Thursday 18 June 2009

Media Left to Assess Volume of Clapping

Such is the nature of this week's 2016 Olympic bid city presentations behind closed doors, the media are left clinging on to the smallest clues to assess their success.

The two most common questions asked to the cities are 'how loud was the applause you received?' and 'how many questions did IOC members ask you?'

Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, who attended the four city presentations, said Madrid was asked fewer questions than the other cities.

He speculated that this may have been because it was the last presentation of the day.

Speaking in Spanish, he told the press conference: 'The number of questions is no indication of the success of the presentation because if I look at the whole day there were less questions every time. I really don't know whether to attribute this to tiredness or lack of interest.'

He was quick to insist his answer had been badly translated. 'They were maybe a bit tired […] but certainly didn't lack interest. They were very interested,' he said in English.

As for applause, Samaranch said: 'There's nothing specific in IOC protocol that tells us we have to applaud or how long or loud we should applaud. I think it's just a matter of education. When we finished we received very warm applause.'

Tokyo the Safe Bet for the 2016 Olympics?

Tokyo is a safe bet for the 2016 Olympics: safe in terms of security and safe in terms of finances.

That's the message that came through loud and clear as the bid team faced the media following its presentation to 92 IOC members (the total membership is 106) today.

Tokyo 2016 chief executive Ichiro Kono gave some incredible figures: there are on average only two robberies a day in the city and four gun crimes a year.

As for finances, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has already set aside $4 billion for the games.

A video message from Japan's prime minister Taro Aso, who competed in the 1976 Olympics, reiterated government support.

Kono said the IOC members asked the team 'many, many' questions but said it responded very well.

Rio, Madrid and Chicago also presented to IOC members yesterday. Rio, in particular, seem keen to give their bid a different a feel, with an emphasis on emotion.

Carlos Nuzman, the Rio 2016 president, told reporters the Brazilian city was different from the other candidates and gave the Olympic Movement the opportunity to 'receive new supporters.'

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Chicago 2016: 'Yes we will!'

Barack Obama's presidential campaign slogan has been hijacked. But one can imagine he won't object to the famous phrase being modified if it helps the city of Chicago land the 2016 Olympics.

'Yes we can' were Obama's words; 'Yes we will' declared bid chief executive Pat Ryan after his team made a crucial presentation to IOC members this morning.

Ryan said: 'Yes we will. We will deliver extraordinary games. We will bring new energy and resources from the US in the service of the Olympic Movement. We will make a lasting impact on the youth of our country and, we believe, the world.'

It was the most dramatic of declarations in a half-hour full of dramatic declarations.

The city's mayor Richard Daley said the 2016 Olympics represented 'an opportunity to change the course of history' and could 'change the course of people's lives.'

The biggest surprise was that Obama wasn't part of the Chicago pitch to voters, the bid team sticking strictly to the IOC's advice about avoiding video messages from heads of states.

Rio are said to have no such concerns, with Brazil president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva expected to appear in this afternoon's presentation. Tokyo and Madrid will also present.

Chicago have prepared a public private partnership model to battle the threat of troubled finances and Ryan was at pains to point out that the whole world was suffering a financial meltdown, not just the US.

Like all Olympic bids, the US effort ticked the boxes: committing to huge public support for the bid, detailing how the world's children will benefit from the games, speaking of the rich long-term legacy and assuring everyone of government support.

More significant perhaps was the creation today of the White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport. Never before has the USA had a minister for sport.

Chicago 2016 said: 'This permanent White House office will promote the values of the Olympic Movement and encourage increased youth participation in athletics. The primary function of the Office will be to enhance awareness of the Olympic Movement through promotion of its fundamental principles at the federal level.'

What Makes the Perfect Olympic Games Host? Rogge Gives His 10-point Checklist

Commercial interests should not dictate which city is awarded the Olympic Games, according to IOC president Jacques Rogge.

The Belgian yesterday gave a list of what he feels IOC members should consider when they vote:

1. The care of the athletes;
2. Ignore geo-political considerations;
3. A good Olympic Village;
4. Good transport;
5. State-of-the-art venues;
6. A good organising committee;
7. The quality of the competition itself;
8. Good broadcasting facilities;
9. Other basic requirements: good security, good crowds and atmosphere, success for the home team;
10. Leaving a sustainable legacy.

The election of the 2016 Olympic host will take place in Copenhagen in October. Chicago, Madrid, Rio and Tokyo are the candidates.

As president, Rogge will not vote but he feels the majority of the IOC membership shares his views on what makes a good Olympic city.

Copenhagen is set to welcome the top politicians and dignitaries from the four countries after the IOC decided, after consideration, to allow heads of states to attend.

Tony Blair was credited with boosting London's successful campaign for the 2012 games and Vladimir Putin followed suit to help Sochi land the 2014 winter Olympics.

While Chicago will hope that Barack Obama can give them the edge this time, the respected former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch will campaign for Madrid. Rogge said he was happy with that.

He said: 'It is perfectly legitimate that he supports the candidature of his country.'

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Protestors 'Storm Into' IOC Headquarters to Oppose Chicago 2016

It was less of a brutal break-in than a prudent protest, but a group of demonstrators still caused a stir on the peaceful banks of Lake Geneva as they made their way into the IOC headquarters uninvited.

'No Games Chicago' are in Switzerland to oppose Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics and the interference broke out on the eve of an important pitch to IOC members.

The group leader Tom Tresser says he hopes to hold a press conference at the Olympic Museum at 12.15 CET tomorrow to further air his grievances.

He demanded to speak to IOC staff this evening and was eventually ushered into a room by Mark Adams, the IOC's new director of communications.

The organisation is upset at the lack of local government transparency over the bid in the context of Chicago's alleged debts and the risk of Olympic cost overruns.

It said: 'No Games Chicago believes that the time, money and energy placed into bidding and hosting the Olympics would be better spent on services and infrastructure that can improve the lives of the average Chicagoans.'

Asked whether he opposed the Olympic Games in general, Tresser told this blog: 'We're not here to talk about other cities, we're just here to say what we know is good for Chicago.'

Does Rio have the momentum to land the 2016 Olympics?

Rio's bid team did little to dampen the enthusiasm around its chances of landing the 2016 Olympic Games on the eve of its presentation to IOC members.

Rumours have been buzzing in Lausanne that, despite being initially tagged as underdogs, Rio could challenge Tokyo, Madrid and especially Chicago for the honour of staging the event.

Carlos Nuzman, the Rio 2016 president and himself an IOC member, said he felt in a 'very, very comfortable position,' adding: 'We've never been this comfortable on the day of a rehearsal [for such a presentation]. We were very comfortable [rehearsing] in the auditorium.'

The bid team, which has enjoyed the vocal support of the country's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has sought to make its proposal unique - at times even making fairly direct comparisons with its competitors.

Sergio Cabral, the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, said: 'I don't have any doubt about the positions of Tokyo, Madrid and Chicago. All wonderful cities. The huge difference is that Brazil is ready to host a wonderful games in 2016.

'For the United States, Japan and Spain, it would be just one more Olympic Games. It is very important for our country, for our continent, for our city. That's the difference.'

Of the world's ten biggest economies, he added, Brazil is the only one never to have hosted the Olympic Games.

The vote for the 2016 Olympic Games is on October 2, still 15 weeks away.

Tokyo banks on robust finances - and nice food

The strength of Tokyo's economic situation compared to the central Japanese government will allow the city successfully stage the 2016 Olympics despite the economic downturn, according to the city's governor.

The race to stage the games has entered a crucial stage as the four bidding cities – Chicago, Rio and Madrid are the other contenders – present their candidatures to a large group of IOC voters tomorrow.

Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara revealed that the key messages of their pitch tomorrow will be:
1. The fiscal situation of Tokyo is more stable than the central government;
2. Tokyo is environmentally-friendly – it has committed to capping carbon emissions;
3. Tokyo is the world's safest city – man, woman and child are safe to walk the streets at night;
4. Tokyo can offer great variety of food – it has the most amount of Michelin stars of any city.

Tokyo 2016 chief executive Ichiro Kono defended the plan to build a $1 billion stadium – the single biggest venue spend of the four cities – by saying it will become the 'hub of Asia.'

The IOC said the bid enjoys low public support, but Ishihara said the research was based on a poll which only covered 500 people and recent efforts to promote the bid domestically have been successful.

Rogge Finds Sport Presentations 'Interesting and Informative'

IOC president Jacques Rogge said all seven sports vying for inclusion in the 2016 Olympics made 'interesting and informative presentations.'

He said they all had 'something to offer' but that the choice will depend on which sports are 'the best for the Olympic programme.'

The IOC said the presentations were part of a broader effort to strengthen the Olympic programme and improve the evaluation process.

There is a limit of 28 sports in the Olympics and the 2012 Olympics will have 26, leaving two slots open for 2016.

Potential 2016 Olympic sports happy with presentations

The seven sports hoping to be added to the 2016 Olympic Games made their pleas to the IOC executive board yesterday. Their representatives took it in turn to talk up their chances.

Softball officials said they were 'quietly confident'. International Softball Federation president Don Porter said softball and the IOC 'shared the same DNA.' The sport was first part of the Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta but has been excluded of the 2012 London games.

Those presenting for rugby sevens said inclusion 'would be good for the Olympic Games and good for rugby.' The president of the International Rugby Board Bernard Lapasset said: 'I feel that we left a positive impression of a united and committed team with the members.'

Baseball representatives said they made an 'effective' pitch for Olympic re-instatement. Their presentation highlighted a year-round marketing plan, grassroots growth, leadership in anti-doping and the potential for a women's event.

Squash was keen to show how the infrastructure of the sport had been improved and how it could be incorporated cheaply into the games. World Squash president N Ramachandran said the presentation 'showed squash to its full potential.'

The golf party said it had 'worked hard to dispel the idea that their top level multi-million dollar players might not be available for participating in the games.' To prove the point, star players Colin Montgomerie and Annika Sorenstam both spoke to the board.

Karate officials said the sport would be a non-contact version and award points for specific moves, reports Reuters.

The report also quoted representatives for rollersports as saying that they offered an exciting concept with several competitions of in-line skating.

Rollersports federation general secretary Roberto Marotta said: 'If they want to get young people with a new, dynamic sport they can follow our proposal. We don't need any facilities. We can do it in a car park or a road.'

Friday 12 June 2009

New sports for 2016 Olympics – media review

Baseball, golf, karate, softball, squash, rugby and roller sports are competing for up to two places on the 2016 Olympic programme with a decision due in October.

The IOC executive board meets next week in Lausanne to hear presentations from the seven sports.

A maximum of two sports can come in but the IOC could also vote to leave the 26-sport programme as it is.

Here are some of the stories making the headlines in the lead-up to next week’s event:


Rod Gimour, squash correspondent for The Telegraph, reckons the sport ticks all the boxes to rejoin the Olympic programme.

He argues there is no higher achievement for a squash player than the Olympics gold; venues are cost effective; the glasscourts can be placed in a sexy location at the heart of the city; and the sport has global appeal.


Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie will plead golf’s case in Lausanne, reports Reuters.

Ty Votaw, to the Olympic Golf Committee's executive director, said leading golfers and a global audience of more than half a billion people are the sport's biggest assets.

The sport was last played at the 1904 St Louis Games.


Softball president Don Porter says he feels ‘optimistic’ that the sport will gain re-inclusion to the 2016 games, reports AP.

He said: ‘I think we're getting the message across […] that we are doing things to make progress and improvements, and we're getting some good feedback from them.’

Softball, which has been dropped from the 2012 games, has been fighting the perception that it lacks global appeal.


In an article on Reuters, baseball’s officials insist the 2016 bid cities already have the necessary facilities to stage baseball competitions.

Baseball federation chief Harvey Schiller said: ‘If baseball was not vying for the Olympic Games, it would be a sport the Olympics would probably seek to include because of its global impact, the revenue potential, its all-inclusive nature, its youth participation and its affordability.’

The IOC president Jacques Rogge says baseball would gain an advantage by including the best players from the US major leagues, according to AP.

The race to host the 2016 Olympics – media review

IOC members will decide on October 2 this year whether Chicago, Rio, Tokyo or Madrid will host the 2016 Olympics.

The cities will try to convince voters when they make presentations to them in Lausanne, Switzerland next week. It’s the first and only opportunity they’ll have to formally state their cases before the actual voting day.

Here are some of the stories making the headlines in the lead-up to next week’s event:


Some 93.6 per cent of Spanish people want Madrid to host the 2016 Olympics, according to a report in Europa Press.

The survey was carried out by the Madrid bid team and suggests a 2.2 point increase in support in six months. Over three quarters of interviewees were confident Madrid would be chosen, compared to 66.1 per cent in November 2008.


Peter Ueberroth, the former head of the US Olympic Committee, has made Chicago favourites to land the 2016 Olympic Games, reports AP.

In an interview with WBBM-AM radio in Chicago, he said the city’s multi-ethnic community and its large number of major companies gave it an edge over the other cities bidding for the games.


Chicago’s residents are worried that preparations for the 2016 Olympics would force them away from parks and the lakefront of Lake Michigan, reports the Chicago Tribune.

It is expected that construction on major venues would start as early as 2013, although the bid team say work will be phased to avoid too much disruption.

The race to host the 2016 Olympics – news from the bid cities

A round-up of the latest press releases sent out by the four candidates.


Miguel Ángel Villanueva, councillor for Economy and Employment, says Madrid offers citizens and visitors ‘an infinite’ number of sporting opportunities and venues.

The Spanish Tourism Board has released three new publications targeted at tourists interested in sport.


Chicago hosted an ambassador from Tokyo’s bid.

Chicago 2016 chairman and chief executive Patrick Ryan said ‘it was an honour to welcome’ famed comedian and entertainer Kanpei Hazama.

Ryan added: ‘This meeting signifies the power of the Olympic Movement to bring people together from all corners of the world. We wish him safe travels as his global journey continues.’


Tokyo 2016 has formed a strategic partnership with the University of Tsukuba to ‘work towards improving understanding of the role of sport in society and explore the long-term benefits of hosting [the games]’ in the city.

It’s Tokyo 2016’s sixth academic partnership.


Rio 2016 celebrated World Environment Day with two events:
- the planting of 107 trees in the new Olympic Wood;
- the opening of a new sewage treatment plant.

The bid said the actions ‘reaffirmed the environmental commitment of Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic project.’

Monday 8 June 2009

The debate over race has moved on, says Khan

(from the Fabian Society Conference on Saturday, 17 January 2009 as published on

The Labour Party has taken the ‘black vote’ for granted for too long, Sadiq Khan MP told a session at the Fabian Society conference.

He argued that the politics of race had to move on: “The Labour Party has for too long taken the black vote for granted. I think we’ve become lazy.”

He added: “It’s now about considering multiple identities - we’re not just Muslim or Asian or black or a parent or a Londoner or a man, we’re multiple identities.”

Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown felt race as an issue has been forgotten: “We no longer talk about race. We need to find new ways of addressing emerging problems. We’re nowhere near the kind of equal society we need to be in.”

The impact of Barack Obama’s rise to the US presidency was a recurring theme. Khan, the new chair of the Fabian Society, said Obama had “burst the myth that if you’re a person of colour you can’t win votes.”

Simon Wooley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said there was a danger of assuming we now live in a “post-racial society.”

Wooley added: “The black communities need to come together in this window of opportunity when it’s cool to be black and drive the agenda forward with the political parties.”

Guardian columnist Dave Hill said Obama “embodies and personifies the complexities of race.”

Lammy: Priorities Need to Change

(from the Fabian Society Conference on Saturday, 17 January 2009 as published on

British society is not broken but more needs to be done in relation to civic society, said higher education minister David Lammy.

While Britain’s approach to international development has recognised the need to move into the public sphere, we need to move that thinking into the domestic context, he added.

He said much had changed from the society in which he grew up: “What I see [now] is fantastic results in schools, the contribution that so many of our young people made in the Olympics. That was an example of huge success in society. I don’t recognise an account that says Britain is broken.”

Solving problems such as knife crime can’t be achieved through ‘quick fixes,’ he said. “I think it was a mistake not to make youth provision a statutory right when we came into power in 1997. It was only last year that we did that. We have put a lot of priority into schools but in my constituency it’s actually what happens when schools close […] that we weren’t able to deal with.”

Dr. Samantha Callan, chair of the Family Law Review, Centre for Social Justice, said society was showing “all the hallmarks of being broken.”

She insisted that there needed to be a renewed emphasis on pro-social norms.