BBC BLOGS - David Bond

Archives for July 2012

Those empty seats: Is there a solution?

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David Bond | 17:24 UK time, Sunday, 29 July 2012

For the members of the public who tried in vain to get Olympic tickets during the various ballots, the sight of empty seats on television after the first full day of competition must be baffling and irritating in the extreme.

London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe insists it won't be an issue throughout the Games but adds that he totally understands people's frustrations and is working hard to ensure the seats are filled.

So why are there empty seats?

Locog says the seating areas are not for general members of the public or for sponsors but are set aside for accredited members of the so-called Olympic family. This includes International Olympic Committee members and officials, representatives from international sports federations and national Olympic committees, athletes, coaches and team officials and, not forgetting us, the media.

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Cavendish and co disappoint in road race

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David Bond | 21:10 UK time, Saturday, 28 July 2012

The disappointment on The Mall was palpable.

In the VIP seats London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe and Mayor Boris Johnson looked a bit downbeat. The Prime Minister David Cameron, all poised to do celebratory interviews with the media, suddenly became unavailable.

For months now Mark Cavendish and the road race has been built up as the real Olympic opening ceremony.

So to come in 29th was hardly the start Team GB and the organisers wanted.

To criticise Dave Brailsford's British cycling team for not delivering is clearly ridiculous. No other sport has consistently produced like cycling has over the last few years.

But something clearly went wrong for the 'Dream Team' on the 250km circuit.

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After seven years, London 2012 makes the start line

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David Bond | 14:34 UK time, Friday, 27 July 2012

For years now we have questioned the costs, cast a sceptical eye at the legacy promises and even scratched our heads at the gaudy logo.

But as a hazy, overcast dawn broke over London this morning and the torch made its way down the Thames, it was impossible to ignore the growing sense of collective national excitement.

Sure there have been problems, some in the last few weeks and days. Mitt Romney may have been spectacularly chided by Boris Johnson yesterday but he was only giving voice to the concerns which we ourselves have expressed.

Today doesn't feel like the right moment for such cynicism.

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Bolt admits it's been harder to smile

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David Bond | 21:03 UK time, Thursday, 26 July 2012

A year ago, I interviewed Usain Bolt before the World Championships in Daegu. He was at his strutting, confident best, telling anyone who cared to ask that he was ready to become a legend.

We all know what happened next. He false-started in the 100m and was disqualified, raising questions about his temperament. Then just last month he was beaten over 100m and 200m in the Jamaican trials by training partner and friend Yohan Blake, the man who inherited his world title in South Korea.

On top of all that, questions over Bolt's fitness have continued to dog his preparations for London 2012 as he attempts to defend the Olympic sprint titles he won in Beijing.

It is perhaps no surprise then that I found a slightly more humble Bolt when I interviewed him on Thursday evening, just a day before he was due to carry the Jamaican flag at the opening ceremony.

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New test helps authorities fight drugs at Olympics

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David Bond | 18:04 UK time, Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The spectre of drugs is never far away from the build-up to any Olympic Games.

In Athens in 2004 the Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou were at the centre of one of the biggest doping scandals in history when they were thrown out of their home Olympics for failing to comply with the testers. They were even accused of faking a motorbike crash as they tried to evade the officials.

Then in Beijing four years ago seven Russian athletes were thrown out of the Games a week before the opening ceremony.

So far London has been relatively untouched by the most familiar of Olympic scourges.

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Rogge gives Games organisers cause to be confident

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David Bond | 20:58 UK time, Monday, 23 July 2012

The IOC president Jacques Rogge is not a man given to hyperbole. In fact he has steadfastly refused to follow his predecessor Juan Antonio Samaranch by passing judgement on Olympic hosts.

In his interview with the BBC Rogge said he would not be making an exception for London by calling their Games the greatest ever - no matter how well things go over the next three weeks.

But his clear confidence in London's preparations should give a slightly battle weary Sebastian Coe and his team a huge lift as they enter the final days before the Games.

For Lord Coe and organising body Locog this is perhaps the most frantic period of the last seven years. They are under enormous pressure and, as the security fiasco with G4S showed, blunders will be held up for the harshest scrutiny.

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London 2012: Olympics legacy hard to define

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David Bond | 11:42 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

How much will the Olympics be worth?

Over the last week or so there has been a variety of forecasts trying to assess the economic boost London and the UK will get from staging the Games.

This always happens before every major sporting event and it should come as no surprise that the Prime Minister David Cameron should want to try and offset the argument about the costs of the Games by talking up the benefits.

He claimed last week the number would be £13bn, outweighing the public sector funding package of £9.3bn. Incidentally according to the very latest figures, it looks like coming in at just under £9bn.

It all sounds very impressive. Until you start to look at the numbers more closely.

Much of it is aspirational rather than definitive. While the PM says he is "confident", there can't be any certainty that these figures will actually be achieved.

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London 2012: Security forces get ready for Games

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David Bond | 10:27 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2012

Over the next few days London will see a steady increase in military deployments ahead of the start of the Games.

All this is designed as a show of force to deter anyone planning to disrupt the Olympics and to reassure athletes, officials and spectators that London is safe.

But the last-minute decision to call up another 3,500 members of the armed forces to fill a hole left by London 2012's private security contractor G4S sends another message to the world - one of panic planning and disorganisation.

The Government and organisers will say this is all part of the fine tuning that happens in the last few days before the Games.

However, they have had seven years to scope security plans for the venues.

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Murray's Wimbledon final defeat only the beginning

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David Bond | 09:27 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2012

At Wimbledon

Andy Murray may not have won Wimbledon but his raw, tearful display at the end of his defeat by Roger Federer might turn out to be a breakthrough of another sort.

Admired rather than loved, there were times during yesterday's final when support for Murray on Centre Court seemed muted. Rightly or wrongly, he has a dour image which fails to reflect how much it all means for him.

Choked and unable to speak at the end of the match, that impression has changed now - possibly forever. This felt like the moment when sceptical "middle England", used to the more polite, familiar tones of Tim Henman, finally took the 25-year-old to their heart.

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Glazers are going nowhere

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David Bond | 11:21 UK time, Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The most significant line in Manchester United's extremely lengthy filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission is the club's admission that heavy indebtedness poses a risk to future financial success.

This is what critics of the club's American owners, the Glazer family, have been saying ever since they borrowed £525m to complete their £790m takeover in 2005.

Since then over £500m has flowed out of United to service interest and debts charges. And yet the debts still stand at £423m, according to figures up to the end of March.

So the Glazers' public admission that they need to reduce their debts is a significant moment. The timing is all the more intriguing as it comes after a season which saw their neighbours and rivals Manchester City take the Premier League trophy from them on a thrilling final day.

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