Olympics

Athletes might be no-shows in opener

Rebecca Adlington
Rebecca Adlington and other British athletes might skip the 2012 opening ceremony in London.
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LONDON

Film director Danny Boyle's 2012 Olympic opening ceremony in London is in danger of losing its sparkle because the athletes he wants to place at the center of the show may not be in attendance.

The Oscar-winning director is fighting to avert a widespread boycott by British medal hopes who fear the marathon song-and-dance spectacle will sap their energy ahead of competition.

Coaches have already banned the entire British track and field squad from taking part in the London 2012 ceremony, even though they will not be competing until at least a week later. Britain's swimming team is likely to follow suit.

It means spectators who have paid as much as $3,280 for a ticket will almost certainly be deprived of seeing big names such as the heptathlete Jessica Ennis, the swimmer Rebecca Adlington and the teenage diver Tom Daley parade through the Olympic stadium, The Sunday (London) Times reported.

Phillips Idowu, the triple jumper, will also skip the event, while doubts remain over the attendance of Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, the Olympic cycling champions.

In previous opening ceremonies, athletes have been left standing around for up to eight hours as they are bussed to and from the Olympic stadium and herded into holding pens before they can take part in the traditional parade of national teams.

Faced with the prospect of a mass stay-away in London, Jonathan Edwards, the Olympic triple jump champion and the athletes' representative on the London 2012 board, pledged to reduce the amount of time competitors will be on their feet for Boyle's ceremony.

"We are talking of shaving not minutes, but hours off," he said. "If we can reduce the time, then certainly more athletes will consider (attending)."

Edwards pointed out that the athletes' village is only half a mile from the Olympic stadium; the 10,000 competitors will be asked to walk between the two venues rather than queue for a bus.

"The philosophy of the ceremony is to put athletes at the heart of it," said Edwards. "They will be integral to the narrative that Danny Boyle is putting together. . . . (He) wants to make the athletes stars of the show."

This Wednesday, one year before the opening ceremony, Boris Johnson, London's mayor, will join Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in Trafalgar Square to issue a formal invitation to the world's athletes to attend the 2012 Games. The designs for London's Olympic medals will also be unveiled, and Daley, 17, will make the first dive in the new aquatics center.

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