Gold-Medal Winning Cyclist Chris Hoy Is Team GB's Flag Bearer
Four-time cycling gold medalist Chris Hoy will lead a depleted Team GB into the London Games Opening Ceremony on Friday night amid complaints that "the event starts too late for most athletes to attend," according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. Hoy was confirmed Monday as the official flag bearer by Olympic chiefs, who said that "more of the 542 British athletes would have taken part in the traditional parade" if the three-hour show had started at 7pm GMT instead of 9pm GMT. Meanwhile, LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe insists that "it is not down to him to select the person who will light the torch at Friday's ceremony," amid reports that "he had been pushing the claims of Daley Thompson," a fellow double Olympic gold medalist, over those of Steve Redgrave, the five-times rowing champion (LONDON TIMES, 7/23). In London, Paul Kelso reported that Hoy's nomination "comes after the triple Olympic champion carried the flag at the Closing Ceremony in Beijing." Hoy was the unanimous choice of athletes in a number of the 31 teams polled by the British Olympic Association (TELEGRAPH, 7/23). The PA reported that Coe "has an input" in the choice of the person to light the Olympic flame, but "the final decision will be taken by the Opening Ceremony creative teams headed by Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry." That appears slightly at odds with BOA CEO Andy Hunt who stated that "it would be a joint decision between the BOA and London 2012" (PA, 7/23).
TIMING IS KEY: In London, O'Connor reported that British Olympic chiefs "have accused the London Games organisers" of putting showbiz before sport, complaining that the £27M ($42M) Opening Ceremony will start too late. Team GB is not due to enter the Olympic stadium until 11:30pm GMT on Friday as the last of the 203 competing nations. Assuming that the Opening Ceremony "keeps to its schedule" -- and there are fears of overruns even after recent cuts -- British athletes are unlikely to be tucked up in bed before 1am GMT. BOA Chair Colin Moynihan said that he "argued vainly with" LOCOG for the show "to start two hours earlier" (LONDON TIMES, 7/23).
KEEP IT DOWN: EUROSPORT reported that rehearsals for Boyle's £30M ($46M) "showpiece opening -- titled Isles of Wonder -- are continuing throughout this week." Some athletes trying to sleep in the nearby Olympic village have complained about the noise of helicopters hovering over the stadium as producers tested aerial broadcast shots. In addition, every night the stadium glows a different color and loud music can be heard across the site, with a full dress rehearsal, attended by volunteers, scheduled for later in the week (EUROSPORT, 7/23).
BUILD ME UP: In London, Saj Chowdhury reported that almost two thirds of Team GB athletes believe "facilities for Olympic sports in the U.K. have improved as a result of London 2012." Of the 273 athletes interviewed in a BBC Sport website survey, 163 (59.7%) were adamant it had had a positive impact on facilities. Eighty-five percent also said that "interest in their sports would grow beyond 2012" (BBC, 7/23).