of cultures.”

 

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South African athlete Oscar Pistorius made history at London Games 2012 by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics.

Oscar, Pistorius, a four-time Paralympic champion, 25, whose legs were amputated below the knee as a baby, finished second in his 400 m heat in a time of 45.44 seconds to reach Sunday’s semi-final.

“I didn’t know if I should cry or be happy. It was such a mix of emotions,” Oscar Pistorius said.

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius made history at London Games 2012 by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics

South African athlete Oscar Pistorius made history at London Games 2012 by becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics

Defending champion LaShawn Merritt of the United States pulled up injured.

The 26-year-old, who failed a drugs test in 2009, appeared to be still suffering with an Achilles tendon problem that affected him earlier in the season.

He stopped running after 250m and crossed the line at walking pace.

“It’s Olympic year – I tried to go for it, and it just didn’t happen,” he said.

Oscar Pistorius was impressive in his heat, coasting over the line behind Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, who won in 45.04.

“Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me. Thank you so much to my family – I saw my gran in the crowd. It was the most amazing experience.

“This crowd is amazing. I’ve run so many times in the UK and it feels like a second home to me.

“I’ve got to thank my team, they trust me, I trust them. We’ve been together for nine years.”

Oscar Pistorius ran in the individual 400 m at the 2011 World Championships but did not progress beyond the semi-finals.

He also ran in the relay but, after running in the heats, he was omitted from the team which raced in the final as South Africa went on to claim silver.

Oscar Pistorius is also due to run in the 4×400 m relay at London 2012.

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Madhura Nagendra, the woman who appeared in India’s Olympic contingent in the opening ceremony, has apologized for an “error of judgement”.

Madhura Nagendra told the NDTV news channel she was a cast member at the event, and had not gatecrashed it.

Indian team officials were angered by the woman’s presence and had sought an apology.

The head of the London 2012 organizing committee, Lord Sebastian Coe, said she was a cast member who got “slightly over-excited” and joined the ceremony.

Madhura Nagendra became known as “the woman in red” because of the color of the top she was wearing.

She said she had entered the cast after “rounds of audition” and did not walk into the stadium “off the streets”.

Madhura Nagendra, the woman who appeared in India's Olympic contingent in the opening ceremony, has apologized for an "error of judgement

Madhura Nagendra, the woman who appeared in India's Olympic contingent in the opening ceremony, has apologized for an "error of judgement

“[It was an] error of judgement [that] I landed up walking with the athletes. I think I have hurt the sentiments of my people. I apologize,” Madhura Nagendra said.

“There was chaos. Thousands of people were walking. I was blinded and as a result there was an error of judgement.”

Madhura Nagendra said she was “hurt” by the criticism of her act on social media outlets.

“I am a proud woman of India with a lot of enthusiasm. I was taken aback by the criticism. I hope this incident will be forgiven and I want to move forward.”

India is fielding 81 athletes at the London Games.

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The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has charged eight female Olympic badminton players with “not using one’s best efforts to win a match”.

Four pairs of players – two from South Korea, one from China and one from Indonesia – could be disciplined.

Spectators booed the two badminton matches played at Wembley Arena on Tuesday, in which the four accused pairs of players were appearing.

China’s Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli and South Koreans Jung Kyung-Eun and Kim Ha-Na are among those facing charges.

The longest rally in their game lasted four shots, with match referee Thorsten Berg coming on to court at one point to warn the players. The players also appeared to deliberately serve into the net and hit the shuttlecock out of the court.

Both pairs were already through to the quarter-finals. Reports have suggested they both wanted to lose to secure an easier draw.

The Badminton World Federation has charged eight female Olympic badminton players with not using one's best efforts to win a match

The Badminton World Federation has charged eight female Olympic badminton players with not using one's best efforts to win a match

The unseeded South Koreans eventually won their match, meaning they would next play China’s Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei.

The South Korean pair did not comment, but Yu Yang said she and Wang Xiaoli were saving energy for the knockout stages.

Meanwhile, China’s Olympic sports delegation launched an investigation into the alleged “deliberate losing” by its badminton players, saying it opposed any behavior violating “sporting spirit and morality”, as reported by state media.

A later match between South Korean third seeds Ha Jung-Eun and Kim Min-Jung and Indonesian pair Meiliana Juahari and Greysia Polii is also under scrutiny by the Badminton World Federation.

Both pairs of those teams had also already qualified for the knockout stages, with the winner of Group C to play Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli and the Korean pairs to face each other if Kim Ha-Na and Kim Min-Jung lost.

At one point the referee, Thorsten Berg, again intervened and brandished a black card to disqualify the players. However, he then rescinded his decision following protests from the two teams.

Both teams appeared keen to lose and therefore not play the Chinese in the next round, but the Koreans eventually won by two sets to one.

A statement from the BWF confirmed that all four pairs would face charges of “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport”.

 

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Chinese Olympic swimmer Ye Shiwen has denied taking performance-enhancing drugs, after smashing a world record at the London Olympics.

Ye Shiwen, 16, won gold in the 400 m individual medley after breaking her personal best by at least five seconds.

She swam the last 50 m quicker than the men’s champion, prompting leading US coach John Leonard to describe her performance as “disturbing”.

There is no evidence against her and all medal winners are drug-tested.

She is due to race in the final of the 200m individual medley later on Tuesday.

Coach John Leonard, executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, said her performance reminded him of the East German women swimmers in the 1980s who were doping on a systematic basis.

“History in our sport will tell you that every time we see something, and I will put quotation marks around this, unbelievable, history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved,” John Leonard told the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

Chinese Olympic swimmer Ye Shiwen has denied taking performance-enhancing drugs, after smashing a world record at the London Olympics

Chinese Olympic swimmer Ye Shiwen has denied taking performance-enhancing drugs, after smashing a world record at the London Olympics

China’s swimming team was repeatedly hit by doping scandals in the 1990s.

Seven swimmers tested positive for drugs in the 1994 Asian Games, and four years later four Chinese swimmers failed pre-tournament drug tests before swimming world championships in Australia.

But Ye Shiwen denied the allegations, telling reporters: “My results come from hard work and training and I would never use any banned drugs. The Chinese people have clean hands.”

The accusations have sparked an angry reaction from Chinese internet users, who have accused other nations of jealousy.

Chinese swimming team leader Xu Qi told China’s state-run Xinhua news agency that Ye Shiwen’s result had been expected.

“To compare Ye’s result with Lochte’s is meaningless,” he said.

“Ye was behind after 300m and she needed to try her best to win the race, but Lochte had already established the lead before the freestyle and didn’t need to do his upmost.”

Arne Ljungqvist, medical commission chairman for the International Olympic Committee, called the speculation sad.

“To raise suspicion immediately when you see an extraordinary performance – to me it is against the fascination of sport,” he said.

All medal winners at the Olympics are drug tested. In addition, any athlete whose performance is far better than anything they have achieved before can be targeted for extra tests.

China’s anti-doping chief has said that Chinese athletes have undergone nearly 100 drugs tests since arriving in London, and that not a single Chinese athlete had tested positive.

Who is Ye Shiwen?

• Born in 1996 in eastern city of Hangzhou

• Started swimming in 2003, reportedly after her teacher noticed she had large hands

• Joined the national team in 2008

• Won the 200m and 400m individual medley at the 2010 Asian Games

 

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Organizers LOCOG announce that more Olympic tickets will go back on sale after the row over empty seats.

It said an initial 3,000 tickets – including 600 gymnastics tickets – were “put back into the pot” and sold on the London 2012 website on Sunday night.

More tickets returned by sports federations would be released the night before events, LOCOG added.

Transport chiefs say London’s morning rush hour went well on the first full working day of the Games.

More Olympic tickets will go back on sale after the row over empty seats

More Olympic tickets will go back on sale after the row over empty seats

Prime Minister David Cameron, meanwhile, said the empty seats were “disappointing” but not “a unique episode” with other previous Games facing similar problems.

At some venues, seats in the accredited “Olympic family” areas – reserved for groups including officials, sports federations, athletes, journalists and sponsors – have remained empty.

LOCOG communications director Jackie Brock-Doyle said organizers were doing everything they could to fix the problem.

“We’re doing this session by session, talking to the accredited groups – including obviously broadcast media and everybody else – and asking whether we can release, for the different sessions, tickets back into the public pot,” she said.

And she said accredited seating for London 2012 was down 15% on previous Games.

Lord Sebastian Coe – who has said Olympics venues are “stuffed” with sports fans – had earlier said that some empty seats would be filled by servicemen and women, as well as local students and teachers.

And shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said unused tickets should also be given to police officers and their families.

 

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Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi, a Malaysian mother-to-be, stayed positive despite failing to make it to the Olympic 10 m air rifle shooting final.

Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi, 29, who is 33 weeks pregnant, finished in 34th position out of 56 competitors.

She is due to give birth on 13 September, but she said she felt four kicks during the competition but it did not put her off.

“When she kicks I breathe in and out and then continue,” Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi said.

When asked what she said to her daughter, who will be named Dayana Widyan, she said: “Behave yourself, be calm, don’t move so much. She always listened to me. Lucky.”

Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi, a Malaysian mother-to-be, stayed positive despite failing to make it to the Olympic 10 m air rifle shooting final

Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi, a Malaysian mother-to-be, stayed positive despite failing to make it to the Olympic 10 m air rifle shooting final

Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi, who won a shooting gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and needed special permission to fly to London for the Games because she is so heavily pregnant, will be returning to Malaysia on 31 July.

However, she described competing at the Royal Artillery Barracks as a dream come true and said she would carry on shooting after the birth.

“I will still carry on because this is already my life,” she said.

“What I’ve heard is that a mother after delivery has fresh blood so they can perform better, I believe. That’s the luck of being a woman.”

And she said perhaps her daughter could follow her into a sporting career.

“My blood is like hers. Maybe she’s better than me,” she said.

When Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi was asked about what would have happened if she had gone into labour during the competition, she said: “I just prayed that I could get to a labour room. I would accept it with an open heart. I am not a normal mummy doing everything slowly.”

 

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Olympic organizers are investigating why many seats were empty during events at venues including the Aquatics Centre in east London.

Areas high in the stands at the sold-out event were full but several hundred more expensive seats lower down were not filled.

LOCOG said some accredited seats – for press and media – were empty.

Empty seats have also been seen at Wimbledon and the volleyball at Earl’s Court on Saturday afternoon.

A LOCOG spokesman said earlier: “We are aware that some venues have empty seats this morning.

“We believe the empty seats are in accredited seating areas and we are in the process of finding out who should have been in the seats and why they weren’t there.”

Olympic organizers are investigating why many seats were empty during events at venues including the Aquatics Centre in east London

Olympic organizers are investigating why many seats were empty during events at venues including the Aquatics Centre in east London

London 2012 chairman Lord Sebastian Coe has previously threatened to name and shame companies which do not use their tickets.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Aquatic Centre during the morning session while 14-time Olympic gold medallist swimmer Michael Phelps scraped through to Saturday night’s final of the 400 m individual medley.

The number of empty seats was the only negative aspect of the session and it did not harm the atmosphere.

But it meant Olympic organizers still had some work to do.

Some blocks of empty seats have been observed at Wimbledon’s centre court.

One spectator, Rachel Clarke, said: “Since they were in prime position – near where the players came out and the royal box – I can only assume that they were corporate seats. They were in a good spot for a fantastic game but they remained empty.”

Many people have expressed disappointment over the sight of empty seats after failing to get tickets for events.

Diana Hill said: “To sit down and watch the first day and see the dressage event half full, huge chunks of seating empty in men’s gymnastics and badminton (and I’m sure many more events), is incredibly frustrating.

“Where are all these apparently <<sold out>> tickets going to? Sponsors? It’s a sad joke.”

Tennis fans have also complained over queues to get into Wimbledon on Saturday morning, saying a ticket office was closed because the key to open it had been lost.

Richard Till, from Birmingham, said he spent three hours waiting to collect tickets.

He said: “There were people visiting from abroad standing in the queue behind me; it was an embarrassment for the first full day of Olympics events. The people working in the ticket office didn’t have a clue; it took four people standing around a computer to print off a receipt.”

LOCOG has yet to respond to requests for a comment.

 

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Thousands of people awaits the spectacular opening of the London Games, as a fly-past by the Red Arrows marked the start of the pre-show.

The nine RAF jets flew over the Olympic Stadium at the symbolic time of 20:12 BST, amid cheers.

The three-hour spectacle will be viewed by a TV audience of one billion people.

Details of the ceremony remain a closely-guarded secret. Its artistic director, Danny Boyle, has dedicated it to the 15,000 volunteers taking part.

Danny Boyle has spoken of his “excitement” for the ceremony, which is named the Isles of Wonder, as well as feeling “nervousness” for all the volunteers.

Thousands of people awaits the spectacular opening of the London Games, as a fly-past by the Red Arrows marked the start of the pre-show

Thousands of people awaits the spectacular opening of the London Games, as a fly-past by the Red Arrows marked the start of the pre-show

The Oscar-winning film director said the ceremony “might surprise people… it’s spectacular, but also inclusive – it has a warmth”.

The chairman of London 2012, Lord Sebastian Coe, said he was “as excited as hell”.

Crowds of people, many of them dressed up in their nation’s colors, are gathering in large numbers at the Olympic Park.

Transport to the stadium appears to be running smoothly and the crowds are moving quickly through security.

Rain has started to fall over the stadium, despite forecasters predicting dry weather ahead of the ceremony.

The day of celebration began at 08:12 BST with a mass bell ringing. Big Ben rang for three minutes for the first time since King George VI’s funeral in 1952.

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Nick Green, the Australian Olympic team chief, has slammed a newspaper as “disgraceful” for describing triple-gold medallist Leisel Jones as overweight just two days before the start of London 2012.

Swimmer Leisel Jones’s physique was today targeted in the Melbourne Herald Sun, which suggested she may be out of shape as she prepares for her fourth Olympics.

The paper questioned whether Leisel Jones, 26, fits into her swimsuit as well as she did four years ago, while a poll asked readers whether she is fit enough to compete.

A caption under an unflattering photo of Leisel Jones in the athlete read: “The Olympic veteran’s figure is in stark contrast to that of 2008.”

Swimmer Leisel Jones's physique was today targeted in the Melbourne Herald Sun, which suggested she may be out of shape as she prepares for her fourth Olympics

Swimmer Leisel Jones's physique was today targeted in the Melbourne Herald Sun, which suggested she may be out of shape as she prepares for her fourth Olympics

Nick Green has hit out at the paper for treating her in this manner.

He said: “I think it’s disgraceful to be honest. I’m disappointed with the article and it’s extremely unfair on Leisel Jones.

“She is a triple Olympic gold medallist for this country, I think she deserves a lot more respect than she has been given.”

Leisel Jones won the 100-meter breaststroke at Beijing in 2008 and is competing at her fourth Olympics.

Her coach Michael Bohl said he was happy with her condition.

Michael Bohl said: “She’s been doing nine sessions a week, and two gym sessions a week coming into this, and we were really happy with her form.”

Leisel Jones was also supported by former 400 meter track gold medallist Cathy Freeman, who described the comments about the swimmer’s weight “un-Australian”.

Cathy Freeman said: “It’s not very friendly or encouraging at this stage.”

But Leisel Jones denied she was feeling pressure about her weight.

Leisel Jones said: “I’m so relaxed, and I’m just really enjoying everything about these games and the lead-up.”

 

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Members of Egypt’s Olympic team have been given fake Nike gear, Yomna Khallaf, a synchronized swimmer, has alleged.

Yomna Khallaf said her workout bags had a big Nike logo in the front but the zippers had an Adidas branding on them.

The Egyptian Olympic Committee (EOC) secretary general, Motaz Sonbol, said they were shocked to find that the gear was not “directly from Nike”.

Nike said it was “concerned” athletes may have received products that do not meet the company’s quality standards.

Members of Egypt's Olympic team have been given fake Nike gear, Yomna Khallaf, a synchronized swimmer, has alleged

Members of Egypt's Olympic team have been given fake Nike gear, Yomna Khallaf, a synchronized swimmer, has alleged

A Nike spokesman said the company was recently made aware that the EOC chose a sports gear vendor who allegedly supplied counterfeit footwear and apparel bearing the Nike trademarks.

The company said it was now in discussions with the EOC to see if a solution could be reached.

But the committee’s chairman, General Mahmoud Ahmed Ali, defended the decision to go for the “counterfeit” gear because of his country’s tight finances, AP reports.

“We signed with a Chinese distributor in light of Egypt’s economic situation,” he said.

Yomna Khallaf tweeted that she had to spend more than $300 of her own money to buy satisfactory gear.

The incident has caused a major controversy on social media, with some users describing it as a disgrace.

Egypt is being represented by 112 Olympians at London 2012.

 

Parts of Twitter became inaccessible today, in the eve of Olympic Games opening, before thousands of fans are expected to start tweeting.

The Twitter.com site was unreachable for almost an hour, and continued to suffer intermittent faults thereafter.

The service was still accessible via its mobile site and other applications.

In a message to users, the company said: “Howdy folks, looks like we’re experiencing a small interruption of Twitter.com and some mobile clients.

On its network status page, the company wrote: “Our engineers are currently working to resolve the issue.”

The Twitter.com site was unreachable for almost an hour, and continued to suffer intermittent faults thereafter

The Twitter.com site was unreachable for almost an hour, and continued to suffer intermittent faults thereafter

It is not yet known what caused the fault. Users that could access the service reported that shortened URL links included in tweets were not working properly.

Twitter is expected to be one of the main social networks to be used by both fans and athletes during the Games.

Sporting events regularly attract the service’s biggest audience.

During Spain’s Euro 2012 win, there were over 15,000 tweets every second.

For London 2012, there are over 2,000 verified Olympians – past and present – that are signed up to use the service.

Downtime plagued Twitter during its early years, but subsequent investment meant the site has become more reliable.

Last month, Twitter blamed a “cascading bug” for causing “turbulence” on the service which made the site slow or inaccessible for about two hours.

At the time, Mazen Rawashdeh, the site’s vice president of engineering, apologized to users but praised the site’s recent reliability record.

“For the past six months, we’ve enjoyed our highest marks for site reliability and stability ever: at least 99.96% and often 99.99%.

“In simpler terms, this means that in an average 24-hour period, twitter.com has been stable and available to everyone for roughly 23 hours, 59 minutes and 40-ish seconds.”

 

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London Olympic organizers have apologized to the North Korean women’s football team after their images were shown on a screen beside a South Korean flag.

Kick-off at Glasgow’s Hampden Park on the first day of the Games’ sporting action was delayed for about an hour.

The men’s football competition gets under way with eight games later, including Britain v Senegal at Old Trafford at 20:00 BST.

The penultimate day of the torch relay sees the flame visit Buckingham Palace.

The flag mix-up at Hampden Park had been an “embarrassing mistake” and not the start Games organizers would have wanted, but “no great harm was done”.

As the North Korean players were being introduced before the match against Colombia, South Korean flags were mistakenly displayed in the video package.

London Olympic organizers have apologized to the North Korean women's football team after their images were shown on a screen beside a South Korean flag

London Olympic organizers have apologized to the North Korean women's football team after their images were shown on a screen beside a South Korean flag

The squad walked off and could only be persuaded to return when the teams were announced again with each player’s face displayed next to the North Korean flag.

Relations between the two Koreas are tense – they remain technically at war following the 1950-53 Korean conflict, which ended in an armistice.

Speaking after the match, North Korea’s coach Sin Ui Gun said: “Our team was not going to participate unless the problem was solved properly…

“Unfortunately it took some time later for the broadcast to be done again properly and we made the decision to go on with the match.”

It was not immediately clear who had produced the video shown in the stadium.

A statement released by London 2012 organizers said: “We will apologize to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.”

London 2012 spokesman Andy Mitchell said: “The South Korean flag was shown in the video package on the screen before the kick-off and the North Koreans were naturally very upset about that…

“A genuine mistake was made for which we apologize.”

The opening match in the men’s football gets under way at 12:00 BST at Hampden Park when Honduras take on Morocco, followed by Spain v Japan.

Matches are also taking place at St James’ Park in Newcastle, Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and the City of Coventry Stadium.

 

In other Olympics news:

• In the first event of the Games, Britain’s women footballers beat New Zealand 1-0 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. This was one of six women’s football matches played on Wednesday

• Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the torch relay in Tottenham, north London, on Wednesday. On the torch relay’s penultimate outing – day 69, which can be followed live here – the flame will pass through Downing Street and be greeted at Buckingham Palace by Princes William and Harry, and the Duchess of Cambridge

• A global investment conference being held in London on Thursday will kick off a series of business summits intended to showcase the UK and attract investment during

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Greek Olympian triple jumper Voula Papachristou has been expelled from her country’s Olympic team over comments she posted on Twitter which were deemed racist.

Voula Papachristou was due to compete in the London 2012 Games, which officially start this Friday.

But the Hellenic Olympic Committee said her posts mocking African immigrants and expressing support for a far-right party went against the Olympic spirit.

Voula Papachristou has apologized for the “unfortunate and tasteless joke”.

As well as the comment on Sunday referring to the West Nile virus and Africans living in Greece, Voula Papachristou had also reposted a tweet by Ilias Kasidiaris, a politician with the far-right Golden Dawn party, criticizing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s stance on immigration.

She had previously retweeted several links to videos promoting the views of Golden Dawn, which won 7% of the vote in Greece’s recent elections, and had directly communicated online with Ilias Kasidiaris.

Ilias Kasidiaris gained notoriety for slapping one left-wing woman politician and throwing water over another, during a heated debate on a television show.

Triple jumper Voula Papachristou has been expelled from Greek's Olympic team over racist comments she posted on Twitter

Triple jumper Voula Papachristou has been expelled from Greek's Olympic team over racist comments she posted on Twitter

Voula Papachristou tweeted him on his name day last week: “Many happy years, be always strong and true!!!”

The athlete’s remarks had prompted calls from the public and within the Greek government for her to be thrown out of the team.

The head of the Greek committee, Isidoros Kouvelos, said the 23-year-old had “showed no respect for the basic Olympian value”.

“She made a mistake and in life we pay for our mistakes,” he told Skai TV.

Earlier in the week, Voula Papachristou had responded online, saying “that’s how I am” and that she was not like a stuck CD: “If I make mistakes, I don’t press the replay! I press Play and move on!”

But in a statement on her Facebook page and Twitter on Wednesday, Voula Papachristou said she was “very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights”.

She apologized to her friends, family, fellow athletes and the national team, but said it would not have been possible for her to compete if she did not support the values of the Games.

“Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races.”

The Greek committee said she had been “placed outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement”.

However, her coach George Pomaski said the punishment had been too harsh and she had already apologized.

“This is a big disappointment not only for her but for her family and for myself, and anyone involved in the Greek team,” he said.

George Pomaski said he had been unable to contact Voula Papachristou for several hours.

Greece is experiencing a sharp rise in racism, with the popularity of right-wing parties such as Golden Dawn soaring.

The government has come under pressure to crack down on racism in all domains, including sport.

The Olympic Charter

The Olympic Charter, established by Baron Pierre de Coubertin the founder of the modern competition, states that: “The practice of sport is a human right.”

Everyone should be able to play sport “without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

The spirit of the games is about the power of sport over politics, where perseverance and hard work are paid off with medals; where ordinary people can become national heroes.

This ideology has been expanded over the years. In the words of the London2012 official education programme, Get Set: “The Olympic and Paralympic Games are about much more than sporting excellence.”

 

 

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Women’s football is the first event of the Olympics and is to kick off later, two days before the official opening ceremony.

The Team GB women’s football side will get 18 days of sport under way at 16:00 BST against New Zealand at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Designated Games Lanes, covering about 30 miles of roads and off limits to the public, have begun operating in London.

And government lawyers will go to court to try to stop a public sector workers’ strike on the eve of the Games.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt will join Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan in Cardiff for the first event of the 2012 Games.

Women’s football is the first event of the Olympics and is to kick off later, two days before the official opening ceremony

Women’s football is the first event of the Olympics and is to kick off later, two days before the official opening ceremony

Team GB coach Hope Powell said opening the Games was a “great honour” and would hopefully give people “a greater appreciation of how good women’s football actually is”.

And captain Casey Stoney said she hoped the fixture could “raise the profile of women’s football”.

“It’s a global thing, not just for our nation, and hopefully we can put on a good show – but we are just focused on getting the job done.”

Team GB drew 0-0 against Sweden in their final warm-up fixture at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium last Friday.

Relative unknowns Cameroon and heavily fancied Brazil will take each other on at the stadium after the GB game, and four other matches in the same competition are also taking place later in the day at Hampden Park in Glasgow and the City of Coventry Stadium.

The Olympic Route Network (ORN), made up of 175 miles of roads connecting up the main Olympic venues across the country, comes into force on Wednesday.

It is designed to make it easier for athletes and officials to get around the Games and has seen junctions blocked off, bus stops moved and parking bays suspended.

As part of the ORN, the designated Games Lanes in London will be in operation between 06:00 BST and midnight and only open to VIPs, athletes and accredited media.

Ordinary motorists going into the lanes face fines of £130 ($205).

Mark Evers, Transport for London’s (TfL) director of Games transport, said commuters must leave more time for their journeys.

“The worst case scenario for us is that people try to chance it and, those first few days of the Games, that they try to do what they ordinarily do – and I can guarantee all people that travel around London, those first few days of the Games are going to be really busy,” Mark Evers said.

“It’s vitally important that they come up with a plan that takes into account the busy parts of the network.”

TfL commissioner Peter Hendy said the early signs were positive: “We’ve seen a marked reduction in road traffic in the last 10 days, which is along the lines of what we asked Londoners and people who work in London to do.”

In the High Court, the government is to argue for an injunction to prevent public sector workers, including immigration and passport workers at Heathrow and other airports, taking strike action on Thursday.

Thousands of spectators are expected to arrive at Heathrow Airport on that day.

The Home Office says it believes there was a “procedural error” in the ballot of members of the Public and Commercial Services union.

But the PCS said it was “confident” the strike was legal and would happen.

The government insists contingency plans are in place in the event of industrial action.

 

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Spectators who attended a preview of the Olympic Games opening ceremony have been urged to keep the details secret and not spoil the surprise for others.

Thousands of people who attended a rehearsal on Monday were asked not to circulate images or videos.

Danny Boyle, the ceremony’s artistic director, reportedly addressed the audience to “save the surprise”.

About 62,000 are set to attend the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, on Friday.

The event is expected to be watched by an audience of billions worldwide.

Spectators who attended a preview of the Olympic Games opening ceremony have been urged to keep the details secret and not spoil the surprise for others

Spectators who attended a preview of the Olympic Games opening ceremony have been urged to keep the details secret and not spoil the surprise for others

Olympic organizers LOCOG said the technical rehearsal for the opening ceremony “went very well”.

“The reaction from the attendees has been overwhelmingly positive on social media and crucially they are still helping us to save the surprise for the rest of the nation on Friday,” it said.

People who attended the rehearsal reported that the hashtag “#savethesurprise” was emblazoned on giant screens inside the Olympic Stadium.

It later trended globally on micro-blogging website Twitter.

In other developments:

• Transport for London has apologized after people leaving the rehearsal were delayed getting home because the Central Line, which serves Stratford, was partly suspended

• The British Olympic Association says it has asked triple jumper Phillips Idowu to supply details about his injury ahead of the Games after the 2008 Olympics silver medallist pulled out of the Great Britain athletics team’s training camp

• On Tuesday, Heathrow is set for its busiest day for Olympics so far as it prepares to handle about 217,000 passengers, including some 1,200 athletes and coaches and more than 3,000 other Games-related arrivals

• Motorists have faced long queues on routes where pre-Olympics modifications have been made to road layouts

• And the Olympic torch is travelling from Kingston, in south west London, to Ealing, west London, as it continues its tour of the host city’s 33 boroughs.

Most people who attended the rehearsal appeared to obey the appeal for secrecy, although there have been reports of some images being posted on the internet before being removed shortly after.

Many took to Twitter to show their support after the rehearsal.

“I am now sitting on my seat in the Olympic Stadium. But I shall #savethesurprise and not tweet details of the ceremony. Sorry,” tweeted Dan McNeil.

And many gave positive reviews of the ceremony on the website.

One person who was in the audience, Pete Hendrick, tweeted: “If you’ve got plans Friday night, cancel them. Opening ceremony is out of this world. Danny Boyle, I salute you.”

Chris Golds, another audience member, said the event was “breathtaking” and “awe inspiring”.