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Fake ID? That’s not very sporting. December 6, 2009

Posted by sallylester in Current affairs, Olympics 2012.
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It was yesterday revealed that 90 workers on the Olympic building site in Stratford had been arrested on suspicion of illegally trying to obtain work and forging documents which allowed them to gain employment in the UK.

Workers from Nigeria, the Ukraine, Brasil, Kosovo, Moldova, India, Sierra Leone and Albania have all been investigated, and many of them charged and deported by the United Kingdom Borders Agency (UKBA) which has a permanent base at the East London site to try and control the employment of immigrant workers.

Speaking to the Independent Tony Smith, senior director for the UKBA’s Olympic 2012 programme, said: “The UK Border Agency has officers based permanently at the Olympic site to check the identity of people seeking work and help ensure the Games are delivered on time, with a workforce legally entitled to be there.

Workers on the Olympic site were illegally working without passports or visas

“We’re working closely with employers and contractors, giving presentations and advising them what checks they need to make to prevent illegal working. My officers offer forgery awareness training and conduct visits to businesses to ensure that their policies and procedures are up-to-date.

“By working with other agencies we can help make the Olympics a safe and enjoyable event for all.”

These set-backs in building is not ideal for keeping the schedule on track, but at least precautions are in place and these illegal workers are not slipping through the net and compromising the build in that way.

It was also confirmed that eight workers on the site for were eligible to work in the UK were also arrested; one of which being a British journalist who had gone undercover to try and expose lax security at the site. Looks like he was wrong. Security is tight.

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“Paris? I don’t think so, son!” December 5, 2009

Posted by sallylester in Celebrity, Current affairs, Olympics 2012, Sport, Uncategorized.
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Even Britain’s top comedians are getting in on the Olympic act with Eddie Izzard visiting the Olympic site and posting about it on his twitter account (eddieizzard). And Dave’s satirical show “Argumental” has a very interesting debate about the 2012 Olympics coming to London.

Marcus Brigstoke takes the view that London shouldn’t be the host, while the hilarious Charlie Higson (of Fast Show fame) struggles to argue against the point. Seems that in the world of celebrity London 2012 isn’t exactly held in the highest regard.

Check it out:

Fifa 1 – 0 Uefa in Olympic battle. December 4, 2009

Posted by sallylester in Celebrity, Current affairs, Olympics 2012, Sport.
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As football looms large in the nation’s thoughts with the World Cup draw taking place today the involvement of these world-class footballers in the Olympic games – an event meant for “amateurs” comes to the public’s attention.

How amateur any of these athletes who have trained for their whole lives are is another question, the main point is whether a footballer with World Cup experience should be allowed to compete for their country in 2012. Seemingly it makes sense that they should be banned because if they do take place we are in effect having another World Cup two years on from the competition in South Africa.

The problem was discussed by the Olympic committee after uefa (Union of European Football Association) proposed that football at the Olympics should become an under-21 event instead of an under-23 which was the rule in Beijing 2008.

Fifa general secretary Jerome Val confirmed today however that is was too close to the start of the 2012 Games to change the rules and that it would remain that the team should be under 23 years of age (with three over-age players allowed to compete – a la Lionel Messi who helped Argentina to gold at Beijing).

Other news on the Olympic football front is that Great Britain WILL be entering a team in 2012 although due to disagreements between the different camps it will be an England side rather than a United Kingdom conglomeration of teams.

Still, it will be good to see a youthful side – some rising stars – playing for Team GB. Maybe youngsters like Jack Wilshire and Sanchez Watt will be able to make the country (and Arsene Wenger) proud.

Fair’s fair. Right? November 26, 2009

Posted by sallylester in Celebrity, Current affairs, Health, Olympics 2012, Sport, Uncategorized.
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This week’s big Olympic news comes in the form of people with learning difficulties being re-allowed to enter the paralympic games in 2012.

After having been banned from competing after an Italian team had been found guilty of faking learning difficulties in their gold-medal-winning basketball team people with an IQ of 70 or lower will now be allowed to enter paralympic events.

In the interests of being fair I must say that allowing people with severe learning difficulties to excel in their chosen sport and take their place on the world’s stage is an extremely good thing and not something I object to in any way, shape, or form.

However, I can’t help but wonder how fair it is on the other athletes that someone with no physical handicap and an IQ of 70 can compete alongside people whose disability truly makes sporting events an effort and a real show of strength.

Sporting prowess really has nothing to do with levels of intelligence. Different people excel at different things and just because someone struggles with long division, spelling or questions of logic does not mean that there will be a direct effect on their physical strength and stamina.

The Olympic Games is about sports and fitness, not about IQ and with a criteria that is so obviously easy to fake (as the Italians proved) I just cannot see what there is to gain from this change in the rules. Does it mean that if someone competing in the main Games is found to have an IQ lower than 70 that they wont be able to compete at the same level still?

It’s a well documented fact, and the subject of several hundred jokes that sportsmen and women are not always the brightest of sparks. You only have to think of the impressions of David Beckham or Wayne Rooney in sketch shows to see how widely speaking these world-class footballer’s are thought of as stupid.

They like many, many other athletes chose a path away from academia and no one is judging them for that. They are incredible sportsmen with sporting minds, knowledge and creativity. No one would dare to say that they could not compete in the top flight of football; that they should be ranked in terms of their IQ so why should this apply to athletes in the Olympic Games?

Sponsors of obesity. November 21, 2009

Posted by sallylester in Current affairs, Health, Olympics 2012, Sport, Uncategorized.
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When you think of the Olympic Games, you think of athletes, of people at their physical peak; the epitome of health and fitness. But what about those behind the scenes? Once you get past the athletes and personal trainers it seems that the Games isn’t all isotonic drinks and protein shakes.

Three of the main sponsors of London 2012 are McDonalds, Cadburys and Coca-cola. Not exactly what you may expect of a sporting event aiming to promote healthy living. It is hoped that the 2012 Olympics will help to combat the obesity crisis in the UK, but if a child sees those golden arches associated with the toned physiques of triathletes and swimmers then who could blame them for continuing to crave these fatty, salty, sugar-filled treats and still expect to be healthy.

Fast food is causing obesity in children

Latest figures show that 22% of British children are overweight and despite governmental attempts to combat this problem very little change can actually be seen. The “change for life” program so widely advertised encourages families to eat better and excercise more, but in a strange hypocrisy Physical Education lessons are no longer compulsory in schools.

What sort of message does that send? For as long as I can remember P.E. lessons have been an integral part of the curriculum. Not always a student’s favourite, often a dreaded couple of hours a week, but still a necessary evil to make sure that children understand how important it is to stay fit and healthy.

The Olympic Games is such a wonderful opportunity to get the younger generation interested in sports. The glamour and excitement associated with the Games should be attractive to children who are growing up in the ‘X-Factor’ generation where fame and column inches are the ultimate goal.

But it seems that the Games is destined to be marred by the corporate world of sponsors and advertising. McDonalds, Coca Cola and Cadbury are globally recognised brands and are the kind of companies that have the levels of cash to support such a huge event but this doesn’t justify their involvement in something that is so quintessentially opposed to these food brands.

There should be an alternative to these sugary snacks who could step up and take over the role as sponsor. Who this could be however is a difficult question. Something healthy…. Apple? Orange?

Biomass + Bathwater = Greener Games. November 19, 2009

Posted by sallylester in Celebrity, Current affairs, environmentalism, Olympics 2012, Sport.
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Millions of lightbulbs, loudspeakers, big screens, not to mention a giant flame… The Olympic games is a black hole of energy consumption and where that energy comes from is an issue of extreme importance if the UK is to lead the way in reduction of greenhouse gases as Boris Johnson would have us believe.

A state of art energy centre is being constructed in the Olympic park to solve all of our energy problems. The centre which is being branded by Olympic officials as “Lean, Mean and Green” is going to reduce the carbon emissions of the games by over 1000 tonnes in 2012 and is even being praised by Greenpeace.

It is to be housed primarily inside an old Victorian building which would have otherwise stood derelict. This ultimate show of recycling is truly a step in the right direction and proves that the Olympic committee have really listen to environmentalists who were concerned that London 2012 would leave more than just a sporting legacy lingering over the city.

The proposed energy centre

ODA Director of Infrastructure and Utilities Simon Wright said: “Sustainability is at the heart of the 2012 project and the Energy Centre will ensure a lasting legacy of green power in the Olympic Park for generations to come. The state-of-the-art Energy Centre will be one of the largest in the UK and the lean, mean and green sustainability features that underpin this project will set a model for future urban regeneration schemes.”

Biomass boilers will use sustainable biomass fuels to generate heat, contributing to a 20 per cent renewable energy target across Olympic Park and zero carbon renewable energy sources used such as biofuel. Of course both of these things are important and exciting new developments but the idea which really captured my imagination was the waste water scheme which proposes that waste water from the Olympic park and village will be used to cool the energy centre.

This means that the water used in the pool that Michael Phelps swam to gold in could then help to light the arena in which Chris Hoy powers to victory. The water that Usain Bolt’s pots and pans were washed in could then help run the timer that records his new world record.

An exciting prospect, no? And if it helps the environment and the green credentials of the games then this new power plant really should be given more publicity.

The centre is due to be completed in Spring 2010.

All going swimmingly. November 18, 2009

Posted by sallylester in Current affairs, Olympics 2012, Sport.
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The roof for the 2012 aquatics centre was hoisted into place this week marking a significant milestone for the building process.

The building which is set to be the entrance-way to the Olympic Park and one of the crowning glories of the build started to take shape when the wave shaped roof was slowly lifted into position on Wednesday.

Aquatics centre

An artist's impression of the 2012 Aquatics Centre whose roof is in place this week

The roof, which weighs in at over 3000 tonnes and is 160 metres in length was described as the “most complex engineering and construction challenges” in the Olympic Park, and it’s positioning means that the aquatics centre is on schedule and in budget. Good news for all of us.

Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) Chief Executive David Higgins said: “The Aquatics Centre will be a new landmark building for east London and will offer elite and community swimming and diving facilities in legacy.”

While London Mayor Boris Johnson commented: “Not only does the Aquatics Centre act as a benchmark for the amazing pace of delivery on the 2012 Games, but along with the Stadium, it also provides an early taste of the truly fantastic legacy that is already rising out of the Olympic Park.”

So all’s well in the world of watersports. The sailing venue in Weymouth and Portland Harbour is ready for action and the aquatics centre is progressing well.

This little island’s hopes lie with making waves. Ben Ainslie, Rebecca Adlington and Nick Dempsey. England Expects; and will be supporting from the sidelines. Just hoping British Olympians can make the same splash that they did in Beijing.

Like a bat out of Blackwall. November 16, 2009

Posted by sallylester in Current affairs, environmentalism, Olympics 2012, Sport.
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We’re all used to seeing urban foxes and our fair share of feathered friends on the streets of London. They seem to have adapted to city life without much effort but as building for London 2012 continues to spread like wildfire over East London the question has to be asked… Where do the former inhabitants go when the athletes move in?

As with any new development, environmentalists have involved themselves (quite rightly) and thankfully the Olympic Organising committee agree that protecting the flora and fauna of the local area is a matter of importance.

Praise where praise is due.

Saying that you are going to do something and actually doing it are different things however. The official Olympic website is this week promoting the fact that they have installed “three of the 150 bat boxes and eight of the planned 525 bird boxes,” within the Olympic Park’s pumping station.

bats1

Bats are under threat from the new development

Three out of 150. That’s a measly 2%. And that’s an even better percentage than the birds are getting. Considering the change to the London skyline and the damage to the eco-systems that have already taken place these efforts are pretty poor.

England’s green fields are one of the things that makes us special and the idea of the Olympic Park being a sort of urban jungle will set the 2012 games apart from the likes of Beijing where the focus was on manmade materials like glass and metal. Bird boxes are the new Bird’s Nest Stadium don’t-you-know.

If the biodiversity action plan is actually put into action then the Olympic Park will be a beacon of garden goodness. The alternative is not even something to be considered.

Ticket troubles. November 15, 2009

Posted by sallylester in Current affairs, Olympics 2012, Sport.
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Roll up! Roll up! For the greatest sporting show on Earth. But be careful because the tickets scammers are on the loose already; selling fraudulent tickets and trying to trick sportsfans out of their hard-earned pounds.

Consumer group Which? have released warnings to those looking to buy tickets for London 2012. Several fake ticket websites have been launched in recent months and with website hosting largely unregulated and incredibly cheap there are big profits to be had for anyone willing to cheat and lie their way into the wallets of the unsuspecting British public.

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Tickets for London 2012 are set to be like Golddust

The London Organising Comittee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) are apparantly trying their best to have the fraudulent websites shut down and prosecute those behind the crime, but with everyone looking for cheap tickets it’s easy to see why the public are lured into unofficial ticket sources.

It is thought that one in twelve ticket buyers are conned by fake ticket websites and with the Games’ high profile this means that thousands of people will be out of pocket and thoroughly disappointed. Not the best public image for the Olympic Games, but maybe it’s unavoidable?

The truth of the matter is that no tickets for the games are on sale yet. We all have to play a waiting game to see if we’ll be able to witness these great athletes compete in what promise to be stunning new stadiums and arenas.

Anyone too impatient will more than likely be left out in the cold without a sportswear-clad-leg to stand on.

Sex, lies and CCTV. November 7, 2009

Posted by sallylester in Uncategorized.
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Potential for embarrassment, finance issues and traffic are all incredibly valid reasons to be skeptical about the Olympic Games coming to London in 2012, but dig a little deeper and darker, more sinister problems lurk in the shadows, looking to taint the wholesome name of the Olympiad.

Prostitution and gun crime.

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A sight which could become increasingly common on Britain's streets.

They may not be the first problems that jump to mind, but they are the complications being discussed by ministers in the House of Commons in recent weeks. And if it’s got even Alan Campbell – Labour MP for Tynemouth and Parliamentary under-secretary a little hot under the collar then maybe it’s something that we should be giving a little more of our attention.

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood raised the issue of increased ownership of firearms in the UK due to a rise in popularity of shooting sports. On asking how many potential competitors in the 2012 Olympics had been granted firearm licences under section five of the firearms act (1968) he received the answer 15. This is not to suggest that these 15 extra firearms in the hands of the trained sportsmen and women are a threat, but it does raise questions of security should the guns be stolen or misplaced.

Increased prostitution in 2012 as thousands of tourists flock to our shores is a very real problem. Visitors looking for thrills outside of the exciting sporting events may provide unprecedented levels of custom for prostitutes and lure for young girls, desperate for money into the sex trade. Labour MP John Austin raised the issue in the House of Commons this week, calling for precautions to be put in place top help safeguard these girls and police areas where 2012 tourism will be at its peak.

It beggars belief that an event as wholesome and well-respected at the Olympic games could spawn such horrible crimes. We heard nothing of this sort from Beijing last year, and we can but hope that London can follow in that vein.