Edition number 50; dateline 3 May 2011

Take your seats
One might have guessed that everything would get left to the last Olympic minute, by potential spectators if not the Games’ organisers, but it seems that it has all just about worked out in the end. Having been given five weeks to get their bids for London 2012 tickets sorted, a huge number of people waited until two hours before the deadline to try to sort out their applications. LOCOG had to extend the deadline for an hour after their system crashed, largely, it is rumoured, as a result of everyone having forgotten their passwords. When the dawn broke punters had applied for 20 million tickets, half of the event sessions in all sports will require a ballot and 95% of those bidding for tickets were from the UK. More importantly, Seb Coe pronounced himself “thrilled”. Track cycling, rhythmic gymnastics, triathlon, modern pentathlon and cross-country equestrianism became the first events to sell out, along with the opening and closing ceremonies. Tickets still unsold after this initial application process will be made available in June and July. Thereafter LOCOG will be putting its faith in its anti-touting provisions.

Once more unto the arts end
The Olympic Delivery Authority has announced a new permanent piece of public art that will be installed in the north of the Olympic Park later this year. The work, by Monica Bonvicini, comprises three nine-metre-tall letters forming the word ‘RUN’ and is described by the ODA as a “sculpture… made of glass and stainless steel, producing a mirrored affect that will change depending on the light and time of the day”. Mirror by day, illuminated and transparent by night, the work will serve to remind visitors to the park that there is nothing so facile as bad public art.

GLL celebrate getting Brazilians
GLL, which has its origins in the London borough of Greenwich, have secured a contract with the Brazilian Olympic Committee that will see real legacy benefits for local people as Crystal Palace National Sports Centre becomes the Games base for much of Team Brazil. The HQ will operate throughout the build up to and during the Olympic Games period, from 10 July to 13 August 2012 and Brazilian Olympic Committee president Carlos Arthur Nuzman told TLR, “Signing this historic agreement is a major step in the preparation plans for Team Brazil in 2012, while also laying the foundations for Brazil’s planning for the 2016 Games.”  With volleyball, beach volleyball, handball, basketball, taekwondo, boxing, athletics, swimming, and diving competitors all based at the centre there is every chance of Crystal Palace hosting medal contenders. Peter Bundey, GLL director, is delighted to have sealed the deal: “This is a fantastic opportunity to embrace the Olympic message in the local community as well as to forge international links with the host nation for 2016. We are confident that Crystal Palace will deliver the ideal base for Brazil’s top-class athletes.”

Clubs change up in Cheshire and Merseyside
Merseyside Sports Partnership, in association with Cheshire and Warrington Sports Partnership and the CHAMPS public health network, has launched the Change4Life Club Charter to help sports clubs to use the messages and resources of the Change4Life campaign to both improve the health of their members and the clubs relationship with their local community. The initiative follows a survey that revealed 91% of the clubs had not accessed the available resources. Change4Life is a social marketing campaign designed to change the nation’s eating habits and encourage more active lifestyles. This pilot project will use Department of Health funding to help clubs promote their activities to members and “reach out to their community”.

Boris adds one of his names to social sport campaign
In his role as mayor of London Boris Johnson has given his support to the Sport for Social Change Network (SSCN), a global sports initiative working to promote and develop community sport. The SSCN, which operates in Brazil, South Africa and East Africa, has a number of affiliated sites across London and Johnson recently dropped into the latest addition to the list, the new Sutton SSCN at the Life Centre. Visiting the Life Centre accompanied by Olympic hopeful and British Women’s 100 metres record holder, Montell Douglas, and Olympic swimming medallist Steve Parry, Johnson commented: “There are thousands of excellent sports groups in the capital that struggle with a myriad of problems and sadly many of them will face closure if they don’t get help.  SSCN will provide the essential support needed to boost these schemes, keeping them in business and securing a long and fruitful future.” The SSCN aims to coordinate efforts in community sport to accelerate the growth, quality and sustainability of the sport for social change movement. After a successful pilot in Lambeth the SSCN scheme is now running across six boroughs – Brent, Croydon, Hackney, Lambeth, Southwark and Sutton – and also works on cross-borough partnerships. The aim is to have one in every borough within the next few years. The scheme is funded in partnership with Nike as part of the Mayor’s £15.5 million sports legacy scheme.

Pulse win Bury contract
Cheshire-based provider of fitness equipment, Pulse, has won the contract to supply fitness equipment and supporting services to Bury Council. The contract will see Pulse installing over 150 pieces of equipment from its cardiovascular and resistance equipment ranges in three sites in Bury - Castle Leisure Centre, Ramsbottom Pool and Fitness Centre, and Radcliffe Pool and Fitness Centre. Greg Martin of Bury Leisure said: "We were looking for a supplier who not only had the best product line but who could also support us to promote our new leisure portfolio to the wider community as part of our commitment to a healthier Bury."

News just in (by the skin of its teeth)
The SATS group, Europe’s second largest health and fitness chain which has more than 140 clubs across Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, will be buying all of its cardio equipment from Precor for the next 12 months; the contract makes SATS group Precor EMEA’s biggest chain customer. Following a million-pound, twelve-week refurbishment of a railway arch, Fitness4less has opened a new 20,000 sq ft club in Southwark, London.

London 2012: the gold rush
The British Olympic Association and LOCOG have come to an agreement following the BOA’s legal action. Following what was generally regarded as a climb-down by the BOA, their chief executive, Andy Hunt, said, “We appreciate the spirit of partnership and cooperation that LOCOG brought to our discussions”. The last of 180,000 tiles lining the competition pool, the training pools and the dive pool in the London 2012 aquatic centre was laid by Parlaympian swimmer Liz Johnson. The contract to record the 205 national anthems required for the London 2012 Games ceremonies has been won by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Who knew that the Olympic Games would require an “official mining and metals provider”? It’s Rio Tinto, the fortieth domestic sponsor signed up for London 2012. Delancey & Qatari Diar, Hutchison Whampoa Limited and Wellcome Trust have been short-listed to submit best and final offers for the purchase and long-term management of the Olympic Village.


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With spring bursting out all over to produce an unseasonally Mediterranean feel to an East London Easter, it seems that work is officially “well underway” towards creating the 250 acres of parklands that will serve as one of the Olympic Park’s key environmental legacies. More than 1,500 trees have been planted, along with thousands of wetlands plants. The site, which will become the largest new urban park in the UK for over a century when the Games have finished, includes 15,000 square metres of riverside spectator lawns, timber seating, frog ponds, loggeries, wetlands, woodlands and tree-lined footpaths. As well as a mile-long road cycling track, lawns and amphitheatrical bowls, the new park will also include two hectares of allotments.
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Friday 13 May
What a good idea: political blogger Iain Dale reckons the heat has gone out of blogging and is therefore setting up an online magazine. The government’s cellar is to be rationalised with the sale of some of its most valuable wine and the purchase of plenty of the more drinkable variety.

Saturday 14 May
A good day for Manchester: United take the title, City takes the Cup. Tetiaroa, the Tahitian island owned by Marlon Brando estate, is to be turned into a luxury eco-hotel.

Sunday 15 May
The Butterfly Conservation charity is warning of the damage government spending cuts will do to the environment, not least to the revival of butterfly species. The Ernst and Young Item Club, an economic thinktank, predicts a decade of hardship for high street retailers. West Ham are relegated and their manager, Avram Grant, is sacked in the tunnel immediately after the game. Twickenham, home of the continuously beleaguered Rugby Football Union, has had its rateable value reassessed, saving the RFU the difference between £5 million and the new charge, £2.6 million.

Monday 16 May
Millions brace themselves as the payments for London 2012 tickets begin to be taken from accounts. A retrospective of the work of Tracey Emin opens at the Hayward in London. A report commissioned by English Heritage says that plans to redevelop Liverpool’s northern docks with high-rise buildings could threaten the city’s world heritage status. The RFU start an investigation into the behaviour of Leicester’s director of rugby and head coach, who were haranguing the referee throughout a recent match. Ai Weiwei, still detained by the authorities in China, is visited by his wife. In Russia some commentators are critical of the imagery being used to promote the 2014 Winter Olympics, which is said to be quasi-fascist in its design. Kenyan Olympic athlete Sammy Wanjiru dies after falling from a balcony at his home in Kenya.

Tuesday 17 May
The Queen visits Ireland, the first visit by a British monarch to the republic for 90 years. The English National Opera is to stage The Death of Klinghoffer, described as “probably the most controversial piece of the last 50 years”. Julian Eccles, director of marketing and communications at the FA, resigns after less than a year in post. Silverstone opens its new pit lane complex after a £28-million upgrade but Bernie does not deign to put in an appearance. Mark Cavendish wins the tenth stage of the Giro d’Italia.

Wednesday 18 May
The decision to award the £60,000 Man Booker International prize to Philip Roth prompts the resignation of one of the judges, Carmen Callil. Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 9.1 million people in the UK are non-white, around one sixth of the population. Film-maker Lars Von Trier mentions that he has some sympathy with Hitler during a press conference at the Cannes film festival. The London 2012 velodrome makes the long list for the RIBA Stirling Prize, while LOCOG reveals the route that the Olympic torch will take around the UK next year. In Wakefield a new gallery, the Hepworth Wakefield, is opened. Analysis of the 2009-10 accounts of the 20 Premier League clubs reveals a total turnover of £2.1 billion, a wage bill of £1.3 billion, losses totalling £484 million and debts totalling £2.5 billion. Lord Coe defends the 2012 ticketing process; “This is not chopped liver,” he says helpfully. Manu Tuilagi, who plays rugby for Leicester, is banned for five weeks following what has been described as a “spectacular assault” on Northampton’s Chris Ashton during a match; Ashton received three punches but Tuilagi’s ban was halved from an initial ten weeks on the grounds that Ashton had pushed him a bit.

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