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SBD Global/July 26, 2012/Olympics

Many Athletes Say They Won't Attend Opening Ceremony Because Of Late Start

The Olympic Stadium is seen from the air as preparations are made for Friday's Opening Ceremony.
Britain's swimmers have confirmed that they will "join Team GB's athletes, track cyclists and rowers in missing Friday night's Opening Ceremony" at the Olympic Stadium in east London, according to Booth & Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Team GB previously estimated around half of the 541-member team would not attend because of the late starting time for the ceremony. Athletes such as Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Mo Farah "will not parade at the climax of the Danny Boyle-directed extravaganza" that is expected to be watched by more than 1 billion people around the world. James Goddard, who will compete against Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the 200m individual medley, said that the 44 swimmers decided against attending after a meeting with National Performance Dir Michael Scott and other team staff "because performance comes first." The plan is that the British team will enter the stadium last around midnight, which was a "factor in the decision." Goddard said, "It's a long day. There's a lot of walking involved, a party atmosphere I suppose, especially with it being the next day we need to stay relaxed and focused on our race." World 10km open water champion Keri-Anne Payne also will not attend, despite not even competing until Aug. 9. LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe has "encouraged athletes to attend." He pointed to the proximity of the Olympic Village and that the athletes "do not have to stay late if they do not want to." Team GB is "not alone in sending a depleted contingent" to the Opening Ceremony. It is "estimated that only half the 410-strong Australia team will turn out" (GUARDIAN, 7/25).

NO NEED TO SHOUT: Also in London, Oliver Pickup wrote with just two days until the Opening Ceremony, the BBC's Dir of London 2012 Roger Mosey has insisted he maintains a "great relationship" with Boyle and added that there had been no rows. Speculation "has been rife that the Slumdog Millionaire film director is fuming over the corporation's suggestion that there should be television commentary over the course of the £27M ($41.9M) extravaganza." It is thought Boyle is "worried that the constant talking will disrupt the viewers' experience," so he has demanded that the BBC refrain from voice-overs while filming the ceremony. BBC presenter Huw Edwards, who will perform most of the commentary, "held private discussions" with Boyle in hopes of "smoothing over the issues" around the show, named "Isles of Wonder." The BBC -- who has hinted that there may be a “no commentary” option for cable and satellite viewers -- and a separate production company "will also be filming the ceremony, and yet more commentary will be provided by Hazel Irvine and Trevor Nelson" (TELEGRAPH, 7/25).

REFUNDS OFFERED FOR DIVING TICKETS
: In London, Robert Booth reported LOCOG is offering refunds "on up to 4,800 tickets" for the diving competition after it was discovered the design of the Olympic Aquatic Centre "means divers jump out of view." LOCOG will repay fans with tickets in 600 seats for all eight sessions "of the high board event." The organizing committee "did not tell ticketholders in the £30-50 ($46-77) seats that they had an obscured view" when tickets were sold. LOCOG is emailing the seat holders today "offering three options: a refund now; a refund on the day if they decide to leave the event because of diminished enjoyment; or a refund even if they stay for the whole session" (GUARDIAN, 7/25). Also in London, Andy Hampson noted Olympic organizers have said that all ticket-holders "have been warned about this in advance." LOCOG Dir of Sport Debbie Jevans said, "Nobody will miss any of the action, and if there is any seat that is slightly obscured the ticket-holder is advised of that, so there are no secrets in that regard." Jevans also dismissed concerns that some competitors and officials have "found it too warm inside the venue," stating that the temperature complies with governing body regulations (INDEPENDENT, 7/25).
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