Police officers stand guard inside the Olympic Park in London
Police officers stand guard inside the Olympic Park in London, Monday, July 23, 2012. Opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympics will be held Friday, July 27.
Take it back?
When is a gold medalist not a gold medalist anymore? When the IOC says so. The body is looking into medal winners from past Olympics after a pair of doping issues have cropped up. The Associated Press reports that cycling road-race time trial gold medalist Tyler Hamilton will be stripped of his gold from the 2004 Athens Games after admitting in a 2011 interview that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. That sparked the investigation that could hand retired Russian rider Viatcheslav Ekimov the gold. On the heels of that, the IOC is looking into Italian race walker Alex Schwazer’s2008 gold medal from the Beijing Games. Schwazer was already expelled from London for doping, leading to a potential retesting of his Beijing samples.
Wait for it
You can look at it two ways. First, maybe Sally Pearson just had some extra time to soak in the moment – and spend time with London Olympics organizing chief Sebastian Coe. Or maybe she was denied the chance to immediately revel in her glory. Either way, the fact is 100-meter hurdles winner Pearson had to wait about 40 minutes for her medal ceremony while the long jump final and men’s decathlon 400-meter heats concluded the evening program. Coe says officials “didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the competition,” though some fans might have left and missed the moment. On Sunday, American Sanya Richards-Ross received her 400-meter gold medal in a half-full stadium. There are no reports of either woman crying over her treatment, though.
Boy, did things get out of hand in the men’s basketball arena. With time running out, and Spain taking France down, Frenchman Nicolas Batum (right) decided to take things into his own hands. Perhaps the French should consider adding him to the boxing lineup for the next games after the shot he delivered. Batum vented his frustration by intentionally delivering a blow to the groin of Spain’s Juan Carlos Navarro. According to Yahoo.com, when asked about the low blow, Batum said, “I wanted to give him a good reason to flop,” apparently referencing his belief that Spain intentionally lost to Brazil earlier in pool play to avoid being in Team USA's bracket in the medal rounds. Well, that explains it.
OK, so there is crying in the Olympics. The latest to shed tears? None other than headliner Lolo Jones. The track star’s media-darling status came under fire when articles of a more negative nature, and comments about her using the Olympics to build her brand, became more prevalent in the days before she took to the track. And then, when it mattered the most, she failed to come through, finishing fourth in the 100-meter hurdles by one-tenth of a second. A day later, Jones showed the toll the games had taken when she broke down on NBC's "Today" show. Tears flowed as Jones pointed to a critical article, saying negative press had “ripped me to shreds” just before her event and indicated it was unfair she had to deal with backlash after suffering heartbreak in her event. One must wonder, though, with her race looming and pressure mounting, why was Jones reading articles about herself at all?
For border nations, there’s clearly no love lost between the US and Canadian women’s soccer teams. Canada proved to be more than just sore losers after falling to the US in the final minute of extra time, 4-3. The Canadians were upset with the referee when goalkeeper Erin McLeod was called for holding the ball too long, which led to the final goal by the US. And they let it be known, with one player insinuating that the game was a fix. Now, the governing body of soccer is considering disciplinary action after the comments made by the players and — perhaps worse — the coach. So much for friendly rivals. Or, for that matter, the spirit of the games.
Seven Cameroon athletes completed their games, then left the Olympic Village (pictured) in unusual fashion. The five boxers, a swimmer and soccer player have United Kingdom visas that would allow them to stay in the country for six months — and it appears that just may be their intent. But the Cameroon delegation is far from panicking. As it turns out, this isn’t a new issue for the African nation. Other athletes from the country left their Olympic squads in Melbourne and Athens. Don't look for politicking to bring the athletes back home, though. Press attache Emmanuel Tataw took it all in stride. His response: ''Most of the time they don't come back.”
There are acceptable ways to root against athletes one doesn’t favor, but that does not include throwing a plastic bottle onto the track prior to a race (see background in photo). Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organizing committee, in discussing an incident involving just that during the highly anticipated 100-meter showdown won by Usain Bolt, said there would be “zero tolerance” for such. However, no bad deed goes unpunished. The fan accused of launching the bottle apparently was dealt with, as Dutch judo bronze medalist Edith Bosch, who happened to be sitting there, “hit him on the back with the flat of my hand.''
American judo fighter Nick Delpopolo has been expelled from the Olympics for doping. Delpopolo didn’t argue the charge, instead fessing up in unusual fashion. He says the result was “caused by my inadvertent consumption of food that I did not realize had been baked with marijuana'' prior to the games. He’ll leave with the dubious distinction of being the first athlete at the games to fail an in-competition drug test — and perhaps a greater awareness of what’s in his food in the future.
Yep, another day, another athlete in trouble for not trying. Fresh off the badminton scandal comes Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi — who, after winning his 1,500 semifinal, found his team had failed to withdraw him from the 800-meter race in time for Sunday’s deadline, according to a Reuters report. The 24-year-old lined up for the heat, fell way behind the field before the back straight and then stopped running and walked across the infield about 100 meters later. The referee concluded that failed to meet the standards of a “bona fide effort” and excluded him. But this time there's a twist. He had one shot to get back in the games — a medical certificate from a local doctor. And he got just that, with the ruling that he had a knee injury. He was subsequently reinstated.
Athletes behaving badly
It’s well documented how Olympians tend to cut loose after their competition closes. But Australian rower Josh Booth apparently got a little too loose with his cutting. Hours after his event was completed, the 21-year-old was detained by police for causing damage to a storefront in an alcohol-related incident.
We're talking about badminton?
Who knew badminton would become such a hot topic at the London games? But a good, juicy scandal is always fodder for conversation. And Wednesday’s was a doozy. Eight players — two doubles teams from South Korea and one each from Indonesia and China, the latter team including the reigning world champion — were expelled from the Olympics after tanking qualifying matches so egregiously that the fans in attendance started booing.
'Detrimental to the sport'
Thomas Lund, chief operating officer of the Badminton World Federation, announces the elimination Wednesday of eight female badminton doubles players at the Olympics. The federation punished them for "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport" in matches Tuesday night.
At least you tried, sort of
The expelled badminton players aren’t the only Olympians who aren’t giving their best efforts. In a women’s soccer match against South Africa, Japan’s coach Norio Sasaki, apparently instructed his players not to go for the winner during the second half because a 0-0 draw would allow them to remain in Cardiff for their quarterfinal match. “Before the game I did not tell the players to draw the match, but if we had a situation during the game – we might have some kind of an instruction to draw the game and it happened like that,” Sasaki said.
Are you blind?!
Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser of U.S. men's volleyball defeated Spain on Tuesday, but a controversial call in the match might have been the difference. When Todd Rogers of the U.S. team attempted a block, the ball hit his chest and was then batted back up. The referee contended that it was all done in one motion and, therefore, was a legal hit. (Two motions on such a play would be a violation.) Pablo Herrera, pictured at right, from the Spanish team argued the call and was eventually issued a yellow card. Spain went on to lose the match to the U.S. ALSO: Check out more athlete bios.
She can’t be that fast, can she?
After 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen blew away the women’s field in the 400 individual medley — swimming the final 50 meters faster than men’s 400 IM winner Ryan Lochte — the rumors started rumbling that Ye might be swimming with assistance. Then the US executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association came right out and said it to the Daily Mail: “Any time someone has looked like superwoman in the history of our sport, they have later been found guilty of doping.” The IOC defended Ye, saying she passed a drug test after the event, but that isn't likely to quell the controversy. ALSO: Check out more athlete bios.
As if failing to medal in the 10m synchronized diving competition wasn’t bad enough, British diver Tom Daley had to deal with a 17-year-old taunting him about his dead father on Twitter. Dorset police confirmed that the teenager was arrested Tuesday morning and held on suspicion of malicious communications. Daley’s father, Rob, died last year after losing his fight with brain cancer. ALSO: Check out more athlete bios.
Got a light?
First, the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games were criticized for placing the Olympic cauldron in a particularly poor vantage point. Then LOCOG took some PR heat for extinguishing the flame to move the cauldron. On the plus side? At least they didn’t relight it with a Zippo.
Yeah, that’s the ticket
Olympic tickets have been particularly difficult to come by in London, but at the same time, venues from swimming to soccer have been populated by an abnormally large number of empty seats. It’s difficult to reconcile those two realities and it’s proven to be both a huge embarrassment for LOCOG officials and a source of great frustration for Olympic fans.
Another day, another Twitter controversy
On Monday, the Swiss Olympic Committee made men's soccer player Michel Morganella the second athlete to be expelled from the Olympics for making racist comments on Twitter. One day after the Swiss lost to South Korea, Morganella made disparaging comments about South Koreans -- since deleted -- on his Twitter account. That's worthy of a red card.
God save the queen from boredom
Yeah, the Opening Ceremonies lasted way too long. But you’d think a head of state would be experienced at feigning interest during boring official events. Not Queen Elizabeth II. As Team Great Britain finally made its way into the Olympic Stadium, Her Royal Highness was captured on camera looking positively disinterested in anything save her fingernails.
Hope a dope
Back in America, Hope Solo made news with the revelation the team was drunk on the Today Show set after winning gold in ’08. Before the Games even began, it came out that her soon-to-be-released biography claims she was conceived during a conjugal visit in prison. And then she started a Twitter war with broadcaster and former soccer great Brandi Chastain. ALSO: Check out more athlete bios.
Don’t be a dip
Being chosen to carry the American flag should have been a career highlight for two-time gold medalist Mariel Zagunis. Instead, through no fault of her own, she was embroiled in a mini-controversy over whether it was appropriate for her to follow custom and dip the flag as she passed in front of the queen. Following the guidelines of the USOC, she didn’t dip … and it turned out most people didn’t care.
What a twit
We knew the first true social Olympics were going to result in a problem or two. But we didn’t foresee an indiscrete tweet costing an athlete the opportunity to even compete. Before the Games officially began, Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was sent home for making inappropriate remarks on Twitter about African immigrants in her home country.
Where did I put my keys?
Everyone’s lost their car keys at one time or another. But given the legitimate concerns about security that have surrounded these Games, you’d think officials would keep closer tabs on the keys to Olympic venues. But security staff apparently has lost a set to Wembley Stadium in what one official told the Daily Mail was the “mother of all cock ups.”
A no-no from Lolo
Maybe Lolo Jones should resume talking exclusively about her love life … or lack thereof, as the case may be. Just eight days after one of the worst gun tragedy in U.S. history, Jones said in a tweet that it was understandable that we came up short in archery, given our American heritage, then asking, ”When’s da Gun shooting competition?”
The start of only the second event of the Games – a women’s soccer game between North Korea and Colombia – was delayed for almost an hour when the North Korea players refused to take the pitch. The reason? An introductory video before the match featured the South Korean flag. North Korean head coach Gun Sin Ui would later stress the adverse effects it could have on the team and its coaches if they were to take the field under the wrong flag and went even so far to suggest that the mistake might have been intentional.
A Mitt fit
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney frequently touts his Olympic experience on the campaign trail (he led the hosting efforts for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City), but the 2012 Games have been less than kind to Romney. First, he ran afoul of London officials for questioning the city’s security preparations for the Olympics. Then he compounded that faux pas by referring to the “backside” of 10 Downing Street and forgetting the name of Labor Party head Ed Miliband, calling him “Mr. Leader.”
The sound of silence
So there was a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies, but it wasn’t the one that many observers had been clamoring for. The victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks that killed 52 and injured more than 770 were commemorated during Danny Boyle’s extravaganza. But the Munich 11 widows’ hope that the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches would be appropriately recognized by the IOC during the ceremony went unmet.