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SBD/July 19, 2012/OlympicsPrint All
The U.K. Parliament's Commons Public Accounts Committee in a published report yesterday said that there "was 'no credible explanation' for the sharp increase in fees" in security firm G4S's contract to provide Olympic venue guards, according to Hopkins, Gibson & Syal of the GUARDIAN. One member of Parliament sarcastically said, "The first winner of an Olympic gold is G4S.” G4S agreed in December to provide 10,000 guards for the venues, rather than the 2,000 originally asked for, "increasing the value of the contract by almost" $312.7M (all figures U.S.) to $444M. This included $129.8M to “cover labour, and a 12-fold increase in management costs,” from $15.6M to $195.4M. G4S also “secured a 22-fold increase to cover uniforms,” from $4.7M to $101.6M. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said, “We will go after them for the money to make sure that they help pay for the military personnel that have been brought in.” U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said that the government was also “looking at reducing G4S's management fee by invoking penalty clauses” (GUARDIAN, 7/19).
LOCOG SHOULD ALSO BE BLAMED? A FINANCIAL TIMES editorial opines that LOCOG's role in the G4S issue shouldn't be overlooked, stating, “In many ways, LOCOG has done a commendable job in the way it has pulled together the games. But the security fiasco has been a serious blot on its copybook. It should have stepped in sooner, when it was becoming clear that G4S was struggling to fulfil its contract to supply the guards.” The editorial also questions LOCOG's structure, as there may have been "good reasons to make LOCOG a private company, even though it was part of a largely taxpaper-funded project,” but this “shielded it from oversight and prevented transparency about its operations” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/19).
NO-SHOWS: Despite the deployment of an additional 3,500 British soldiers and London police yesterday were “forced to guard the Olympic venue at Lord's cricket ground because G4S guards failed to show up” (GUARDIAN, 7/18).
STRIKING OUT: Cameron “condemned a planned strike by border staff that is threatening to disrupt travel arrangements for the Olympics.” Cameron said that he “hoped the strike would not go ahead but insisted the Olympics would be safe and secure regardless” (GUARDIAN, 7/19)....A "further bus strike during the Olympics was averted after workers voted to accept a bonus payment” for full-time employees (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 7/18).
NO WATER? LOCOG “denied there was any ongoing issue with the water in the Olympic Village, after the supply to cafes in the communal area was interrupted.” The cafe in the shopping area of the village “unexpectedly shut its doors for several hours after problems with the water supply” (GUARDIAN, 7/19).
AND OVERALL? In London, Richard Alleyne writes under the header, “Another Difficult Day On The Roads And Rail As Olympics Approach: Traffic Problems Continued To Dog The Capital In The Run Up To The Olympics” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/19). In Miami, Michelle Kauffman writes the Opening Ceremony is “eight days away, and can’t get here soon enough.” Then, "and only then, will we stop reading about how awful things are going to be.” The “hand-wringing is getting tiresome” (MIAMI HERALD, 7/19).
Relations between London Games Creative Dir Danny Boyle and the Olympic Broadcasting Services Crew (OBS) are “now so strained that an extra ring of security had been put around Boyle's trailer within the Olympic stadium,” according to a source cited by Hopkins & Gibson of the GUARDIAN. Rehearsals for the Opening Ceremony are “being hampered by friction” between Boyle’s crew and OBS, which “will produce thousands of hours of live sports coverage from Olympic venues.” The source said, "You cannot describe the atmosphere. It is miserable.” The source added, "Danny wanted to bring in an English crew because he didn't want a sports crew filming the opening ceremony. He wanted to give it a 'light entertainment' feel, not a sports feel. At the moment he can't get the shots he wants.” OBS remains in “overall control of camera locations within the main stadium and all others” around the U.K. (GUARDIAN, 7/19).
The mood "of the British tweeting public during the Olympics and Paralympics will dictate what colour the London Eye turns every evening at 9pm, in the world's first social media driven light show,” according to Emma Barnett of the London TELEGRAPH. A group of MIT graduates and Univ. of Wolverhampton professor Mike Thelwall, who is “an expert in social media linguistic analysis, have been tracking all UK-based Olympic-related tweets for the last couple of months.” Thelwall and the graduates, who "run an art and technology company called Sosolimited, have been commissioned to develop an intuitive algorithm to track the sentiment of British tweeters about the Olympics by EDF Energy, the official electricity supplier" of the London Games. The team will "create the ‘world’s first social media driven light show,’ called ‘Energy of the Nation’ on the London Eye (which EDF sponsor).” From tonight onwards at 9:00pm London time, there "will be a 30 minute light show projected onto the London Eye.” It will happen “at the same time every single evening leading up to and during the Olympics and Paralympics.” The algorithm “splits the tweets into positive and negative conversations and filters them through a programme, which systematically converts them into a lightshow.” The colors of the lights “will be dictated in real time by the mood of the people tweeting about the Olympics.” If the overall sentiment is negative, the London Eye "will glow purple.” If it is positive, it “will shine yellow and if the Twitter reaction to the Games is neutral, the wheel will emit green rays” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/19).