SBD/May 15, 2012/Olympics

Olympic Notes: London Mayor Casts Doubt On Olympic Stadium Legacy Plans

Johnson said London needs to "be realistic" about future plans for the stadium
The FINANCIAL TIMES' Roger Blitz noted London Mayor Boris Johnson has “cast doubt on the legacy plans for the Olympic stadium, saying a decision on its future use is now unlikely to be made until after the London 2012 games.” Johnson said that “plans to announce which tenants had won the government-led tender to take up residence in the stadium have slipped.” English soccer club West Ham United is “in the running to become the anchor tenant.” Johnson said of the timetable to find a tenant, “We have got to be realistic about that. I wouldn’t hold your breath” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/15). Olympic Park Legacy CEO Andrew Altman in an e-mail said, “The fundamentals have not changed and it remains our intention to sign construction contracts for converting the stadium at the end of October, with the intention of re-opening in 2014 as previously announced. This is a significant public asset and a 99-year lease, and it is right that we take the time now to get the best possible outcome for the stadium” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 5/14).

BIG SIGH OF RELIEF: In London, Nick Pearce wrote LOCOG was “left breathing a huge sigh of relief after its much-maligned ticketing system handled the challenge posed to it by a maximum of 20,000 eligible applicants logging on for the third round of sales on Friday morning.” The Olympics website has “repeatedly failed under the stress of high demand and with 928,000 of the most highly-prized tickets up for grabs, including those to the men’s 100 metre final and the opening ceremony, there were fears it would once again succumb to the pressures of above-average web traffic.” But the exclusive 31-hour window, open “only to those who failed to secure tickets in either of the two previous public sales rounds, began with relatively few complaints and a number of success stories.” Users had “largely positive accounts of their experience, suggesting goodwill towards LOCOG and its ticketing process is beginning to return, reward for their decision to prioritise those without tickets” (London TELEGRAPH, 5/12). A LOCOG spokesperson said that the website “was holding up well on Sunday morning, with a wait of around 10 minutes to process applications.” The GUARDIAN’s Owen Gibson noted the ticket sale process “will continue until Thursday, with several different sports on offer each day, and any left over will go on general sale” on May 23 (GUARDIAN, 5/14).

MOMENT OF SILENCE? The GUARDIAN’s Harriet Sherwood reports the IOC “has rejected an Israeli call for a minute's silence at the London Games to mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich terrorist attack in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed.” IOC President Jacques Rogge in a letter yesterday “ignored a specific request for a minute's silence, saying only that he would attend a commemoration of the 1972 attack at London's Guildhall and that the IOC would be represented at any event organised by Israel.” Rogge wrote, "The IOC has officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions." The request “was sent last month by the Israeli deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon.” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor called the IOC’s response "a polite but very clear rejection" (GUARDIAN, 5/15).

A PRETTY PENNY: In London, Jacquelin Magnay noted the “twisting red tower, situated next to the Olympic Stadium by the entrance of the Park, was declared officially complete on Friday.” But artist Anish Kapoor, who designed the sculpture in conjunction with structural designer Cecil Balmond, said the US$24 entry fee during Games-time was a "lot of money for people." LOCOG officials said that “they shared his concerns and would be doing all they could to get the price down after the Games.” LOCOG Deputy Chair Keith Mills said that the group “made a decision to not use the Orbit as a hospitality centre as they wanted the public to be able to have access.” Mills: "To have taken this for the corporates would have been wrong. We did look at it as a hospitality venue but we believe this is a very special place and we wanted as many people as possible to be able to enjoy it.” Mills said the $24 price is "what it costs us to operate it.” Mills: “We set the price to offset that cost" (London TELEGRAPH, 5/12).
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