London Olympics On Banning Spree, Including Vuvuzelas
Many people with tickets to the Games this summer "have reacted with surprise to the organisers' latest diktat, restricting what they can actually take with them to the Games to a small handful of items," according to Tom Peck of the London INDEPENDENT. The Beijing Games were "routinely criticised for its seemingly high levels of oppressing political dissent," but at London, "any objects or clothing bearing political statements" will not be permitted. As if the Games were staged in the airport, "liquids can only be brought in containers of up to 100ml," empty bottles are allowed, and free drinking water is available on the park. Food must not be in "excessive amounts -- yes to sandwiches, no to picnic hampers, which may not fit through the bag scanners anyway." A two-page list of restricted items includes "balls, rackets, frisbees or similar objects or projectiles, noisemakers such as hunting horns, air horns, klaxons, drums, vuvuzelas and whistles." Besides the exception of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, "flags of countries not participating in the Games" are not allowed. One Games attender tweeted: "No balls? No picnics? That's my plans a little bit ruined. Just have to tell the kids now." Another wrote on Twitter: "NO liquids over 100ml allowed, Payment with Visa or Cash ONLY, 1 small bag per person.. Is this Ryanair FFS? (INDEPENDENT, 7/12). In Toronto, Joseph Hall wrote it is "not often that the world will cheer a decision by Olympics poobahs." However, an exception may as well be "a diktat that bans vuvuzelas from Games venues" (TORONTO STAR, 7/12). ZEENEWS.com wrote that one "crackpot order" includes fans who have "too much" food on them will be told "you can take it in, but you're banned from eating it!" The "Games Maker Pocket Guide" reads: "If a restricted item is identified...the owner will be advised that the item is restricted and, as a condition of entry, must not be used within any Games." Someone with a picnic "could be told to take it in but not eat it." The book also warns: "In extreme cases this could result in...ejection of the spectator." The pages include a "crackpot quiz" about what to do if someone asks for directions to the loo and the volunteer cannot figure out if they are a man or a woman (ZEENEWS.com, 7/12).
NO BAIL-OUT: In London, Ashling O'Connor reported that ministers "will reject a plea by cash-strapped Olympic chiefs" for a £2M ($3.1M) taxpayer-founded bail-out ahead of the London Games. The British Olympic Association has asked the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to plug its £1.7M ($2.7M) shortfall through the public purse after "disappointing sales of its Team GB supporters' scarves and collectable coins" (LONDON TIMES, 7/11).