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A gallimaufry of London 2012 bits


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Can't sleep - too damn excited. It's like 20 Christmasses rolled into one.

Everyone just seems a bit happier this week too - could be because it's stopped pissing down I think, but I think the country will be on a high for the next couple of weeks. Fearing the come down afterwards though.

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It is 0812; and I can hear bells being rung!

Thousands of bells, big and small, rang out across Britain for three minutes on Friday as the country prepared for the London Olympics opening ceremony later in the day.

Churches across the UK and British embassies around the world got into the spirit of the bell-ringing extravaganza, devised by artist Martin Creed as part of a 12-week programme of cultural events celebrating the arts alongside sport.

People were encouraged to ring any kind of bell -- from a church, a bicycle, a door and even a mobile phone as the harmonious ringing spread from Wales in the west to Weymouth in the south.

One of the biggest bells taking part was London's Big Ben in parliament's clock tower, the first time it has rung outside its regular hours since the funeral of King George VI in 1952.

It chimed about 40 times between 8:12 (0712 GMT) and 8:15 a.m. after special permission was granted by parliament.


In Beijing, the British embassy rang its bell which was cast in 1897 for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee while staff at the High Commission in Bangladesh rang rickshaw bells.

In Brussels, the British ambassador rang the bell at the Belgian Stock Exchange to begin the day's trading.


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  • 2 weeks later...

London produced very good Games - IOC's Rogge

London has delivered a "very good Games", with athletes, teams and federations delighted with the facilities, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said on Wednesday.

With just over four days remaining, Rogge said he had no complaints with what he had seen so far.

"All in all I would say these are very good Games and I am a very happy man," he told reporters after being asked whether London had delivered on its promises.

"I think everybody is very happy. I will have attended all sports until (by) the end of the Games, the federations are very happy about the venues. Everybody is really ecstatic about the Olympic village."

Belgian Rogge, a former Olympic yachtsman, said broadcasters had reported increased ratings while the success of the home team, with Britain enjoying their best medal haul since 1908, was also a very important factor.

Team GB had won a record 22 gold medals and 48 medals in total by the end of Day 11 on Tuesday, ranking third in the overall table behind China and the United States and triggering an outpouring of enthusiasm across the sports-mad nation.

The opening ceremony of the Olympics attracted an estimated global TV audience of 900 million people, with U.S. broadcaster NBC notching up record viewing figures across the Atlantic.

Rogge has so far visited 22 of the 26 sports with the remainder on his schedule for the final four days.

"There is also the success of the home team and that is very important," he said from the 28th floor of a central London hotel with a panoramic view of the capital.

London won the right to host the Olympics in 2005 with the promise of delivering Olympic Games that would revamp part of the city's once run-down East End.

A day after winning the Olympics, however, the capital was hit by deadly bombing attacks that instantly raised security concerns.

The sharp economic downturn from 2008 onwards further squeezed the budget with costs soaring to over 9.3 billion pounds, more than three times the initial estimate.

Organisers opted to use several existing venues while also constructing some temporary ones in an effort to rein in costs.

Legacy remained a constant slogan in their preparations but they have still to finalise the future use and ownership of the Olympic stadium after the 16-day sports extravaganza.


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Astronauts Watch Summer Olympics From Space

The six astronauts living aboard the International Space Station are making time in their busy schedules to watch the 2012 Summer Olympics from space.

In a new letter to Earth, NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, an avid sports fan, describes being able to catch some of the exciting events while in orbit.

"Even with all the work we had to do, we found time to get together and watch the Olympics," Acaba wrote in a post to his blog "The Great Outer Space" Tuesday (Aug. 7). "Of course everyone knows there is something special about the Olympics and that feeling is not lost in space."

Acaba and his crewmates were even able to tune in for some of the history-making moments from the 2012 Summer Olympics, which are being held in London.

"We were able to see Michael Phelps become the most decorated Olympian and Gabby Douglas' nerves of steel as she won the individual Gymnastics gold medal," he said.

Space station's Olympic spirit

Acaba added that his unique surroundings drove home the significance of the Olympics.

"To have two weeks to watch the best athletes of the world compete is a dream come true for any sports enthusiast," Acaba wrote. "To watch them while orbiting above the Earth makes them even more special for us (even though we often miss the end of a competition because we lose satellite coverage)."

Acaba drew parallels between the spirit of the Olympic games, and what the astronauts are trying to accomplish on the International Space Station.

"I have noticed two things while watching these games," Acaba said. "One is that no matter what the sport or which country is winning, we all appreciate the efforts of the athletes and acknowledge their abilities. We truly have an international crew on the space station: three Russian cosmonauts, one Japanese astronaut and two American astronauts (one of Indian descent and one of Puerto Rican descent)."

While the individual astronauts represent their home space agencies, it is essential for the crewmembers to respect and work well with one another to keep the space station running. There are currently six astronauts living aboard the space station: NASA spaceflyers Acaba and Sunita Williams, Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, Yuri Malenchenko and Sergei Revin, and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.

"While we work together as one team we still maintain our national pride," Acaba explained. "Just like watching a basketball game with your buddy that is from a different city, we give each other a hard time but congratulate with sincerity the winning team or individual. It is easy to see why we do this when you look out the window from the ISS. We all come from the same place, Planet Earth."


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London Games refreshed Olympic brand - IOC chief

The 2012 London Games succeeded in refreshing the Olympic brand by injecting enthusiasm as organisers delivered on their promise to create an event tailor-made for athletes, Jacques Rogge said on Sunday.

Hours before the flame is extinguished at the stadium's cauldron during the Games closing ceremony, International Olympic Committee president Rogge said he was a happy man.

"I am a happy and grateful man. On July 6, 2005 London promised athletes' Games and that is exactly what we got," said Rogge, who presided over his last Games, sitting next to London Games chief Sebastian Coe.

"I will say history has been written by many athletes. The Games were absolutely fabulous. London has absolutely refreshed the Games," he told reporters.

Organisers, who struggled with some empty seats in officials' seating areas in the opening days, saw the British public pour into the arenas, setting new spectator records.

The host nation have won a record 28 gold medals going into the final day of competition - their best performance in more than a century as well as 15 silver and 19 bronze.

Rogge said London would not be the same after hosting the Games and urged national sports bodies and politicians to harness the energy and momentum the Olympics had created across Britain with a long-term sports plan.

"I think this is a challenge Britain faces, to continue on this wave. There is a great foundation that has been laid."


The outpouring of joy and enthusiasm, said Rogge, was vital for the success of the Olympics, prepared in the midst of a global economic downturn with an operational budget of two billion pounds and another 9.3 billion pounds in direct Olympic investment.

"Everything indicates that the operational budget will be in balance," Rogge said.

London has had, until now, fewer doping cases than the Beijing Olympics four years ago with 11 athletes expelled by the IOC or their teams during the Olympic period starting in July 16.

Another 117 were caught using banned substances in the two months leading up to the Games.

There were 20 proven cases of doping at the Beijing Games four years ago, including six horses, down from 26 cases in Athens in 2004. Five of those positive tests emerged in re-testing of samples after the Games.

"It is a sign that the system works," Rogge said. "I am happy about the fact that we could catch athletes who cheated."

He said samples would again be kept for eight years and re-tested when newer methods of detection emerged or a yet unknown substance was revealed in the coming years.


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Guinea and Ivory Coast athletes missing in London

Athletes from Guinea and Ivory Coast have joined several other Africans who have gone missing following the London Olympics, officials said on Tuesday.

Three Guineans and three Ivorians disappeared, adding to a total list of 11 Congolese and Cameroonians suspected to be trying to make new lives in Europe.

"Three members of the delegation have not returned to the Olympic village," Adama Doumbia, technical adviser at the Ministry of Sports and Leisure in Ivory Coast, told Reuters.

He did not give the names of the missing members of the delegation but said they contained two swimmers and a wrestling coach.

An official on Guinea's Olympic Committee told Reuters on condition of anonymity that swimmer Dede Camara, judo competitor Facinet Keita and runner Aicha Toure had been missing since Saturday, the day before the closing ceremony.

Games officials are already looking for a Democratic Republic of Congo judo competitor, three other members of that country's delegation and seven Cameroonian athletes.

The London Olympic organising committee said it had notified British police about the missing Cameroonians but added the athletes would not be infringing immigration laws until their visas expired in November.


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  • 4 weeks later...

Greek statue of goddess Nike unveiled at Royal Arsenal, Woolwich





Greek Goddess statue marks end to Games

The four metre (13ft) high statue of Nike was presented to London by the Ancient City of Olympia to mark the Greek origins of the Games.

Created by sculptor Angelos Kougioumtzis, it was revealed at the Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich.

A statue has been presented to host cities since 1996, when the centenary of the modern Olympic era was marked.

This ensures that the ancient Greek origins of the Games - which are marked at the start of each Olympiad with the lighting of the Olympic Flame by the rays of the sun on Mount Olympus - will take centre stage at the closing of them.



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RIP Monty!

Queen Elizabeth’s corgi Monty, who starred in Olympic Games opening, dies


LONDON — Buckingham Palace says one of Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis, who took a star turn in the James Bond sketch during the Olympics opening ceremony, has died.

Monty and two other of the queen’s beloved corgis appeared in a James Bond sketch during the opening ceremony, greeting Daniel Craig’s James Bond as he arrived at the palace to accept a mission from the monarch.

The palace on Sunday confirmed that Monty — who was previously owned by the Queen Mother — had died. It did not provide details on when or how Monty died, or the age of the dog, but added that another of the queen’s pets, dachshund-corgi crossbreed Cider, also had died.

With the death of Monty, Queen Elizabeth II now has two corgis in the palace — Willow and Holly — both of whom also appeared in the Olympics sketch.

National Post

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'Olympic effect' hits airports

Passenger numbers at leading UK airports including Heathrow were hit by the "Olympic effect" last month.

A total of 9.5 million passengers passed through the five UK airports run by BAA in August 2012 - a 2.0% dip on the August 2011 figure.

The reduction at the airports, which include Heathrow and Stansted, was more pronounced in the first two weeks of August (down 4.5%).

"This suggests a continuation of the 'Olympic effect' reported in July, with UK passengers staying at home as well as non-Olympic visitors from overseas choosing to defer their journeys," BAA said.

Numbers at Heathrow airport dipped 1.9% to 6.5 million last month, while Stansted traffic was down 5.2% and Southampton fell 6.4%.

Aberdeen airport numbers, though, rose 9.2% and Glasgow traffic increased 3.1%.

BAA chief executive Colin Matthews said: "We are proud of Heathrow's performance during London 2012 and warmly thank the volunteers, our own staff and the many other organisations who planned and delivered a warm and efficient welcome to Great Britain.

"We intend to combine the best of the Games experience with Heathrow's ongoing investment programme to steadily improve the airport for our passengers and airlines."

At Gatwick, formerly a BAA-run airport but now operated by American concern Global Infrastructure Partners, numbers rose 0.2% last month to 3.83 million.

The West Sussex airport's chief financial officer Nick Dunn said: "The excitement of the Games saw fewer Britons jet abroad on holiday in the first two weeks of August than last year, although there was an increase in late holiday bookings after the closing ceremony and this has continued into September."


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Jowell quits shadow cabinet

Shadow Olympics minister and Dulwich and West Norwood MP Tessa Jowell is quitting frontline politics after two decades in Labour's top team, she has announced.

The Labour MP was instrumental in securing and delivering the London 2012 Games while in government and continued to play a key role in opposition.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Olympics and Paralympics would not have been possible without Dame Tessa's determination.

Dame Tessa said it was a privilege to have been involved in the London games from start to finish and praised Olympians, Paralympians and the volunteers who helped the spectacular events to run smoothly.

She said: "It has been the greatest privilege to have served as part of Labour's frontbench team, in government and most recently in the shadow cabinet for nearly 20 years.

"To have been able to be part of planning and delivering the Olympic and Paralympic Games from start to finish is a rare opportunity in public life and that too has been a privilege. After 10 years with the Olympics and Paralympics, it is job done.

"Our country has changed this summer and for the better because of the power of the British people, the Games Makers and our great Olympic and Paralympic athletes."



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Found out today that local London school children write small letters to the athletes wishing them luck at the Paralympics.

And the notes were in the rooms for when the athletes arrived.

The one I saw had pictures drawn by the kid also.

*Only in London*

(I presume the same was done for the Olympics.)

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London 2012 airspace restrictions come to an end

All airspace restrictions relating to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have now been lifted, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed today. The last restricted zone, shown as P114 on aviation charts, in place for the Paralympic Games, ended at midnight on Wednesday 12 September.

Praising the role of the General Aviation community in keeping infringements of the restricted zones to a bare minimum during the summer, the CAA’s Chief Executive, Andrew Haines, said: “Establishing such a large airspace security zone for that length of time was unprecedented, particularly as it covered some of the most congested airspace in the world. The fact that it was so successful, is in no small part due to the role played by the GA associations and their members.”

To raise awareness of the restrictions, a major publicity campaign was spearheaded by Airspace & Safety Initiative (ASI) over the last 18 months. As part of that campaign, ASI created a dedicated website; distributed 80,000 leaflets, including French and German versions; recorded three podcasts; developed an iBook guide; and co-hosted an all day seminar for 800 pilots in Central London. Hundreds of others were given advice at general aviation events and shows around the country. CAA staff also visited and briefed all affected aerodromes in and around the main restricted zones.


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The view from the top of the stands at Greenwich Park :wub:


This is how they put the stuff away after the triathlon :o


The view to the hospitality area in Greenwich Park - it was crammed later, this was only a couple of minutes after the first afternoon session of the Modern Pentathlon!


The BBC did have a few screens around the city - one of the best-kept secrets was the one at Greenwich Park outside the venue. I loved it there.

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Likewise; the Croydon return address made me chuckle a little.

It appears that there were a few different varients; mine makes specific mention that I was a Ceremonies volunteer - are the Gamesmaker ones specific to your team role or just generic?

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Likewise; the Croydon return address made me chuckle a little.

It appears that there were a few different varients; mine makes specific mention that I was a Ceremonies volunteer - are the Gamesmaker ones specific to your team role or just generic?

Nope, nothing specific. It includes "Olympic and Paralympic" when thanking me. Even though I only did Paralympic. So I guess I've got the general Games Maker one.

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Heathrow Bids Farewell to Athletes from Around the World

Heathrow today waved goodbye to 5,000 departing Paralympic athletes and officials following the largest ever Paralympic Games.

LONDON, ENGLAND, September 19, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- It has been a fantastic summer of sport for Great Britain and, as the Host Airport for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Heathrow has been the first - and last - port of call for 80 per cent of Olympic and Paralympic Games family and visitors to the UK.

Since the start of Heathrow's Games period over 75,000 journeys have been made by Paralympians, Olympians and team officials and over 2,800 wheelchairs have been processed. The airport also welcomed:

- 5,000 oversized bags including canoes, javelins, bikes, pole vault poles

- 1,300 firearms plus ammunition

- 20,000 members of the media

As the UK's only hub airport, Heathrow is used to welcoming visitors that require additional assistance and while the Olympics presented Heathrow with a challenge of volume, the Paralympic challenge has been one of complexity.

Heathrow has spent the last seven years preparing for the challenges of the Olympic and Paralympic Games: consulting previous host airports, experts Whizz-Kidz and Open Doors, and the Paralympic athletes themselves. In addition to reviewing processes and procedures, Heathrow recruited and trained staff and 1,000 volunteers, installed new ramps and lifts and sourced a specialist technician for onsite wheelchair repairs.

BAA Chief Executive, Colin Matthews, said:

"This has been a fantastic Games for London and at Heathrow, we are proud to have played our part as the host airport. I'd like to thank all our staff and the volunteers that have been working with us during this period.

"The focus is now on London 2012 legacy and many of the improvements at Heathrow will continue to benefit all our passengers for years to come."

Heathrow is now looking forward to passing the baton to the next host airports, Rio de Janeiro and Sochi and sharing our experiences of the London 2012 Games


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