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Volume 6 No. 211


Despite the "inspire a generation" rhetoric used to justify the investment in the 2012 London Olympics, new official figures show that the number of 16- to 25-year-olds playing sport has "gone down since the Games," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The latest Active People survey from Sport England "shows regular participation among 16 to 25-year-olds has declined by 53,000 over the past year to 3.74 million." However, there will be relief for the government and the London 2012 organizers that the figures "show a marginal increase in the number of people playing sport overall compared with those compiled just before the Games." Despite Andy Murray becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years, "tennis also continued to struggle to arrest a decline in participation, putting future funding at risk." The Lawn Tennis Association was one of a handful of governing bodies put in "special measures" by Sport England last year and warned that "its funding would be cut if it did not improve its participation figures" (GUARDIAN, 12/12).

If there is suspicious activity at the 2014 Sochi Olympics "surveillance drones positioned over stadiums, roads and railroads will be there transmitting the images live to Russian security services," according to the AFP. The use of drones "is part of a package of security measures that are severe even by standards of recent Olympics and remind many Russians of the draconian lockdown imposed for the 1980 Moscow Games in the Soviet Union." Authorities "will record the Internet and phone connections of all visitors and traffic will be strictly controlled in a huge zone around Sochi." Meanwhile, "critics of the Kremlin are already being harassed." Nikita Zakharov, the deputy director of Zala Aero, a company that has provided drones and necessary training to the police and other agencies that will use dozens of them to monitor the area, said, "There will be 24-hour-drone surveillance." Zakharov said that they were "an economical solution to various challenges." Along with the helicopter drones, all-weather machines with speeds of up to 100km (60 miles) an hour "will zip through the gorges of the Sochi mountains bordering the turbulent North Caucasus region." But observers said that "many security measures in fact hark back to 1980, when authorities closed off the capital Moscow to hold the Summer Olympics." Declassified documents about the Moscow Olympics show that KGB officers impersonated cleaning personnel in hotels, that 6,000 foreigners were on a blacklist, and that police were instructed to prevent "unwelcome persons" from coming to Moscow. Hundreds of kilometers from Sochi, road signs went up last month warning about "limited access" to the city of 300,000 beginning Jan. 7 (AFP, 12/12). R-SPORT reported Russian organizers of Sochi 2014 "have released a guide to the Games for smartphones to help visitors get the most out of their trip to the Black Sea next February." The free app, available on the IOS, Android and Windows Phone operating systems, "is split into two sections with an exhaustive guide to all competitions" at the Feb. 7-23 Games as well as a rundown of the out-of-competition events linked to the Olympics (R-SPORT, 12/12).