With the Opening Ceremony fast approaching, the second day of sport at London 2012 proved as eventful as the first. Another day of footballing action, the arrival of international political stars and more drugs scandal ensured the Olympics stayed firmly rooted in the headlines.
On the political side, Britain welcomed Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, and first lady, Michelle Obama, to its shores – not together, naturally. Romney wasted no time in ruffling feathers, claiming to have seen ”disconcerting” signs about the sufficiency of the nation’s Olympic preparation. Unsurprisingly, Michelle Obama’s visit was rather more civilised: coming as the figurehead of the US Presidential Delegation to the lavish Opening Ceremony in place of her husband. Her visit had an almost royal ring to it, as she caught up with Samantha Cameron, visited US athletes and touched base with members of the US Military.
…easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere…
Meanwhile, Prime Minister, David Cameron, was in Stratford to stoke London 2012 fever, revealing his hope that the Olympics will be “a Games that lifts up our city, lifts up our country and lifts up the world, bringing people together”. He also took the opportunity to get a neat dig back at Romney for his earlier indiscretion, pointing out that preparations such as these are “easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere”; a clear hint at Romney’s involvement in the 2002 Utah Winter Olympics.
The issues of injuries reared its ugly head once more to threaten the prospects of another GB athlete: Paul Radcliffe. The injury-stricken 38 year old has never medalled at an Olympics after failing to complete in Athens, and finishing 23rd in Beijing after hurting her leg. Asked whether she would be in a state to compete despite a foot injury, athletics head coach, Charles van Commenee, replied darkly: “Shall we flip a coin? Paula is Paula.”
…it looks like the Olympic spirit hasn’t quite touched the hearts of everyone…
The question of performance-enhancing drugs was also back on the menu, with two more athletes now banned from competing in the Games. Greek high jumper, Dimitrios Chondrokoukis, is out after testing positive for stanozolol, while Zoltan Kovago, a discus thrower from Hungary, will also be excluded after being given a two year doping ban.
On the pitch, it was the men’s turn to kick-start the Olympic football tournament, with a flurry of matches at venues across the country. Spain’s 1-0 defeat to Japan provided the biggest shock of the day, with the Spaniards having been second favourites to win gold and boasting three of their Euro 2012 stars in the side. Elsewhere, Brazil defeated Egypt despite the losing side almost managing to push them to a draw; the final score ending 3-2. Great Britain looked set to repeat the success of their female counterparts as they headed into halftime 1-0 up against Senegal. But a skilful finish and equalising goal from Moussa Konate cancelled out Craig Bellamy’s first-half goal and denied GB the win.
To close on a rather Scrooge-like note, it looks like the Olympic spirit hasn’t quite touched the hearts of everyone. Musician, Bob Geldof, told ITV he was taking a holiday during the Games, because he was sick of the disruption. He did, however, concede that the Olympics had done wonders for the East End. “That was a pretty crap part of town, no matter what anyone says”, he told the Associated Press. “Now it’s nice.” Well said, Bob.