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SBD Global/August 2, 2012/Olympics

Olympic Tennis At All England Club Draws A More Colorful Crowd Than Wimbledon

Fans do 'the wave' at Wimbledon's Centre Court during an Olympics match.
The Olympic tennis tournament at Wimbledon is “not even close” to the usual experience at the facility, according to Marc Berman of the N.Y. POST. A sports agent said, “If this is your first time at Wimbledon, you’re not getting the real experience. It’s like someone hijacked Wimbledon. The Olympic organizers should’ve just let Wimbledon run it.” Berman wrote there are “too many garish pink Olympic banners laced all about, overpowering the stately charm and ambiance of Wimbledon’s ivy facade.” It "could have been worse,” as the All England Club stood against IOC TOP sponsor McDonald’s, which wanted “a concession and got denied.” A source said, “The powers-that-be here blocked it.” Still, fans “can’t move about the grounds without being blasted by Coca-Cola products.” Tennis player Andy Roddick said, “It’s different. It’s weird for us. We have a history at this venue that’s not quite this. There’s different people working here. You really don’t know anyone here by a first-name basis. All the routes are different. They’re shutting off streets. It’s like the Olympified Wimbledon. It’s all different, but you have to use this venue. It’s the best tennis place in the world. It’s a no-brainer” (N.Y. POST, 8/1). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan wrote under the header, “Reserved Wimbledon Loosens Up For Olympics.” During Olympic tennis play, “there is a lot of shushing,” and any stray noise from the stands “might draw a warning or even a glare from the serving player.” A baby yesterday “cried loudly and fans waved flags and cheered loudly, even as the ushers held curtains across fifth-level entrances and restricted the movement of fans to provide a calm background for the players.” At most of the venues in and around London, it is “a bizarre sporting carnival,” but at Wimbledon, “it's pure, venerable sport, dressed up for Mardi Gras and wearing pins” (Minneapolis STAR-TRUBUNE, 8/1).

WHAT'S IN A NAME? In London, Simon Usbourne noted the gymnastics competitions “were playing out yesterday at the North Greenwich Arena,” which during non-Games period is known as the O2 Arena. The facility was “stripped of its name as part of a quiet debranding operation instigated by Games organisers according to International Olympic Committee rules on branding.” The name change is “almost enough to make you feel sorry for O2, the mobile phone people.” But when it “comes to companies, if you ain't on the list (of official sponsors) you ain't coming in” (INDEPENDENT, 7/31).
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Olympics, United Kingdom

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