India's Sports Ministry has warned the country's National Olympic Committee not to help Suresh Kalmadi travel to London 2012 after the disgraced former head of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi was given permission to attend the event.

Kalmadi, currently at the centre of corruption allegations linked to Delhi 2010, was granted permission by a court in New Delhi to leave India and visit London as long as he lodged a bond in case he failed to return.

But India's Sports Minister Ajay Maken has contacted Randhir Singh, secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), claiming that Kalmadi does not deserve to be allowed to visit the Olympics.

The Ministry claimed that since Kalmadi is embroiled in corruption cases, IOA should not support Kalmadi's trip.

Kalmadi had been the President of the IOA since 1996 but was effectively sacked in April 2011 and replaced by V K Malhotra, the head of the country's archery federation, after a court ordered him to be held in custody on corruption charges.

Kalmadi has been been charged by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly "illegally" awarding contract to install timing, scoring and results system for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to Swiss Timing.

But he has since been released on bail and, in his his plea to Special CBI Judge Talwant Singh, Kalmadi had said that he is a member of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council and Asian Athletics Association and sought permission to come to the Olympics.

Among the evidence that Kalmadi presented as part of his evidence was an invitation from the IAAF Council and details of an airline sent to him by Essar Gabriel, the secretary general of the IAAF.

But the Ministry immediately tried to block the trip.

"Taking into consideration the serious charges levelled against Kalmadi in the matters relating to conduct of the Commonwealth Games 2010 and that the court is still seized of the matter, the Ministry requests that the IOA, on ethical grounds, should not facilitate or sponsor the visit of Kalmadi to London in any manner including air travel, lodging and boarding in London and giving tickets for witnessing the Opening and Closing ceremonies and sports competitions of the London Olympics, 2012," the Ministry said in a letter written by Onkar Kedia, its joint Secretary.

"The IOA should also take up this issue with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and the IAAF, particularly, in the light of the fact that visit of Kalmadi to London Olympics, before corruption charges against him are cleared by the court, would defy the 'fundamental principles of Olympism'as enshrined in the 'Olympic Charter'."

By Duncan Mackay at the Main Press Centre on the Olympic Park in London


Sebastian Coe claimed here today that he remained unconcerned by the late issues that are overshadowing the final countdown to London 2012 as he was given a boost by the main road from Heathrow Airport into the capital reopening ahead of schedule.

The M4 link reopened today to enable athletes and officials to travel into London less than 24 hours after officials had warned that they could not guarantee to carry out repair work so that it would be operational by Monday (July 16) when the first Olympic Route Network (ORN) is due to become operational.

It was some relief for the London 2012 chairman who has had to deal with the unexpected disruption along with concerns over security following the revelation that 3,500 troops were being drafted in because of a shortfall caused by contractor G4S failing to meet contractual requirements.

In addition O2, one of Britain's biggest mobile phone networks, has suffered severe connection problems and it has continued to rain in what is already the wettest summer on record.

"It's sort of what happens," Coe said of the last-minute issues with only two weeks left until the Opening Ceremony on July 27.

"We will get there.

"These will be fantastic Games.

"I've got complete confidence in our teams to deliver this.

"We will work on security, we will work on transport, as we [will] do on all the other projects...right up until there is no more time or place to go."

The decision to reopen the M4 could take a lot of the pressure off Coe (pictured) and London 2012 officials.

There had been initial fears that it would not be repaired in time and the Olympic rings had been painted on an alternative route in case it was not fixed in time.

But the six mile section between junctions two and three on M4 has now repaired sufficiently to allow Olympic athletes and officials to use it, although 7.5 tonne-plus vehicles are still banned.

"They will exclude articulated lorries and many coaches but Olympic family vehicles will be exempt to get the athletes and their equipment through," said Peter Hendy, the Commissioner of Transport for London.

London's preparations have been backed to come good by Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee.

"This is not peculiar to London, we have always had difficulties in the time leading up to the Games, this is something that does not worry us, it will be fine by the time of the Opening Ceremony," he said.

"We have been informed that the security will not be affected by this.

"It will have to be solved by [London 2012] and the Government but we are very optimistic that all the provisions will be taken."

But both Rogge and Coe admitted that there is nothing they can do about the weather.

"I don't have a hotline to the Almighty," said Coe.

"On occasions, over the last few months, I really wished I had, but clearly he hasn't been listening to me thus far."


By Duncan Mackay at the Main Press Centre on the Olympic Park in London


Brazilian star Neymar insists they have what it takes to bring back Olympic football gold for the first time in history this summer.

The Santos forward (pictured top) will be the man most want to see this summer at the football tournament, after starring for his club team in recent years as they have won the Brazilian Championship and Copa Libertadores.

Unpredictable, skilful and two footed, with the kind of playground-style dribbling ability which is the hallmark of the game of Argentine star Leo Messi, London could be where Neymar announces his arrival on the world stage at last.

But he is insistent that he is not the star of Mano Menezes' team, and that others have an equally crucial role to play.

"I think we all are fundamental and have a role," said the Santos man to

"Everyone is important.

"Those who are called are the representatives of all who have participated and we need together to strengthen and unite."

Particularly key will be the experienced trio of Hulk (pictured above, in yellow), Thiago Silva and Marcelo, the three players over the age of 23 whom Menezes selected last week.

Menezes is under huge pressure this summer as the last competitive action Brazil will get before the World Cup they host in 2014.

Recent reports have suggested that Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, rejected the chance to take the reins of the national team, suggesting a lack of faith in Menezes on the part of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

That may have been exacerbated by recent friendly defeats to Mexico and Argentina.

Neymar says, though, that the team will go to London as the favourites for gold.

"I think Brazil, in any competition that comes in, is a favourite.

"It always does.

"And we have a very good selection, with lots of potential."

-David Gold


G4S has revealed tonight that it stands to lose up to £50 million ($78 million/€64 million) after 3,500 military personnel had to be drafted into provide security for London 2012 because the company failed to meet its contractual obligations.

The Crawley-based firm said that it accepted the additional cost of the extra military personnel, and would see a loss on the contract of between £35 million and £50 million ($55 million/€45 million and $78 million/€64 million).

Home Secretary Theresa May was this week forced to ask the Ministry of Defence to provide more troops after the contractor admitted it did not have enough staff.

The company has a £284 million ($442 million/€361 million) contract with London 2012 to provide 10,400 security guards for the Olympic Games, but only 4,000 guards are trained and ready.

"We are deeply disappointed that we have not been able to fully deliver against our contract with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and that it has been necessary to call upon the additional military personnel," said Nick Buckles (pictured), the chief executive of G4S.

"The company is entering the final stages of an extremely complex workforce supply contract which is on an unprecedented scale.

"We have recently encountered significant difficulties in processing applicants in sufficient numbers through the necessary training, vetting and accreditation procedures.

"As a result, we will be unable to deliver all of the necessary workforce numbers.

"We have worked very closely with LOCOG throughout the build up.

"At the point we felt that we could no longer assure the scale of the security workforce we had committed to, we advised them of the situation.

"In partnership with the military and LOCOG, we are working flat out around the clock to resolve the situation.

"We are determined that together we will deliver a successful and secure Games."

Shares in the company were down 1.5 per cent when markets closed today, meaning more than £150 million ($234 million/€191 million) has been wiped from its market value over the past two days.

G4S is the world's largest security company and employs more than 667,000 people in 125 countries.

But there is no sympathy for the situation the company finds itself in, especially as some of the military called into have had to cancel leave despite having only recently returned from active duty in Afghanistan.

"We do not underestimate the impact on the military personnel and their families and express our appreciation to them," said Buckles.

"G4S accepts its responsibility for the additional cost of the increased military deployment resulting from the shortfall in workforce delivery."

By Duncan Mackay at the Main Press Centre on the Olympic Park in London



With the Olympics just two weeks away, embarrassing logistical problems about security, staff, phones and traffic made the mood yesterday in London as gloomy as the weather.

British lawmakers clamoured for an explanation of why the armed forces need to field 3,500 more troops to protect the games, eclipsing the day that US track star Michael Johnson held the Olympic flame aloft at sunrise at the ancient monument at Stonehenge.

London's ageing infrastructure kept offering up unpleasant surprises as the main road near Heathrow Airport remained closed following emergency repairs. The British mobile phone company O2, meanwhile, acknowledged that thousands of customers had been affected by outages on its network—a bad omen ahead of the first iPhone games.

And then there was the weather. Rain on and off and on again.

London's Hyde Park—the site of outdoor concerts and other live events—has trucked in piles of wood chips to cover a muddy quagmire after the wettest June on record. Someone apparently decided that recreating Woodstock wasn't very Olympic-friendly.

Here's a look at the tsunami of bad news.


British Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed that the government will deploy an additional 3,500 servicemen at the London Olympics amid concerns that a private security contractor had failed to recruit enough staff. The firm G4S had been enlisted to provide the bulk of the 13,200 private security guards across 100 Olympic venues.

British lawmakers questioned why the apparent gap in security had surfaced so late.

"G4S have let the country down and we have literally had to send in the troops," said opposition Labour Party lawmaker Keith Vaz, demanding to know when the issue was first identified and if G4S—which has millions in contracts from the British government—will suffer any financial penalties.

The move brings the total number of armed forces staff at the games to 17,000, dwarfing the 9,500 troops Britain has in Afghanistan.

The massive Olympic security operation also will feature 12,000 police, 3,000 volunteers, Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts.


The British media has been full of bad news lately about the queue, that long line at passport control while entering the island nation.

Those lines have been blamed on everything from airline schedules to too much wind, but everyone is looking for a way to bring the wait down. More people than ever used London's Heathrow Airport last year—nearly 70 million passengers– straining its traditional immigration desks.

A report from John Vine, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, warned that border staff with only basic training and little immigration experience were being used to cut the length of the queues.

But the Home Office insists help is on the way. Starting this weekend, 500 more people will be manning those desks.


London's ageing transport network continued to befuddle planners who have been working–some for years–to get the city spruced up for the games and for the hundreds of thousands of tourists expected.

The main road linking Heathrow to London and Olympic Park remained closed. The Highways Agency said repairs had reached a critical stage and would continue on a damaged overpass at least until the weekend.

But the big question mark remains as to whether the entire London transport infrastructure can handle the strain. The city's residents are accustomed to overcrowding and delays but tourists may find it shocking, said Tony Travers, a transport expert at the London School of Economics.

"At this point, we're in the lap of the gods," Travers said. "The London infrastructure is always led on a wing and a prayer."


The gloomy weather has the entire nation wondering if it will ever get sunny for longer than 15 minutes. The Met Office, Britain's national forecaster, has insisted that the wet start to July does not necessarily mean that it will rain during the Olympics, from July 27 to August 12.

"We could have some nice days," Met spokesman Dan Williams said, somewhat hopefully, although stressing it was still too early to offer any Olympic forecasts.

"It's understandable that people might feel gloomy, especially since we have had such a disappointing run this month," he admitted.



The scariest development for many has been a mobile phone outage.

British mobile phone company O2 restored its 2G and 3G services after a breakdown that hit some customers for as long as 24 hours Wednesday and yesterday.

That's not a good omen for the vast amounts of tweets and photos expected to be sent during what has been dubbed the "Twitter Games." Those responsible for London's fibre optic cables, phone masts and Wi-Fi hotspots are bracing for a tsunami of data.

O2 executives have said previously the company spent 50 million pounds (US$79 million) on Olympic-related projects.



Historians like to note that with any human endeavour, things go wrong. Martin Polley, an Olympic historian at the University of Southampton, recalled that in the 1948 London Games, organisers forgot to get a union flag for the home team to carry into the stadium. Roger Bannister, who later shattered the four-minute mile, broke into a car to get one for the parade.

So is Jacques Rogge, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), worried about the spate of bad news? Absolutely not.

"It's not peculiar for London. We've always had difficulties in the days leading up to the games in the previous games and the games were of an impeccable nature," he said.

Besides, there's still time to sort things out.

"We're confident that everything will be fine by the opening ceremony," Rogge said.

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