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The bidding to host the Olympic games is a lengthy, drawn out process with initial invitations sent out as much as 10 years before the event is scheduled to take place. Bidding cities also have to shell out a hefty amount just to apply with a $150,000 price tag on the application fee and a further $500,000 once their application has been accepted. These fees are the ensure that the bidding cities are serious about hosting the games and have the funds to do so.

Image result for 2016 Olympics

The recent Rio games that just ended in August had a budget set by the Rio Organizing committee of $2.25 billion USD for the planning and operating expenses alone, this did not include the cost of building and running the venues and infrastructure though.

For the 2016 Olympics, four out of seven applicant cities landed in the IOC’s shortlist. Chicago was one of them and considered a serious contender, despite two unsuccessful bids for the Summer Olympics in 1952 and 1956. In the one and only time Chicago was chosen as a venue, for the 1904 games, the games were moved to St. Louis, MO. The city was holding its World Fair within the same period as the Olympics and demanded for the IOC to award the Games to them. The IOC founder and president Pierre de Coubertin reluctantly acquiesced but to show his displeasure, did not attend the Games.

The 1904 Games would have been a significant event for Chicago, since it was the first Olympiad to be held in the US. Could it have been an omen for things to come? Its 2016 bid failed too, following the course of its two previous attempts. But if it’s any comfort, the St. Louis hosting was a dismal failure. Coubertin even made an un-Olympic statement about it, saying “I had a sort of presentiment that the Olympiad would match the mediocrity of the town.”

Chicago’s 2016 bid was accepted on September 2007 and eminent personalities led by no less than US President Barack Obama, a native Chicagoan, began their campaign for the city in earnest. Whether Obama, along with Oprah and Michael Jordan, were significant factors to its failed bid, is still up in the air. What’s clear is, media personalities  who had given their all-out support to The Windy City’s proposal are now one in saying they’re relieved and elated  that the city lost. The No Games Chicago movement, which claims to have been the inspiration for the Boston and Hamburg opposition to their cities bidding for 2024, is on “I told you so” mode. They had been opposed to the city’s bid for the Games from Day 1, citing the astronomical cost and financial drain on the city’s treasury. Its unrealistically low bid of $4.2 billion would have put the city in debt in the years to come, the movement claims, citing the Vancouver and London post-Olympics predicament. Afterwards, it was learned that Chicago had spent nearly $80 million for the bid. Then Mayor Richard M. Daley, the bid’s strongest supporter and who was on his sixth term as mayor, declined to run again when his term ended in 2011. Many believe Chicago’s shocking bid loss was central to his decision to retire.

The Olympic bidding process speeds up 24 months before elections. Once a city is recognized as an applicant by the International Olympic Committee (IOC,) it has two years to prepare its bid before the IOC makes a decision on the winning bidder. It has to create a presentation to show to the IOC why it is the most qualified to become a host city. The preparation that builds up in the next two years is an elaborate and meticulous program that details the city’s plans for the Games. It includes several aspects such as the infrastructure; accommodations for the players and teams from the different countries and for visitors who come specifically for the Olympic experience; a reliable mass transport system that will carry the participants and spectators to the venues; the highest level of security and where it gets its funding.


Creating a worthy presentation that will amaze the decision-makers and hopefully influence them to vote for the bid city needs skilled consultants and professionals in the different disciplines. And these experts charge notoriously high fees which the cities are willing to pay. It is not unusual for applicants to host the Olympic Games to rely on those consultants and professionals to support their application, and the IOC even encourages this practice. Take for example, Boston’s cancelled bid for the 2024 Olympiad. Pressed for transparency, the Boston bidding group released its proposed funding, including consultants’ fees. The total amount to be paid for consultancy companies is $124,000 per month and their contract is for the duration of several months. These are consultancies for marketing and PR, communications works, grassroots and community outreach, political and media consulting, strategies, government outreach and fundraising work.

The amount does not include the fee for former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick who will get $7,500 per day to promote Boston to the IOC members. The Boston 2024 staff of ten people will get a total salary of $1,390,500. And in spite of its cancellation, it still had a debt of over $4 million. A major factor in its decision to cancel is the lack of public support and loud protests against the city’s move to bid.

For the 2020 Games that was awarded to Tokyo, no American city joined the bidding due to an ongoing dispute between the IOC and the US Olympic Committee.

On consultancy fees, Japan is currently under investigation for depositing over $2 million in a dubious bank account in Singapore. Japan Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda has stated that it is legitimate payment for consultants’ fees for the planning and execution of its presentation for the 2020 bidding, which Japan finally won because of this consultants’ fee as a result. But overzealous French police want to pursue a possible link with the son of Lamine Diack, discredited ex-president of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) who has been charged with accepting bribe money to cover up the Russian athletes’ doping. Diack’s son, who is also facing charges, is a close friend of the owner of the bank account. Investigations have not turned up any evidence of wrongdoing but the IOC is awaiting final results from the French magistrates and JOC’s own probe.

Hints of bribery and corruption always assail any Olympic bidding. Jerry Colangelo, a Chicago native and a member of the 2016 bid team, now claims he believes the elections were rigged in favor of Rio de Janeiro. Rio itself is suffering from corruption issues involving its big construction businesses that have been given Olympic venue projects. The Olympic movement had suffered a blow to its image with the 2002 Winter Olympics scandal.

For the 2024 bidding, Paris and Los Angeles are two of the four contenders left, after Boston, Toronto and Hamburg withdrew their bids. The cities have come up with low-cost plans, in accordance with the Olympic Agenda 2020 that changed the rules of the bidding and planning processes. Paris will have minimal constructions, since 95 percent of the requirements will utilize existing venues. Total cost is pegged at $9.3 billion (6.2 billion euros) for infrastructure and operational expenses. Los Angeles has put forward a potential total budget of $6 billion including cost overruns. The Organizing Committee has said that $1.7 billion of the amount would come from private-sector investors. LA is able to reduce expenses because it will utilize current venues, of which there are many. The Staples Center, the LA Coliseum and university campuses for athletes and media housing are only some of them. The winner for the 2024 Games will be announced in Lima, Peru on September 2017.

But nothing tops the 2014 Sochi Olympics that had actual costs running to $54.9 billion , up 4.5 times more than its planned $12.3 billion. Overpaid but dismal accommodations and the overall poor conditions after extensive preparations suggest massive corruption in the infrastructure aspect. Beijing 2008 ranks second in the list of most expensive Olympics, with the city spending around $44 billion. The billion-dollar stadiums that are now white elephants raise the question of the wisdom of Beijing holding the Olympics. The same scenario is also playing out in cities that have won the bid for having the games in their areas. Considering the above cases, it might be one of understandable reasons why Tokyo won the bidding race, which reduced the estimated costs to $17 billion by using existing facilities for a certain amount of the infrastructure.

Fortunately, the movement has a president who is pragmatic and pro-active. President Thomas Bach, seeing that cities are running away from the Olympic biddings, has instituted changes to make the bidding process friendlier, less costly and more sustainable, and one that leaves a legacy to its host city. The legend that is the Olympics will remain relevant if these changes are followed.

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Bulgarian athlete Silvia Danekova has tested positive for banned blood booster EPO at the Rio Olympics.

Silvia Danekova, 33, tested positive in a doping control conducted a few days after her arrival in Brazil on July 26.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

The 3,000m steeplechase athlete has been temporarily suspended pending the test of her B sample.

“Unfortunately, we have a positive test,” confirmed the Bulgarian Olympic Committee, whose weightlifting team was banned from the Games for doping.

Silvia Danekova raced in the 3,000m steeplechase at the London Olympics in 2012 but did not get beyond the heats.

The athletics program at the Rio Olympics will begin on August 12.

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Namibian Jonas Junius is the second boxer arrested by Brazilian police on suspicion of attempting to assault a maid in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic village.

The maid alleged Jonas Junius, 22, had grabbed her and tried to kiss her. The woman also accused the boxer of offering her money.

Jonas Junius is competing in the light-welterweight division.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

Last week, Moroccan boxer Hassan Saada was arrested by police after allegedly assaulting two female cleaners.

A judge has ordered Hassan Saada to be detained for 15 days, pending an investigation, media reports said.

This could mean Hassan Saada is unable to take part in the Games.

Jonas Junius, Namibia’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremony on August 5, is scheduled to fight French boxer Hassan Anzille on August 11.

However, that could also be in doubt if he has to remain in custody.

Athletes from 206 nations and a refugee team are in Brazil to compete in 28 sports. They will be watched by a global audience of billions.

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Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games will officially start on August 5 with the opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium.

Athletes from 206 nations and a refugee team are in Brazil to compete in 28 sports and be watched by a global audience of billions.

These are the Games of the 31st Olympiad but are the 28th to be held as those in 1916, 1940 and 1944 did not take place because of war.

The Olympic Games – held in South America for the first time – officially take place between August 5 and 21, but they have actually already started.

The opening ceremony is taking place on August 5 at 7.30 PM ET/PT, but the action kicked off two days ago with the women’s soccer. Russia banned from Rio Olympics 2016

An estimated three billion people will watch the ceremony, which has taken five years to produce and includes 300 dancers, 5,000 volunteers and 12,000 costumes.

Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen and Judi Dench are confirmed to have roles in the production before the 207 competing teams take part in the Parade of Nations.

There will be 10,500 athletes from a record 207 teams competing in Rio, including the Refugee Olympic Team, while it will be the first time Kosovo and South Sudan have taken part in the Games.

The Refugee Olympic Team will compete under the Olympic flag and has 10 members – five from South Sudan, two from Syria, two from DR Congo and one from Ethiopia.

With 554 athletes, the US has the largest Olympic team and 100m runner Etimoni Timuani is the only athlete from the South Pacific nation of Tuvalu.

The Rio Games will be the first to feature Olympians born since the year 2000 – and the youngest is 13-year-old Nepalese swimmer Gaurika Singh.

Competitions will take place across 32 venues in Rio, with football matches also scheduled for the cities of Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Manaus, Salvador and Sao Paulo.

There are 306 events in 28 Olympic sports but none are bigger than the 100m sprint final and the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt.

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Moroccan boxer Hassan Saada has been detained in Brazil over allegations of assaulting two female cleaners in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic village.

The 22-year-old boxer was held on suspicion of committing the assaults on August 3, a police statement said.

Hassan Saada, who fights in the light-heavyweight category, was due to take part in his first bout on August 6.

A Brazilian judge has ordered Hassan Saada be detained for 15 days, pending an investigation, media reports said.

His detention could mean Hassan Saada is unable to take part in the Games.

Brazilian media reports quoted police as saying the boxer had pushed one of the maids against a wall and tried to kiss her.

There has been no immediate comment from Hassan Saada or Moroccan Olympic officials.

Judge Larissa Nunes Saly said the boxer must remain in detention while the allegations were investigated because of the risks he could reoffend or try to flee the country.

The 2016 Olympic Games officially start in Rio on August 5 with the opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium.

Athletes from 206 nations and a refugee team are in Brazil to compete in 28 sports. They will be watched by a global audience of billions.

The build-up has been dominated by a Russian doping scandal, the Zika virus and issues with the city’s security, infrastructure and venues.

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Russia will not be totally banned from Rio 2016 following the country’s doping scandal.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will leave it up to individual sports’ governing bodies to decide if Russian competitors are clean and should be allowed to take part.

The IOC decision follows a report in which Canadian law professor Richard McLaren said Russia operated a state-sponsored doping program from 2011 to 2015.

The Rio Olympic Games start on August 5.

Russian competitors who want to take part in the Games will have to meet strict criteria laid down by the IOC.

Any Russian who has served a doping ban will not be eligible for next month’s Olympics. Track and field athletes have already been banned.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “We have set the bar to the limit by establishing a number of very strict criteria which every Russian athlete will have to fulfill if he or she wants to participate in the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

“I think in this way, we have balanced on the one hand, the desire and need for collective responsibility versus the right to individual justice of every individual athlete.”

IOC’s decision not to impose a blanket ban came after a three-hour meeting of the body’s executive board, and reaction came quickly.Russia banned from Rio Olympics 2016

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko described the decision as “objective” but “very tough”, while the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) claimed the IOC had “refused to take decisive leadership”.

The 28 individual federations now have just 12 days to “carry out an individual analysis of each competitor’s anti-doping record, taking into account only reliable adequate international tests, and the specificities of each sport and its rules, in order to ensure a level playing field”.

The International Tennis Federation quickly confirmed on July 24 that Russia’s seven nominated tennis players meet the IOC requirements, having been subjected to “a rigorous anti-doping testing program outside Russia”.

Russia’s full Olympic team would consist of 387 competitors.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has already ruled that Russian track and field athletes will not compete at the Games, a decision which was upheld on July 21 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

IAAF president Lord Sebastian Coe said: “The IAAF team are ready to offer advice to any International Sports Federations given our experience and what we have learned over the last eight months.”

World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) president Craig Reedie said previously that his organization, which commissioned the McLaren report, wanted the IOC to “decline entries for Rio 2016 of all athletes” submitted by the Russian Olympic and Paralympic committees.

The IOC also confirmed it will not allow whistleblower Yulia Stepanova to compete as a neutral athlete in Rio.

Yulia Stepanova has previously failed a doping test and also did not satisfy the IOC’s “ethical requirements”.

The statement added: “The executive board would like to express its appreciation for Mrs. Stepanova’s contribution to the fight against doping and to the integrity of sport.”

The IOC was “expressing its gratitude” to Yulia Stepanova by inviting her and her husband to Rio as guests.

USADA chief Travis Tygart described the decision to exclude Yulia Stepanova as “incomprehensible”, adding it will “undoubtedly deter whistleblowers in the future from coming forward”.

Brazil has welcomed the Olympic flame for the start of a torch relay that will culminate with the opening of the Olympic Games in Rio in August.

The flame was flown inside a small lantern on a special flight from the Swiss city of Geneva to Brasilia.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff lit the Olympic torch which will be carried around Brazil by 12,000 runners.

It could be one of Dilma Rousseff’s last public acts ahead of a possible impeachment trial.

The Senate is expected to vote next week on whether proceedings against the president should go ahead.Olympic torch Brazil 2016

If a simple majority votes in favor, Dilma Rousseff will be suspended from office for up to 180 days and Vice-President Michel Temer will take over.

Dilma Rousseff is accused of manipulating government accounts ahead of her re-election in 2014.

The Olympic torch will pass through more than 300 towns and cities from the Amazon to Brazil’s southern border, arriving at the Maracana Stadium in Rio on August 5.

Among the first torchbearers will be a Syrian refugee who now lives in Brazil.

The first torchbearer was Fabiana Claudino, who led Brazil to Olympic gold medals in women’s volleyball in the 2008 and 2012 games, and is team captain this time.

Brazilian mathematician Artur Avila Cordeiro de Melo ran the second leg.

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Greece handed over the Olympic flame to the Brazilian authorities during a ceremony in Athens.

The Olympic torch will arrive in Brazil next week and then will travel around the country ahead of the games in August.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes says the Olympic park is almost ready but there are concerns about delays to some projects.

The impeachment proceedings against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff mean there is uncertainty as to who will be in power during the Olympic Games.

Photo Yahoo News

Photo Yahoo News

Brazil’s unemployment has also risen to about 10% as the economy has contracted for the second year in a row.

Rights group Amnesty International has also criticized the number of killings by police in the city’s shantytowns, known as favelas, where residents were “living in terror”.

Officers have killed 11 people in the favelas so far this month, Amnesty said, and were behind 307 such deaths last year.

Nevertheless, the head of Rio’s organizing committee Carlos Nuzman said the city was “ready to make history” as the flame was handed over to the Brazilians.

The Olympic torch will arrive on May 3 in the capital Brasilia after a short stopover in Switzerland.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to lift the ban on India’s Olympic Association (IOA), allowing the country to return to the Olympic fold, officials say.

The IOC suspended India for electing officials accused of corruption in 2012, in breach of the Olympic charter.

But on Sunday the IOA conducted fresh elections which were seen as fair.

The IOC has lifted the ban on IOA, allowing India to return to the Olympic fold

The IOC has lifted the ban on IOA, allowing India to return to the Olympic fold

Indian athletes have been competing at the Sochi Winter Games under the IOC flag but can now do so under their own.

“The decision means Indian athletes can compete for their national Olympic committee. They can walk behind their national flag at the closing ceremony,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

“The Indian flag will be raised in the [Sochi Winter Games] village, at a time to be announced,” Mark Adams added.

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Sochi has opened the 22nd Winter Olympics with a spectacular ceremony.

More than 2,900 athletes from 87 nations paraded before 40,000 people in the Fisht Stadium before President Vladimir Putin declared the Games open.

The Olympic flame was lit by Russian former triple gold medalists Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina as fireworks illuminated the night sky.

At a cost of $50 billion, the Sochi Games is the most expensive Olympics in history.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach used his welcome speech at the ceremony to promote Olympic values of diversity and non-discrimination.

“The Olympics are about building bridges to bring people together,” Thomas Bach said.

“They are not about erecting walls to keep people apart. Embrace human diversity and unity.”

President Barack Obama and UK’s PM David Cameron stayed away from the ceremony, which was attended by 44 heads of state.

Vladimir Putin avoided making a political statement as he stuck to protocol by using a single sentence to declare the Games open.

Sochi has opened the 22nd Winter Olympics with a spectacular ceremony

Sochi has opened the 22nd Winter Olympics with a spectacular ceremony

Spectators inside the stadium and television viewers worldwide were treated to a glittering show lasting nearly three hours and featuring 22 tonnes of fireworks.

In a grand finale, tennis star Maria Sharapova, who grew up in Sochi, carried the Olympic flame into the stadium before it passed through the hands of pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva, wrestler Aleksandr Karelin and gymnast Alina Kabaeva,

It was carried out of the arena by former figure skater Irina Rodnina and ice hockey player Vladislav Tretiak, who lit the cauldron in the middle of the Olympic park while Igor Stravinksy’s Firebird Suite filled the stadium.

In a break from Olympic tradition, the teams had earlier entered in the order of the Russian alphabet, with the host nation coming in last to deafening cheers.

Athletes from the competing nations appeared to emerge from their country’s map courtesy of a dazzling light show.

While some nations – including Nepal, Mexico and Pakistan – are sending only one competitor, the US team of 230 athletes is the largest in the history of the Winter Games.

The US have never appeared at an Olympics on Russian soil having boycotted the Moscow summer Games in 1980.

The ceremony featured a colorful journey through Russian history, celebrating the country’s rich heritage in art, music and ballet, with 3,000 performers and 2,000 volunteers taking part.

In a moving sequence the lights were lowered as performers, dressed in white to symbolize peace, danced to the strains of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Hosting an Olympics for the first time since 1980, Russian athletes are under pressure to improve on the embarrassment of 11th place at the last Winter Games in Vancouver.

Russia has devoted $940 million to elite winter sport since winning the bid to host these Games seven years ago.

The first medals of the Games will be decided on Saturday with five golds up for grabs in biathlon, cross country skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding and speed skating.

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Sochi Olympic Games officially open in Russia on Friday, with 98 medals to be won over 16 days.

Sochi, on Russia’s Black Sea coast, will welcome about 2,900 athletes in 15 disciplines as the opening ceremony begins at 20:14 local time.

The build-up has been overshadowed by security fears, human rights concerns and delays to preparations.

But, at $50 billion, the cost of these Games is more than the combined total of all other Olympic Winter Games to date.

Canada, Norway and the United States are considered the likeliest candidates to top the Sochi medal table.

Hosting an Olympics for the first time since the boycotted Moscow Games of 1980, Russian athletes are under pressure to improve on the embarrassment of 11th place at the last Winter Games in Vancouver.

Russia has devoted $950 million to elite winter sport since winning the bid to host these Games seven years ago.

Russian attention will be focused on the men’s ice hockey team, who have yet to win Olympic gold since the break-up of the Soviet Union (although a Unified Team featuring Russian players won gold in 1992), and popular figure skater Evgeni Plushenko, who has overcome injury to feature in the Games but faces a tough task to win a medal.

Norway will look to biathlon and cross-country skiing for the bulk of their medals, while Canada’s medals will come from short track speed skating, in particular Charles Hamelin, who has the potential to be one of the faces of the Games, as well as freestyle skiing and snowboard.

The US will expect big things from Alpine skiing and bobsleigh.

Sochi will welcome about 2,900 athletes in 15 disciplines as the opening ceremony begins at 20:14 local time

Sochi will welcome about 2,900 athletes in 15 disciplines as the opening ceremony begins at 20:14 local time

In the absence of injured skier Lindsey Vonn, the leading American lights are slalom specialist Mikaela Shiffrin and snowboarder Shaun White – despite his withdrawal from the slopestyle contest on Wednesday, citing concerns over the safety of the course.

Security in Sochi has been prominent as the world’s athletes and media arrive for the Games. Threats in recent months have included repeated calls to disrupt the Olympics from the Imarat Kavkaz group in the North Caucasus, suicide bombings in the nearby city of Volgograd, and a recent US warning about the potential for “toothpaste” bombs on flights.

Journalists arriving in the region have found hotel rooms and other facilities unfinished amid a last-minute rush by organizers to complete building work, although the Olympic venues themselves have largely met with praise from athletes.

Russian opposition politicians and analysts have attributed Olympic project delays to corruption, which they say accounts for much of the Sochi Games’ substantial cost – more than three times the London 2012 budget.

Liliya Shevtsova, a senior associate at a Moscow public policy research centre, believes the Games are “an embodiment of corruption, inefficiency, irrationality, extreme vanity and megalomania”.

Sochi’s organizers do not recognize the $50 billion figure (they claim it includes the costs of infrastructure which may have been built anyway) and insist their outlay has been closer to $6.5 billion.

Alexander Zhukov, president of Russia’s Olympic Committee, said the authorities had “uncovered no cases of corruption”.

Meanwhile IOC president Thomas Bach has said athletes who oppose Russia’s “anti-gay” legislation are free to express their views in interviews with the media, but must not do so on the podium or during their events.

Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium should be at full 40,000 capacity for the opening ceremony, although empty seats are anticipated at venues once the action begins.

Two weeks before the Games, organizers reported they had sold 70% of available tickets. Vancouver 2010, by contrast, sold 97% of its tickets with London 2012 achieving a similar figure.

For the first time in 30 years, events at the Winter Olympics began before the opening ceremony.

Women’s ski jump, luge team relay and biathlon mixed relay are among other events appearing on the Olympic program for the first time.

The first medals of the Games will be decided on Saturday with five golds up for grabs in biathlon, cross country skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding and speedskating.

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The US has banned all liquids from carry-on bags on nonstop flights to Russia, on the eve of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

The restrictions come a day after US officials warned that explosives could be smuggled on flights to Russia in toothpaste tubes.

Terrorists could attempt to assemble explosive devices in flight or upon arrival, the officials warned.

Security has been elevated in the lead-up to the Games, which start on Friday.

The US airline restrictions unveiled on Thursday temporarily ban carry-on liquids, gels or aerosols aboard direct flights to Russia.

Russia has already banned all liquids, pastes and gels from its airports and internal flights last month.

The US has banned all liquids from carry-on bags on nonstop flights to Russia, on the eve of the Sochi Winter Olympics

The US has banned all liquids from carry-on bags on nonstop flights to Russia, on the eve of the Sochi Winter Olympics

On Thursday, President Barack Obama said Russia had an “enormous stake” in foiling terrorism at the Games.

He told NBC television network the US government was doing everything it could to ensure athletes’ safety.

The US has already placed two warships in the Black Sea, ready to offer help in case of a security emergency during the Games.

Russian Deputy PM Dmitry Kozak has said the level of security at Sochi “is similar to that of any other safe city in the world”.

Fears surrounding the Winter Olympics in Russia were heightened following two suicide attacks in Volgograd in December, as well as numerous threats from Islamist militants in the Caucasus region.

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Indian athletes participating at next month’s Winter Games in Sochi will compete under the Olympic flag, not their national flag.

The three Indians who qualified for the Sochi Games will compete as “independent” athletes, rather than represent their country, after India’s Olympic body failed to schedule elections before the start of the Olympics on February 7.

The Indian Olympic Association was suspended by the IOC in December 2012 for electing tainted officials, notably secretary-general Lalit Bhanot, who spent more than 10 months in jail on corruption charges related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

The IOC said last month it would lift the suspension once new elections are held. The Indians have set their general assembly for February 9, two days after the opening of the Sochi Olympics.

“Following the executive board decision in December, the IOC is considering all necessary arrangements for the Indian athletes who have qualified for the Sochi Games to take part as Independent Olympic Participants under the Olympic flag,” the IOC said in a statement on Thursday.

Indian athletes participating at next month's Winter Games in Sochi will compete under the Olympic flag

Indian athletes participating at next month’s Winter Games in Sochi will compete under the Olympic flag

The trio includes Shiva Kesavan, a 32-year-old luger who will be appearing in his fifth Winter Games.

Shiva Kesavan told Indian media that not being able to compete under the national flag was “shameful and pathetic”.

“It is a sad and embarrassing situation that Indian sport has been put in,” he said.

“People around the world know about the failure of our systems and about corruption and bad governance in sports.”

Under pressure from the IOC, the Indian body amended its constitution last month to ban corruption-tainted officials from running for election. Had India not complied, it would have become the first country expelled from the Olympics since South Africa was kicked out more than 40 years ago.

The IOC has made provisions for athletes to compete under the Olympic flag at previous games.

Athletes from the former Netherlands Antilles and marathon runner Guor Marial of South Sudan competed as independents at the 2012 London Olympics. Athletes from East Timor marched under the Olympic flag at the 2000 Sydney Games.

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International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach says he has confidence that Russian authorities will deliver a “safe and secure” Winter Games in Sochi in February 2014.

Thomas Bach wrote to President Vladimir Putin to express condolences for the “despicable” attacks that struck Volgograd within 24 hours.

Investigators say the attacks on a railway station and trolleybus, which killed at least 31 people, were linked.

They struck just over a month before the Winter Olympics begin.

Volgograd was also targeted in October, when a suspected female suicide bomber killed six people in an attack on a bus.

It is being widely assumed in Russia that the people who carried out the Volgograd bombings were involved in the Islamist-inspired insurgency against Russian rule in the Caucasus republics of Chechnya and Dagestan, and that the target was the Games.

In a statement, Russia’s foreign ministry did not blame any particular group but likened the attacks to acts by militants in the US, Syria and elsewhere.

It called for international solidarity in the fight against “an insidious enemy that can only be defeated together”, reported Reuters news agency.

The second blast in Volgograd took place at a busy time on a busy route

The second blast in Volgograd took place at a busy time on a busy route

Regional Governor Sergei Bozhenov said the bombings were a “serious test” for all Volgograd residents and all Russians.

Investigators say at least 14 people were killed in a suicide bombing on a trolleybus in Volgograd on Monday morning.

It came a day after 17 people died in another suicide attack at the central station in the city. Scores were injured in the two attacks.

In his statement, Thomas Bach said he was “certain that everything will be done to ensure the security of the athletes and all the participants of the Olympic Games”, which open on February 7.

But correspondents say despite intense security in Sochi, Russians are palpably nervous that following these attacks in Volgograd – which lies 700 km north-east of Sochi – bombers could also strike elsewhere.

No-one has admitted carrying out either bombing, but they came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov threatened new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Olympics.

Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee – Russia’s main federal investigating authority – said identical explosives were used in the two attacks.

“This confirms the theory that the two attacks are linked. It is possible that they were prepared in the same place,” he said.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered security measures to be tightened across Russia and in particular in Volgograd.

The US condemned the attacks and offered its “full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games”.

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India is facing expulsion from the Olympic movement unless the country complies with ethics rules, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach says.

The IOC suspended India last year because of government interference in its election process.

India has yet to agree to IOC demands to bar officials who have been charged with a criminal offence – an impasse which has led to the final ultimatum.

The Indian body is due to meet on Sunday to consider their position.

India is facing expulsion from the Olympic movement unless the country complies with ethics rules

India is facing expulsion from the Olympic movement unless the country complies with ethics rules

“The [Olympic] charter is clear,” Thomas Bach told Associated Press.

“If the suspension leads to no solution, then further steps could be withdrawal of recognition.”

No country has been banned from the Olympics since the South Africa team was expelled between 1968 and 1988 during the apartheid era.

“We need to be strict and to make sure the rules of good governance are being applied,” Thomas Bach added.

India won two silver medals and four bronze at the London Olympics 2012.

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Vladimir Putin has taken part in a ceremony in Moscow to launch the torch relay for 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The torch will go on a 123-day journey covering some 40,000 miles before the Games start in the Black Sea resort on February 7.

The torch’s journey will include a trip into space.

The Russian president said the Games would show his country’s “respect for equality and diversity”.

The run-up to the Games has so far been marred by controversy over a new Russian law that restricts the spread of information about homosexuality, as well as allegations by rights groups that authorities have rounded up migrant workers who helped build the Games venues in Sochi.

Vladimir Putin has taken part in a ceremony in Moscow to launch the torch relay for 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi

Vladimir Putin has taken part in a ceremony in Moscow to launch the torch relay for 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi

The Olympic flame had been flown in from Greece after being lit last Sunday at the birthplace of the ancient Games.

Hoisting the flame in Moscow, Vladimir Putin declared in a ceremony shown live on television that “our shared dream is becoming reality”.

Vladimir Putin said the Games would show “respect for equality and diversity – ideals that are so intertwined with the ideals of the Olympic movement itself”.

He said the relay would show off Russia “the way that it is and the way we love it”.

“Today is a joyous and momentous day,” Vladimir Putin said.

“The Olympic flame – the symbol of the planet’s main sports event, the symbol of peace and friendship – has arrived in Russia, and in a few minutes it will be on its way around our huge country.”

On its journey the Olympic flame will:

  • Travel to the North Pole on an atomic-powered icebreaker
  • Ascend Europe’s highest peak, Mt Elbrus
  • Be taken to the depths of Lake Baikal in Siberia
  • Be taken on a spacewalk (unlit) at the International Space Station [youtube kOQibnX3_R4]

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Oscar Pistorius has strongly rejected a charge that he murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, was shot dead at South African Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius’s home near Pretoria on Thursday.

Appearing in court in Pretoria, Oscar Pistorius, 26, wept as prosecutors vowed to pursue a charge of premeditated murder.

An application for bail was postponed until next Tuesday and the athlete will remain in police custody.

Dubbed “blade runner”, he made history last summer by becoming the first double-amputee track athlete to run in an Olympic Games.

“The alleged murder is disputed in the strongest terms,” said a statement released by Oscar Pistorius’s family and management company after the court hearing.

“Our thoughts and prayers today should be for Reeva and her family – regardless of the circumstances of this terrible, terrible tragedy,” it said.

They were the first words released on behalf of Oscar Pistorius since Reeva Steenkamp was found fatally wounded at his home in the gated Silver Woods development outside the South African capital.

But they gave no explanation of what had happened.

Hours earlier, Oscar Pistorius sobbed audibly during his initial appearance at Pretoria Magistrates Court.

Dozens of reporters witnessed the hearing, where chief magistrate Desmond Nair was presiding.

The defendant cut a lonely figure in a crowded court, with his hands clenched and his neck muscles twitching, before he held his head forward, breathing heavily through tears.

When Prosecutor Gerrie Nel argued for the graver charge of “premeditated murder”, Oscar Pistorius slumped forward at the mention of the words.

If convicted of premeditated murder, Oscar Pistorius will face a life term in prison. But his defence is seeking a lesser charge, possibly culpable homicide, which is defined in South African law as unlawful, negligent killing.

Oscar Pistorius has strongly rejected a charge that he murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp

Oscar Pistorius has strongly rejected a charge that he murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp

Media access was discussed at the 40-minute session and the magistrate ruled that there should be no live recording of the bail hearings.

Oscar Pistorius’s team had argued against such coverage and cited his “extremely traumatized state of mind”.

Both prosecution and defence agreed Oscar Pistorius could remain in custody at a police station and not in prison.

Members of Oscar Pistorius’s family, including sister Aimee, brother Carl and father Henke, were in the courtroom.

His brother and father, sitting behind the athlete, reached forward to touch his shoulder during the proceedings.

Oscar Pistorius had earlier arrived at court in the back of a police vehicle, hiding his face with a jacket and notebook.

Forensic scientists are expected to continue examining the house in the Silver Lakes area on the outskirts of South Africa’s administrative capital where Reeva Steenkamp died.

Correspondents say the athlete’s arrest has stunned the country where he is considered a national hero.

Oscar Pistorius is known as “blade runner” because of the carbon fibre prosthetic blades he races in. He was born without a fibula in both legs and had his legs amputated below the knee before his first birthday.

Police were called to his home in the early hours of Thursday morning.

They found paramedics treating a 29-year-old woman with four gunshot wounds to the head and upper body. She died at the scene, and officers recovered a 9mm pistol.

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Friday but the results would not be made public, police said.

Reeva Steenkamp’s body is due to be flown home to Port Elizabeth for a memorial service next Tuesday, South African media report – the same day that Oscar Pistorius is next expected in court.

They had reportedly been dating since November.

Model Reeva Steenkamp was already well known in South Africa but was seen as being on the verge of a new career, with her appearance in a pre-recorded reality TV show set to start on Saturday.

The producers of Tropika Island of Treasure said they were going ahead with the programme, filmed in Jamaica, after “much deliberation“.

“Every episode that she is in, every frame that she so ably dominates – shines with her light and her laughter echoes in every conversation, and we want to share these special memories with the rest of South Africa,” the programme said.

Meanwhile, world athletics figures spoke of their shock at what had happened.

His training partner, UK 400 m runner Martyn Rooney, released a statement saying his “thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those involved”.

“I’ve not heard what he has to say. I wouldn’t want to be in his situation, but I hope that, at the end of it all, justice will prevail,” said Jamaica’s Olympic women’s 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Oscar Pistorius dominated in his category at successive Paralympic Games, but in 2008 he won a legal battle over his blades – which critics said gave him an unfair advantage – with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for the right to compete in able-bodied competitions.

He reached the 40 0m semi-finals in the London 2012 Olympics. At the Paralympics he won silver in the T44 200 m, gold in the 4×100 m relay and gold in the T44 400 m, setting a Paralympic record.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of crime in the world and many residents keep weapons to protect themselves against intruders.

But gun ownership is strictly regulated and it is not easy to obtain a licence.

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By posing for the Louis Vuitton campaign, U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps may be stripped of his medals, four gold and two silver, from the London 2012 Games.

The latest Louis Vuitton campaign images, which included Michael Phelps, surfaced on Twitter on August 13, 2012.

According to Rule 40, a regulation introduced by the International Olympic Committee earlier this year, no athlete was able to participate in non-Olympic marketing campaigns from July 18 to August 15, 2012.

If the photographs were in fact due for release on August 16 and a rogue individual had simply leaked them, Michael Phelps will be in the clear. But if the photos were in fact leaked intentionally by the brand, the sporting hero will face punishment.

The French fashion house said after the two photos, snapped by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, had leaked that they were in fact unofficial images and were stolen from the company.

Michael Phelps’ management team have also denied releasing the images.

The official IOC rule states: “A competitor or a team may lose the benefit of any ranking obtained in relation to other events at the Olympic Games at which he or it was disqualified or excluded; in such case the medals and diplomas won by him or it shall be returned to the IOC.”

By posing for the Louis Vuitton campaign, Michael Phelps may be stripped of his London Olympics medals

By posing for the Louis Vuitton campaign, Michael Phelps may be stripped of his London Olympics medals

Two photographs of the athlete were posted on various websites on August 13.

One showed Michael Phelps posing in a bathtub as the brand’s signature bag sat slumped on the floor beside him while another showed him on a couch, sharing a laugh with former Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina, 77.

As a less severe punishment, Michael Phelps may also simply be fined if he is found to have breached Rule 40.

According to Sekou Campbell, an intellectual property attorney at Fox Rothschild who has written about Rule 40, if the photos were leaked intentionally, it is likely a violation of the IOC regulation designed to combat ambush marketing.

“That’s the point of ambush marketing,” he told CNBC.

“There’s no formal ad, but they somehow generate coverage.”

Michael Phelps’ long-time agent, Peter Carlisle, dismissed any suggestion Friday that the retired swimmer may have violated Rule 40.

Peter Carlisle told The Associated Press there’s no issue with the IOC because Michael Phelps did not authorize use of the pictures, which were leaked by a source that still isn’t known and appeared on several websites. In fact, the agent added, there are dozens of similar, unapproved uses of most top athletes’ names and images during any Olympics.

“He didn’t violate Rule 40; it’s as simple as that,” Peter Carlisle said in a telephone interview.

“All that matters is whether the athlete permitted that use. That’s all he can control. In this case, Michael did not authorize that use.

“The images hadn’t even been reviewed, much less approved. It’s as simple as that. An athlete can’t control unauthorized uses any more than you can guarantee someone isn’t going to break into your house.”

“I can’t count on every hand in this office the number of unauthorized uses that happen during the Games period,” Peter Carlisle added.

“We uncover them by the dozens. Some are by companies we don’t even know. It happens constantly.”

No matter the outcome, the star has followed in the footsteps of Sean Connery and Catherine Deneuve, posing with the French label’s famous monogrammed bags in the couch image.

The caption beneath, which is written in Italian, bears the words: “Due percorsi straordinari. Uno stesso destino”, which translates as: “Two extraordinary paths. The same fate.”

The new Core Values campaign image was released at the same time as the bath image, in which Michael Phelps is seen wearing trunks and goggles in a bath, with an LV-monogrammed bag beside the tub.

Though it is designed to look like it too is for Louis Vuitton, the luxury label said: “It is not an official Louis Vuitton image.”

The official new advertisement is the latest in an ongoing series titled Core Values.

The campaign has also featured images of Francis Ford Coppola with his daughter Sofia, Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards and even Mikhail Gorbachev.

 

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Ashley Gill-Webb has been charged with a public order offence after a bottle was thrown at the start of the men’s Olympic 100 metres final on Sunday night.

Ashley Gill-Webb, 34, from South Milford, near Leeds, will appear in custody at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on Monday afternoon.

A police spokesman said he was charged with intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress under section 5 of the Public Order Act.

Ashley Gill-Webb, who is reportedly a father-of-two and a member of a local football team in South Milford, was arrested after the incident last night at the Olympic Stadium.

Dutch world judo champion Edith Bosch intervened after the incident.

She was standing close by when a green plastic drink bottle was thrown from the stands behind the start line.

Ashley Gill-Webb has been charged with a public order offence after a bottle was thrown at the start of the men's Olympic 100 metres final on Sunday night

Ashley Gill-Webb has been charged with a public order offence after a bottle was thrown at the start of the men's Olympic 100 metres final on Sunday night

Edith Bosch told Dutch television station NOS TV: “I had seen the man walking around earlier and said to people around me that he was a peculiar bloke.

“Then he threw that bottle and in my emotion I hit him on the back with the flat of my hand.

“Then he was scooped up by the security. However, he did make me miss the final, and I am very sad about that.

“I just cannot understand how someone can do something like that.”

Edith Bosch’s involvement was brought to public attention on Twitter, where she wrote: “A drunken spectator threw a bottle onto the track! I HAVE BEATEN HIM… unbelievable.”

LOCOG chairman Lord Sebastian Coe said it was “poetic justice” that the man happened to be sitting next to the Dutch judo star.

He said: “I’m not suggesting vigilantism but it was actually poetic justice that they happened to be sitting next to a judo player.”

He added: “Throwing a bottle on to the field of play is unacceptable. It’s not just unacceptable at an Olympic Games but at any sporting event and anybody who does that will be removed.

“There is zero tolerance for anything like that.”

A man had been heard shouting abuse before the bottle was thrown just as the runners were lined up in the starting blocks.

Speaking after the race, US sprinter Justin Gatlin, who won bronze, said: “It was a little distraction and I didn’t know what it was.

“But when you’re in those blocks and the whole stadium’s quiet you can hear a pin drop.”

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who won the race, said he had been unaware of the incident.

He said: “No, I keep hearing that. I don’t know who would have done that.”

Fellow Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake said: “I was so focused I didn’t see anything. I was so focused on just running to the line.”

Justin Gatlin said the incident had not affected the race: “You just have to block it out and go out there and do what you got to do.

“You can’t complain about that, the race went on and it was a great race.”

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Reuters photographer Luke MacGregor’s perfectly timed snap captured the full moon forming a sixth ring in the Olympic display on London’s Tower Bridge.

The masterpiece quickly made the rounds online, with “Tower Bridge” becoming a top trending item on Twitter.

The perfectly aligned composition graced London’s skyline Friday night, on the bridge over the River Thames.

Reuters photographer Luke MacGregor’s perfectly timed snap captured the full moon forming a sixth ring in the Olympic display on London's Tower Bridge

Reuters photographer Luke MacGregor’s perfectly timed snap captured the full moon forming a sixth ring in the Olympic display on London's Tower Bridge

Many praised the magnificent picture on Twitter, calling it “epic” and a “must see”.

But others couldn’t resist joking about the unsanctioned modification by nature of the logo, after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) went to painstaking efforts to prevent the unlicensed use of its brand by local retailers.

“Moon taken to court by IOC for violating Olympic brand ban,” one Twitter user quipped.

The official Twitter account for the IOC did not tweet in response to the lunar insertion into the organization’s trademarked logo.

The five interlocking rings represent the five parts of the world involved in the global games.

The symbol was designed in 1912 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games.

 

Twitter is facing a user backlash after suspending the account of journalist Guy Adams, who had criticized NBC Universal’s coverage of the Olympic Games.

NBC Universal had complained that Independent newspaper correspondent Guy Adams had posted the email address of one of its executives.

But Guy Adams has alleged the complaint was only made after Twitter had alerted NBC to his message.

Twitter said it “does not actively monitor users’ accounts”.

However, the social network refused to discuss Guy Adams’s case, saying “it was company policy not to comment on individual users” for privacy reasons.

Twitter formed a partnership with NBC ahead of the Games to create a page highlighting messages from NBC personalities, athletes and fans during the event.

The broadcaster paid $1.18 billion for the US broadcast rights to the Olympics.

Twitter is facing a user backlash after suspending the account of journalist Guy Adams, who had criticized NBC Universal's coverage of the Olympic Games

Twitter is facing a user backlash after suspending the account of journalist Guy Adams, who had criticized NBC Universal's coverage of the Olympic Games

Several users have retweeted the executive’s email address in protest at the suspension.

Guy Adams – who is based Los Angeles – posted a message last Friday criticizing NBC’s decision to broadcast the Games’ opening ceremony with a time-delay in order to target a prime-time audience.

On the US’s east coast it was shown with a three-and-a-half hours delay, on the west coast the gap was up to six-and-a-half hours.

This caused problems for users who enjoy swapping comments about major events on social network sites.

“The man responsible for NBC pretending the Olympics haven’t started yet is Gary Zenkel. Tell him what u think,” Guy Adams tweeted, referring to NBC’s Olympics president.

He also included Gary Zenkel’s business email address in the message.

Guy Adams said when he checked his account on Sunday he had received a message saying it had been suspended.

NBC Sports subsequently released a statement confirming it had called for the action.

“We filed a complaint with Twitter because a user tweeted the personal information of one of our executives,” it said.

“According to Twitter, this is a violation of their privacy policy. Twitter alone levies discipline.”

Guy Adams then published an article saying a Daily Telegraph journalist had forwarded him an email from NBC.

He quoted an NBC spokesman as saying: “Our social media department was actually alerted to it by Twitter and then we filled out the form and submitted it.”

Twitter’s terms and conditions say posting another person’s private and confidential information, including “non-public, personal email addresses” is a violation of its rules.

But Guy Adams said he had done nothing wrong, as the address he had used was a corporate one based on the same system used by NBC’s other employees and could easily be worked out by “anyone in possession of 30 seconds of free time and access to Google”.

Many Twitter users have come out in support of Guy Adams.

“Scandal that someone should be banned for voicing an opinion,” tweeted London-based Nicholas Pritchard.

“I think Twitter’s suspension of Guy Adams’ account hurts its own brand. A lot,” posted George Maschke from the Netherlands.

Among the critics were others involved in the media industry.

“Twitter’s suspension of @guyadams jars with company’s claim to be the free speech wing of the free speech party,” wrote the Guardian‘s special projects editor Paul Lewis.

“I wouldn’t have posted the email address. But Twitter’s removing his account was outrageous,” added Dan Gillmor, from the Arizona State University’s school of journalism.

Several users posted internet links to websites that had previously published Gary Zenkel’s contact details. Some also reposted the executive’s email address to Twitter.

NBC has highlighted that a record 40.7 million people watched its coverage of the opening ceremony, saying it was “a great early sign that our strategy of driving people to watch NBC in prime-time is working”.

 

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Duran Duran, Snow Patrol, Stereophonics and Paolo Nutini are celebrating the start of London Olympic Games at a special concert in Hyde Park this evening.

The show coincides with the opening ceremony, which will be shown on big screens in the park.

Scottish singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini took to the stage to loud cheers to open the show in front of 50,000 fans.

Each of the four acts on the bill was selected to represent the different countries of the UK.

Snow Patrol, representing Northern Ireland, will close the London concert.

Best known for hits such as Chasing Cars and Run, the band said the event was “really special.”

“It’s the only thing I’ll ever represent Northern Ireland at,” said frontman Gary Lightbody.

“My 100 metre sprinting days are long past me.”

“We were asked to represent our country, we’re never going to say no to that,” he added.

“The world is looking in on our nations and you’ve got to stand up for that.”

Duran Duran, Snow Patrol, Stereophonics and Paolo Nutini are celebrating the start of London Olympic Games at a special concert in Hyde Park this evening

Duran Duran, Snow Patrol, Stereophonics and Paolo Nutini are celebrating the start of London Olympic Games at a special concert in Hyde Park this evening

Fellow headline act Duran Duran will perform second on the bill, representing England.

John Taylor from the band said: “We feel very English. But we feel British too, so we’re in the right place.”

Singer Simon Le Bon said it was “the biggest show we’ve ever played in London town”, and added: “It’s amazing out there.”

Bandmate Nick Rhodes said: “It’s the last day of the European tour and it’s the first day of the Olympics. What more could you ask for?”

Paolo Nutini, who performed hits such as Jenny Don’t Be Hasty, said it was “an honour” to be involved.

“To go fly the flag for your country makes it even sweeter,” he added.

Welsh rockers Stereophonics played four small warm-up shows around the UK this week in preparation for their set, following the big screen coverage of the opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the crowd of around 80,000 in the Olympic Stadium will include Queen Elizabeth II and a host of dignitaries and celebrities.

Masterminded by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle, the £27 million ($43 million) extravaganza features a cast of 15,000 volunteers and is said to be a quirky take on British life.

Westminster Council has extended Hyde Park’s curfew until 01:00 BST for what they called an “exceptional evening”, which is timed to run around the opening ceremony.

Earlier this month organizers of a Bruce Springsteen concert pulled the plug on the power when his show over-ran.

Westminster Council has confirmed that the gig to coincide with the closing ceremony on 12 August, headlined by Blur, will also have the same curfew.

 

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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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”.

 

The biggest McDonald’s restaurant on the planet has been built in London, right in the middle of the Olympic park.

The vast two-storey restaurant will serve up to 1,200 customers an hour and sell $5 million of fast food during Olympic Games.

At 3,000 sq ft the building, next to the Olympic Stadium, is bigger than the current largest McDonald’s, in Moscow.

The Russian restaurant will regain its title on September 9, however, when the London branch is bulldozed after the Paralympics closing ceremony.

Yesterday McDonald’s gave the media a preview of its flagship store, which includes 20 till points and 1,500 seats.

It is one of four branches in the park, including two open to the public, one for the athletes and officials in the Olympic Village and one at the press centre.

Altogether they will serve 1.75 million meals in 29 days, with Britons accounting for an estimated 85% of customers.

The biggest McDonald’s restaurant on the planet has been built in London, right in the middle of the Olympic park

The biggest McDonald’s restaurant on the planet has been built in London, right in the middle of the Olympic park

The main restaurant will offer some of the best views across the Olympic Park from its first-floor balcony, which can seat 150 customers.

It will be staffed by 500 of its top-performing employees from 85,000 in the UK, with 200 on a shift at any one time.

The global sponsor has been linked to the Olympics since 1968, when the company airlifted hamburgers to US athletes in Grenoble, France, after it was reported they were missing McDonald’s food.

But McDonald’s has been criticized for promoting the consumption of fast food at a time when people should be celebrating sports participation and healthy living.

It is estimated one in ten meals eaten at Olympic Games venues will be from McDonald’s.

Last week, members of the London Assembly said firms which sold junk food should not be linked to the Olympic Games. Cadbury and Coca-Cola are also sponsors.

Jenny Jones, a Green Party assembly member, said: “London won the right to host the 2012 Games with the promise to deliver a legacy of more active, healthier children across the world.

“Yet the same International Olympic Committee that awarded the Games to London persists in maintaining sponsorship deals with the purveyors of high calorie junk that contributes to the threat of an obesity epidemic.

“The advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar is already restricted on children’s television.

“These Games will subvert those regulations by providing a glut of sponsored messages for high calorie food and drink that are at odds with the Olympian athletic ideal.”

The restaurant will be McDonald’s first sustainable outlet and 75% of the building and fittings will be recycled or reused.

It is part of London 2012’s bid to be “the greenest Games ever”.

While the restaurants serve fast food to the hungry public, McDonald’s executives will be enjoying some of the top events from their corporate seats.

Yesterday, the firm admitted that global chief executive Jim Skinner and UK chief executive Jill McDonald, along with dozens of others, will enjoy corporate tickets to events such as the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics and swimming.

The restaurant will start trading on July 28, one day after the opening ceremony.

It will not open for the ceremony itself, which many VIP guests and heads of state are expected to attend, for “security reasons”.