SBD/August 14, 2012/Olympics

Olympic Notes: Paralympics See Ticket Surge In London

The FINANCIAL TIMES' Kortekaas, Warrell & Jacobs report the Paralympics are “set to be the first sell-out in the event’s 52-year history as Britons scramble for another chance to experience London’s Olympic summer.” Organizers reported a “surge in ticket sales for the event, which starts on August 29, on the back of huge public enthusiasm for the Olympics.” About 2.1 million Paralympic tickets “have been sold so far -- beating the 1.8m total for the 2008 Beijing games -- including more half a million in the past month.” A further “400,000 tickets are being released this week, amid a rush of interest from people who missed out on the Olympics and others desperate for a second dose of games action” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/14). In London, Gordan Rayner notes the Paralympics have “proved just as maddening for sports fans as trying to buy Olympic tickets thanks to a glitch in the official ticketing website.” Thousands of people who “logged on to the website” tried to buy advertised tickets “only to be told after inputting their payment details that the tickets were no longer available” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/14).

STEPPING UP? In Hong Kong, Peter Simpson wrote LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe "has been the face of the Games." His singular vision and determination to inspire millions around the world "has been branded into our conscience." It should not be surprising then that Coe is being "touted for the top IOC job." With IOC President Jacques Rogge’s term to end next year, Coe may not have enough backing to be "a natural shoo-in." However, it would be wise not to rule him out of the IOC race. For Coe, the end of the London Games might just be the "start of the home straight and a winning sprint to Lausanne" (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 8/13). The GUARDIAN’s Gibson wrote Coe is “likely to have already planned his next move with precision.” And he will “do so from a position of strength, surfing a level of public approval he has not known since his track days.” Gibson: “No other Olympic Games has been so umbilically linked with one man” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 8/13).

RAISING THE FLAG: The Olympic flag yesterday “touched down on Brazilian soil, marking the start of four years of preparations ahead of the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.” Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes called it an "important moment" for the city and for Brazil at large. But a “handful of demonstrators gathered outside the airport to protest against expulsions connected with Olympic projects and others tied to the 2014 soccer World Cup, which Brazil is also hosting” (AP, 8/14). Meanwhile, CBS’ Bob Schueffer noted there is "already unhappiness there about the preparations” for the '16 Games. , CBS’ Seth Doane said of the 6.5 million people "who live in Rio, it’s estimated around 20% live in favelas, or slums." Rio de Janeiro Municipal Housing Secretary Jorge Bittar “insists that the government-funded housing” that will house people whose homes are demolished prior to the Games “is a long-planned effort to revitalize these slums.” Bittar denied people were being relocated because of the Olympics. But Doane noted the “glossy materials they handed to us showcase the new housing under the headlines ‘Olympic Legacy’ and ‘Rio 2016’” ("Evening News,” CBS, 8/13).

TOURISM COUNTS: London trade group UKinbound announced the Olympics “brought less tourist money to recession-hit Britain than businesses had hoped for … with a majority of tourist companies reporting losses from last year.” UKinbound said that a “survey of more than 250 tour operators, hoteliers and visitor attractions found that tourist traffic fell all over Britain, not just London.” The business reported that visitor numbers “were down by 10 to 30 percent compared to last year” (AP, 8/13).
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