SBD/August 2, 2012/Olympics

London Mayor Boris Johnson Left Hanging On Inaugural Ride Down Victoria Park Zip Line

Johnson waved flags and led cheers while stuck on the zip line mid-air
London Mayor Boris Johnson yesterday was "left dangling inelegantly in front of a watching crowd" after he took the inaugural ride on the zip line in Victoria Park, according to Hannah Furness of the London TELEGRAPH. Johnson donned a "hard hat and two Union flags as he attempted to sail down" the zip line, but he "ground steadily to a halt on the wire." He spent "around five minutes hanging comically from the drooping line." Eyewitnesses said that he "spent the intervening minutes waving his flags and leading the audience in cheering on British gold medal-winning rowers" (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 8/1). As onlookers took pictures, Johnson joked, "This is great fun but it needs to go faster." A Johnson spokesperson said, "The mayor has survived his first zip wire experience relatively unscathed. Clearly the judges are likely to have marked the mayor down for artistic impression, and unlike team GB, the mayor may not be winning too many Gold medals today" (BBC.co.uk, 8/1). The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Helen Warrell wrote it was “clear that this was not a stunt that any other politician would have attempted” (FT.com, 8/1). The AP’s Sylvia Hui writes some are calling Johnson stuck on the zip wire “the best moment at the Olympics so far” (AP, 8/2). CNBC’s Kelly Evans said, “If anyone has won the Olympics, I would say it’s Boris Johnson” (“Worldwide Exchange,” CNBC, 8/2). ABC News' Bill Weir said, "This makes Michael Dukakis in the tank look like Patton, but somehow Boris pulls it off as a politician” (“GMA,” ABC, 8/2). Fox Business' Liz Claman said Johnson is the "unofficial mascot" of the Games. Johnson: "It’s all going horribly right. So far -- touch wood -- without being complacent, we do think we’re having a very good Games so far. It’s incredibly enjoyable" ("Countdown to the Closing Bell," Fox Business, 8/1).

COME ON DOWN! In London, Oliver Wright noted Johnson was “in the park to promote free Olympic events -- some of which had been suffering from people’s reluctance to travel during the games.” Yesterday he “played down suggestions that his warnings over transport chaos had prompted an Olympics-related mini recession in the capital.” Johnson insisted that businesses “which had engaged with the Games were prospering.” Johnson: “What's happening is people are having a great time and those who are looking to engage with the Games are doing great business” (INDEPENDENT.co.uk, 8/1). LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton was asked about reports of the Games negatively impacting business in parts of London and said, "In a very, very short term, day vs. day, there will be some changes in the (economic) pattern. But long term, given the images of London that are being sent around the world, from the Opening Ceremony, from the torch relay, from these events, it will be a huge economic boost to the capital" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/2).

BORIS AND RUPERT: Johnson “defended his decision to invite” News Corp. Chair & CEO Rupert Murdoch “to watch Olympic swimming events Friday, describing Murdoch as an important sponsor of sports.” News Corp. is the subject of “a long-running U.K. police and parliamentary investigation into phone-tapping by journalists at its publications, chiefly the defunct News of the World tabloid.” But Johnson yesterday said that “no one had proven that Murdoch did anything wrong and he would be poolside at the Olympic swimming finals” (AP, 8/2).

GETTING IN HIS CHOPS: The AP’s David Stringer reports U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is planning to take Russian President Vladimir Putin “to the Olympics to see matches in the Russian leader's beloved judo competition.” Putin is an “honorary president of the International Judo Federation” (AP, 8/2). Meanwhile, in a special to the LONDON TIMES, United Civil Front Founder & Chair Garry Kasparov, a former chess world champion, writes of Putin's presence and his role in the Sochi '14 Games, “It is high time that the Olympic movement embraced human ideals and ended its marathon romance with dictators” (LONDON TIMES, 8/2).

PRESIDENTIAL SHOUTOUT: In DC, David Nakamura noted President Obama yesterday called the five members of the women’s gymnastics team "to congratulate them for ‘bringing home the gold’ Tuesday night.” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that Obama “spoke to Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross and Gabby Douglas, in that order ... giving each a personal message.” Obama also called swimmer Michael Phelps after becoming the most-decorated Olympian ever. Obama said, "The greatest Olympian ever! We couldn’t be prouder.” Obama yesterday also "made sure to give a shout out to several Ohio-bred athletes who are competing in the Olympics and the Paralympics” during a campaign stop in Mansfield, Ohio. He noted that Abby Johnston “from Upper Arlington won a silver medal in diving, and mentioned Army Specialist Justin Lester of Akron, who is on the U.S. wrestling team” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/1).
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