British Olympic officials are "keen to find a significant role" for David Beckham at the Games after the former England football captain was left out of the Team GB football squad by coach Stuart Pearce, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Beckham, 37, "played a key part in securing the Games" for London as part of the delegation that traveled to Singapore in '05. He also worked with LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe as part of the failed bid to land the 2018 World Cup. Coe said, "Team selections are up to the coaches and managers of each sport." He added: "David has been an extraordinary supporter, probably our No. 1 supporter, of the Games from the very beginning and is keen to continue his enthusiastic support right to the end. I will be talking to him about a Games-time role." The absence of Beckham from Pearce's final 18-man squad also "increases the likelihood that he will be involved" in director Danny Boyle's opening ceremony. Bookmakers have "slashed the odds on him lighting the Olympic flame." Meanwhile, LOCOG is also considering whether "he should have an official role". Olympic sponsors adidas and Samsung are "likely to require his presence in London" (GUARDIAN, 6/28).
COACH'S DECISION: In London, Simon Rice reported that Beckham's omission "is a surprise, but suggests Pearce is picking a team based on football reasons." Beckham was named in Pearce's preliminary 35-man squad, but missed out when the roster was cut to 18 players. Beckham said, "Naturally I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold" (INDEPENDENT, 6/28). Also in London, Matt Dickinson reported that Pearce has "gone against all expectations" by picking Manchester City's Micah Richards as one of the three over-age players. Pearce also selected Liverpool's Craig Bellamy and ManU's Ryan Giggs as the other two over-age players, "as expected." Richards, meanwhile, caused "such controversy this summer by refusing to go on the standby list" for England at Euro 2012 (LONDON TIMES, 6/28).
EMOTIONAL REACTION: The INDEPENDENT's Tom Peck noted that there was strong reaction to Beckham's omission. Beckham's sister, Joanne, tweeted, “Well .... What a ******* joke ..... Dissapointend and outraged and very sad ..... A point will be proved I'm sure.” Former footballer and current pundit Robbie Savage wrote on Twitter, "Stuart Pearce does make some stupid decisions , ie [Scott} Parker captain of England and no beckham in gb Team , clueless !” Also on Twitter former footballer and current pundit Gary Lineker asked, “There are arguments for and against DB selection. What i don't understand though, is why string him along by including him in a short list?” (INDEPENDENT, 6/28).
China's top tennis player Li Na "slammed her tennis federation after being blindsided by their decision to enter her into the Olympic doubles tournament," according to REUTERS. The 2011 French Open champion was named in the women's singles and doubles in an entry list released by the Int'l Tennis Federation on Tuesday. Li's team told local media earlier this month that she "hoped to focus only on the singles given her injuries, regardless of Chinese sports officials' wishes to have her play in both tournaments." Li said, "If it were true, I don't know why they wanted me to play doubles" (REUTERS, 6/28). The Chinese Tennis Association said that the ITF's list does not guarantee Li will appear in the doubles. CTA spokesperson Xie Miqing said, "It's not decided yet. The ITF announced the list based on the rankings but still has to confirm with us and the players [whether the listed athletes will play or not]" (CHINA DAILY, 6/28). Li said that the CTA has "never consulted her before releasing" the roster for the Olympic Games. Li said, "I knew nothing before a friend texted me about this. I just felt surprised. I hope they should show some respect to the players" (XINHUA, 6/28).
LOCOG CEO Paul Deighton said that the $7.8M in “unaccounted contingency remains constant within the LOCOG operating budget” of $3.4B, according to Jacquelin Magnay of the London TELEGRAPH. Deighton said, "We are estimating to land right on target, there is a bit of movement on both sides but generally everything is going to plan." He added that last-minute costs "such as overtime for construction workers having to work nights and weekends to make up for bad weather delays will not impact on the budget.” Deighton was “upbeat about the finances" and said that ticket sales "continue to hit projected targets and the merchandising programme -- which includes the sale of specially commissioned Olympic torches for auction -- is going well.” There are about 300,000 "non-football Olympic tickets, 1.2 million football tickets and more than one million Paralympic tickets still to sell.” LOCOG execs have “restricted spectators bringing 3G data equipment into the Olympic venues because of interference problems with emergency services.” There may be “problems with Wi-Fi coverage at Olympic Park as well, following a breakdown in a deal between the different communications providers” (TELEGRAPH, 6/28).
NOT SO FAST, MY FRIENDS: CBS News' Erica Hill reports the London Games are “on-track to be the most over-budget Olympics since” the 1996 Atlanta Games. CBS News' Mark Phillips notes when it landed the Games in '05, LOCOG promised to "deliver a more measured approach" than the extravagant 2008 Beijing Games. Organizers pledged the event would cost under $4B, "too good a bargain it turned out.” Phillips: “Within two years, the London organizers had already admitted that the Games would cost about four times as much, about $15 billion, once taxes and security costs were included. Lately they’ve claimed they’re actually under budget by about three-quarters of a billion dollars. Not so fast.” Phillips noted London "is not unique,” as just about all Olympics "run way over budget.” Phillips: “In the past 50 years, the Olympics have run an average of 170% over their original costing estimates” (“CBS This Morning,” CBS, 6/28).
A NEW UPRISING: Rock band Muse will “provide the official song" for the London Games. The track "Survival" will “be played throughout sports sessions at official venues for the games, such as when athletes enter and during the build-up to medal ceremonies” (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 6/28). REUTERS’ Alan Baldwin noted LOCOG officials unveiled a “tailored audio-visual concept on Wednesday, including a music programme with an official track by chart-toppers Muse and new work by top artists.” The officials “pledged to plug in to the crowd's energy and not drown it out.” A library of “2,012 songs has been compiled with five music themes -- energy, primetime, extreme, heritage and world stage -- tailored to accompany specific sports and venues.” All venues will have “presenters appearing on big screens to guide spectators through the action and 'interact' with the crowd.” Ticket holders will also “be able to purchase in-ear wireless headsets” at a price of $15.60 for “live commentary during the action at events that might otherwise be confusing or unfamiliar.” In addition, specially-commissioned films “will be shown before each session at venues, giving spectators an overview of the sport with action shots of former and current athletes and using graphics to explain the basic rules” (REUTERS, 6/27).
A group of residents are "expected to launch legal proceedings against proposals to station surface-to-air missiles on the roof of their tower block" during the Olympics. Solicitors acting for the local authority tenants said they "are mounting a challenge against Ministry of Defence plans" to potentially place the ground-based air defence system on top of the Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone, east London (London GUARDIAN, 6/28).
ON GOOD BEHAVIOR: The London DAILY MAIL reported that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has cautioned her country's athletes traveling to the London Olympics about "doing anything provocative" in Britain, which is "engaged in a renewed dispute with Argentina over the Falkland Islands." Fernandez said, "We will show with pride, with honour, that we are Argentines. We don't need to do anything that conflicts with sports norms to show our rights" (DAILY MAIL, 6/27).
IN THE MONEY: Online int'l money transfer company Xoom Corp. announced it has become an official sponsor of the Peruvian Olympic team. Xoom will give a monetary donation to the Peruvian Olympic team and will donate an additional dollar for every transaction sent to Peru using Xoom.com in July (Xoom).
CASHING IN: The CHINA DAILY reported that calls for more Chinese investment into London come as the U.K. is "struggling to emerge from a double-dip recession," after two consecutive quarters of contraction in GDP. U.K. Trade and Investment hopes at least £1B ($1.6B) worth of business opportunities "can be generated through the Olympic business legacy program." U.K. Trade and Investment will also hold a China Business Day under the Global Investment Summit in London on the opening day of the Games, July 27, "hoping to attract investors from all over the world" (CHINA DAILY, 6/27).
SAFE KEEPING: The DAILY MAIL reported that the medals awarded at the London Games will be stored "in the vaults of the Tower of London for safekeeping" during the Games. They will be handed over in a private ceremony on July 2 (DAILY MAIL, 6/27).
LUCK RUNS OUT: In Phnom Penh, Yeun Ponlork reported that Cambodia's weekly Sports Lottery, owned by Sport Social Affairs Co, Ltd. has "been suspended for the second time" since its inception in '10. According to company owner Ly Lun, the lottery "tried to tweak its format and rules" when it was relaunched last year but "failed to attract sufficient sales to ensure a profit." The Sports Lottery also helps raise funds for the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (PHNOM PENH POST, 6/28).