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The BBC has met with London Games Creative Dir Danny Boyle, who is leading the Opening Ceremony, to “head off any concerns over its commentary to accompany” the $42M show, according to John Plunkett of the London GUARDIAN. BBC’s Huw Edwards, who will anchor the ceremony, and BBC London '12 Olympics Dir Roger Mosey “outlined the corporation's plans" ahead of Friday's showpiece event. The soundtrack -- the subject of “almost as much speculation as the ceremony itself -- will be released as a digital download, Isles of Wonder, and viewers who want to watch it commentary-free will be able to do so on cable and satellite television.” Mosey said, "We are still impartial and the commentary is ours but ... the more you understand what Danny Boyle is trying to do, the more you can give an informed commentary" (GUARDIAN, 7/24). In London, Ian Burrell noted Edwards also “has held private talks” with Boyle. Edwards and Mosey met with Boyle last week to “explain the need to layer pieces of commentary over the music to give ‘context’ to less obvious elements of the spectacular," which is inspired by Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Mosey said, "The audience will need pointers to some of the things that are happening" (INDEPENDENT, 7/24).
MUSIC MAKES THE WORLD GO 'ROUND: In L.A., Todd Martens wrote music is “sure to play a pivotal role at the opening event.” This will be the "first time in Olympic history that music" from the Opening and Closing Ceremony will be digitally released. LOCOG also commissioned “five original songs for the Games, featuring selections from artists as diverse as rapper Dizzee Rascal and theatrical rockers Muse.” But the “two-week marriage of sport and music has not come without tension.” A “small but vocal group of artists have started an online petition against what they believe is a lack of proper compensation on the part of Olympic organizers” (L.A. TIMES, 7/24).
GUESTS OF HONOR? The GUARDIAN’s Owen Gibson reported former boxer Muhammad Ali and former England football captain David Beckham “appear increasingly likely to play a role in the Olympics opening ceremony, after flying into London four days before it takes place” (GUARDIAN, 7/24). In London, Paul Kelso noted LOCOG officials will consult with Ali's family "before finalising what role” he will play in Friday's Opening Ceremony (TELEGRAPH, 7/24).
SNEAK PEEK: The GUARDIAN’s Esther Addley reported Boyle “invited 60,000 people, around three-quarters of the stadium's capacity, to witness the first of two technical rehearsals.” The Olympic Stadium's “giant screens helpfully suggested a hashtag: #savethesurprise.” Boyle reportedly asked the audience to “not tweet pictures.” There was a “collective goodwill toward the enterprise, and what appeared to be general delight over the show's contents persuaded the majority to do no more than tease” (GUARDIAN, 7/24). The AP’s Jill Lawless asked, “The London Olympics Opening Ceremony will be a grand spectacle -- but will it be a surprise? In a word, no.” In the age of “camera phones and social media, with 10,000 performers in the ceremony, thousands of Olympic security and staff and more than 10,000 journalists already at the Olympic Park, not much can be kept out of the public domain” (AP, 7/23).
TRAFFIC CHECK: In London, Tom Peck wrote that one of London's “main Olympic transport routes failed its first major test ahead of the Games [Monday] when tens of thousands faced severe delays as they journeyed to the Olympic Stadium to watch a dress rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony.” As 60,000 people “filed out of the stadium, large parts of the Central line … were closed” (INDEPENDENT, 7/24). The GUARDIAN’s Peter Walker noted the rehearsal visitors praised the “efficiency of military personnel at checkpoints” (GUARDIAN, 7/24). The GUARDIAN's Gibson also reported that Transport Secretary Justine Greening claimed transport problems following Monday night's Opening Ceremony test were a "successful dress rehearsal" for Games-time travel. Greening said, "We got everybody home. It was a successful dress rehearsal. We look forward to delivering the real thing on Friday." London Commissioner for Transport Peter Hendy said while he was "sorry that two lines serving the Park went down" the problems proved there was enough "redundancy" in the system to cope (GUARDIAN, 7/24).
FINGERS CROSSED: Also in London, Blitz & Kortekaas reported that IOC Exec Dir Gilbert Felli said that "London will have to rely on luck to avoid serious transport problems" during the Games. Felli said, "We all cross our fingers." He added the organization had "done what they had to do." Felli: "Now we need to make sure we have a bit of luck" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/24).
CoSport, the biggest overseas agency for Olympic tickets, apologized after people were "forced to queue for more than six hours" to collect their allocations, according to Peter Walker of the London GUARDIAN. But the company said that "it could do nothing to help some of those whose seats are scattered around stadiums." On Tuesday, the queues "were still significant" with some buyers reporting around two hours of wait time. In a statement, CoSport, the official overseas ticketing partner of the U.S., Australia and Canada, said it apologized to those who were forced to wait and could "understand their frustration." A number of ticket buyers have complained that their CoSport-purchased seats were "distributed around venues, in some instances forcing parents to sit some distance from their children." The company issued a statement to apologize for this, but warned that this could "could not always be remedied." The statement read, "Within the allocation of tickets that we received, we strive to seat people together. Unfortunately this is not always possible, and our terms and conditions explain this" (GUARDIAN, 7/24).
AUSSIE MESS: In Sydney, Wayne Smith reported CoSport assured the Australian Olympic Committee that it will "sort out the mess." Australian Olympic team Chef de Mission Nick Green said that "it was not right that Australians who have purchased tickets were being made to wait lengthy periods to collect them." Green: "People queuing for tickets is unacceptable. We were disappointed when we heard about it." Green also added that the AOC was "looking into the matter and had been working closely with the company to ensure no Australians were disadvantaged." Finally, Green said, "They've assured us that all Australians will get their tickets" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/25).
PADDINGTON PICKUP: In London, Owen Gibson reported that CoSport said that around 500 of the 14,000 tickets it had sold to U.S. purchasers "had yet to be posted, and told buyers to travel to London without them and to pick them up from the Paddington office." The USOC gave CoSport the "exclusive contract to handle distribution of tickets and hospitality packages for the London Games." The company, "owned by the controversial Seattle millionaire Sead Dizdarevic," also sponsors the USOC until '20. Reports last week indicated that CoSport "was sending out tickets to members of the public that were originally intended for Games sponsors." Resellers outside of the U.K. are "allowed to charge a 20% premium on the face value of the tickets under IOC rules, but not on tickets meant for sponsors" (GUARDIAN, 7/24).
DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS: In London, Martyn Ziegler noted Games tickets were "at the centre of chaotic scenes on Monday as fans waited in the hot sun for up to six hours." A LOCOG spokesperson said, "They have had issues with the distribution of tickets, something has gone wrong with how they are allocated and distributed. We are aware of the problems and anyone who has been affected is advised to contact the CoSport call centre which has been set up in London." Ziegler noted, "Angry fans also posted messages on online Olympics forums criticising the agency" (TELEGRAPH, 7/24). The GLOBE & MAIL's Carys Mills noted, "No comment was immediately available from CoSport's Canadian office, which directs callers to a U.K. phone number, where the voicemail is full" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/24).
The IOC announced that revenue from "selling broadcasting rights for the Olympic Games between '14 and '16 is expected to top" $4B, and sponsorship revenues also is “on the rise,” according to Karolos Grohmann of REUTERS. IOC President Jacques Rogge said, "For the period 2014-16 we already have $3.6B, and it should reach and exceed $4B. TV rights totaled $2.2B for the period 2002-04." He added, "The financial situation is strong and safe. Since Dec. 31, 2001 our reserves have grown" from $105M to $558M, an increase of $453M. The IOC has also “seen a growth in revenues from sponsors" with its '13-16 TOP program, which is expected to generate $1B "for the first time." Rogge said that the ‘17-20 program has “already brought in" $722M with seven sponsors. The same program had been worth $663M for '01-04 (REUTERS, 7/24). The AP noted the IOC’s financial situation “remains solid despite the global economic crisis.” Still, the financial reserves are “actually down" from $592M reported at the previous IOC session a year ago. The decline is “likely due to fluctuations in currency exchange rates” (AP, 7/24).
READY OR NOT, HERE THEY COME! The AP’s Stephen Wilson noted the Royal Opera House last night held a “star-studded Olympic gala,” and London Mayor Boris Johnson “brought the house down with his bombastic recital -- in ancient Greek -- of a Pindaric Ode for the London Games.” Rogge said, "I am confident the games will capture the spirit of this great cosmopolitan city." LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said, "The city is ready. The venues are ready. Soon the athletes will be ready" (AP, 7/24).
STAYING TOGETHER: Rogge and International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven signed an agreement that ensures the Paralympic Games will be held in the same city as the Olympic Games through '20. The two presidents extended the current agreement that was signed in June '06, and was good through the '16 Games. The new agreement will be good through the '18 PyeongChang Winter Games and the '20 Summer Games to be held in either Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo (Paralympic Games).
CHEAP LABOR: In London, Simon Neville reported that Olympics merchandise is being produced "in sweatshop conditions" with staff earning as little as £6 ($9) a day, despite organizers "promising to clean up its supply chain." One of the factories investigated was the Xinda facility in the Guangdong district in southern China, "where 25 million plastic figures of Olympics mascots Wenlock and Mandeville were made for LOCOG." The report has been issued by Hong Kong workers' rights group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (GUARDIAN, 7/23).
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Jet Set gets handle on ticket lines after a difficult Monday
IOC generates a record $5 billion during last quadrennium
ESPN signs pan-regional sponsors for Latin Olympic telecasts
Omega opts for London-based store as opposed to sponsor pavilion
Heathrow takes on Olympian task this week with Games arrivals
Catching Up With Omega President Stephen Urquhart
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The London Games will host a further 1,200 military personnel to help secure the event, according to Booth & Hopkins of the London GUARDIAN. Extra personnel were deployed after G4S "failed to provide enough private security guards." The move comes amid "continuing fears that the private security contractor's handling of the £284M ($441M) contract remains a risk" to the Games as Friday's Opening Ceremony approaches. U.K. ministers "took the decision on Tuesday morning at a cabinet committee for the Olympics" chaired by PM David Cameron (GUARDIAN, 7/24). Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the decision to bring in more guards "does not reflect on G4S's performance in recent days, which has improved." Hunt added, "G4S numbers continue to rise significantly and we have every expectation that will continue to be the case. However, ministers decided that we should deploy the additional 1,200 troops that were put on standby last week" (BLOOMBERG, 7/24). LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said, "The reason that this decision has been taken is just to absolutely de-risk any aspect of the operation. With three days to go, we just want to make sure this works without any worries at all" (PA, 7/24). In London, Alice Speri noted G4S "will be replaced by local security companies at St. James Park in Newcastle" after failing to provide enough staff to guard Olympic football games there. The northeast England city will host some of the Olympic football matches and will provide 500 local and regional security staff, not by G4S. The Newcastle City Council said, "This function will now be delivered exclusively by people with a stake in the region and its reputation" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/24).
THE HOLE IS GETTING DEEPER: Also in London, Nick Hopkins wrote the credibility of G4S running the Olympics' security has been "called into further question by claims that scores of trainees are being allowed to 'cheat' their way through tests for the x-ray machines that detect homemade bombs and other weapons." A source reported that trainees who fail the test are being given "repeated opportunities to get the right answers to the same questions, and are also being allowed to confer with others during the exams under the noses of instructors" (GUARDIAN, 7/23). A G4S spokesperson said, "The candidates work through practice modules and the subsequent ‘test’ modules at their own pace on their own PC’s with trainers available should the candidates have any issues. We offer advice and guidance but do not direct candidates in how to dispose items. It is not uncommon or wrong to repeat modules" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/24).
A GOOD FEELING: REUTERS' Mike Collett-White wrote that despite all of the "grumbling by a notoriously critical media and Londoners braced for disruptions to their daily lives, the sense of excitement is palpable" at the London Games, along with the "sun shining brightly after weeks of rain." The early buzz from Monday evening's technical rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony at the main stadium of the Olympic Park "was positive, suggesting film-maker Danny Boyle's unusual, quirky and ambitious vision might just work." Britain's National Olympic Security Adviser Chris Allison said, "I'm very satisfied that we're in a very good place." Allison added, "We've done all the planning, we've looked at the way in which terrorists have attacked in the past and we try to make sure that none of those could get through our security measures" (REUTERS, 7/24).
Following continued criticism over Spain's Olympic uniforms, Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) President Alejandro Blanco said, "If someone doesn't like it then they don't have to wear it," according to the EFE. The comments came after Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB) President Jose Luis Saez called the design of the uniform "disastrous." Saez also called the attire an "abberation" and a "disaster." He wrote on Twitter: "The clothes does not even look good on Antonio Banderas ... and everything looks good on him." (EFE, 7/24).
MEDALISTS: ECODIARIO.es reported the COE revealed their prize money structure for the athletes who medal in the London Games. Gold medalists will be rewarded with €94,000 ($113,600), Silver will get €48,000 ($58,000) and Bronze €30,000 ($36,255). For the sports that are in pairs or groups "the quantity diminishes." Gold will be €75,000 ($90,638), Silver €37,000 ($44,715) and Bronze €25,000 ($30,213). For team sports such as football, basketball and handball, each player will get €50,000 ($60,425) for Gold, €29,000 ($35,047) for Silver and €18,000 ($21,753) for Bronze (ECODIARIO.es, 7/23).
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has "hinted" the Olympic Games could be broadcast on pay-per-view Sky TV in future. Hunt revealed that the government will "launch a review" into whether the Olympics should stay on free-to-air TV. The government recently ignored Labour's plans for a review of "listed events" – known as the "crown jewels of sport" and including the World Cup, the FA Cup final and the Olympics. However, Hunt said that he will revisit the issue "after the digital switchover," which concludes later this year. The BBC has been awarded the rights to broadcast the Olympics until '20, but Sky "would be able to bid for subsequent Games if the status of the Games changes" (London INDEPENDENT, 7/24).
NOT FROM THESE PARTS: In London, Charles Sale noted Canadian Gary Hall will be sharing the in-venue commentary with Britain’s Geoff Wightman, an experienced Diamond League broadcaster, after their appointment by Int'l Association of Athletics Federations VP Bob Hersh. This has caused "considerable ructions" between the IAAF and LOCOG, "who understandably wanted two British voices to explain the athletics action." However, despite LOCOG’s appeals to the IAAF, backed up by other sports federations, Hersh "would not budge from his decision." An athletics insider said, "There have been a lot of tense discussions about the stadium commentary. A North American accent is going to sound very strange in a Stratford Olympic Stadium, especially when there are so many British commentators who could do the job" (DAILY MAIL, 7/23).
EARLY RECORD SETTING: The London TELEGRAPH reported Big Ben will chime more than 40 times between 8:12am and 8:15am GMT Friday as part of the London 2012 Festival. It has been arranged by Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed, for his "Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes." Creed "aims to set a world record for the most number of bells rung simultaneously" (TELEGRAPH, 7/24).