Tuesday Apr 09, 201305:40 PM GMT
Britain and the Olympics legacy
Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:51AM
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Britain won the bid to stage the Olympics on the basis of an extraordinary promise of a lasting legacy but doubts have been raised if many of these aims will be realised.


There have also been controversies, including the refusal to change the date during Ramadan affecting some 3,000 Muslim athletes and thousands more spectators and volunteers.

Muslim spectators and volunteers will not be able to enjoy the festivities like other participants as they will not be able to drink nor eat during the long fast.

Fasting during Ramadan has a unique significance, with Muslims praying and sharing the pangs of hunger together during the blessed month but it has left a dilemma for Muslim athletes, most of whom will not be able to fast with Muslims throughout the globe.

Many such athletes were upset with the dates of the games but did not want to discuss their views on record given the threat to a defining moment in their career.

The London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) could have taken up the issue with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the host country.

Such a request would have shown respect for more than 20 per cent of the world’s inhabitants and endorse the UK’s commitment to cultural diversity. It would also have shown that Olympics which represents the world’s five continents is truly representative of all on an equal basis and not become just another mega-commercial venture as some critics claim.

The date is not cast in stone as proved by the decision to delay the start in Beijing to the middle of August to avoid the hot weather. Previous Olympics, like in Australia and South Korea, were not held until mid-September, and in Mexico, they started in October.

Meanwhile, due to the spectrum of terrorism being raised, Muslims have already being warned of facing wrongful arrest during Olympics as happened to five street cleaners during the Pope’s visit. This is despite the government’s independent reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation being adamant that any detentions must be based upon reasonable suspicion.

A lot of consternation has also been caused by the stationing of missiles on civilian rooftops, which David Anderson said he was also taking up with the government. “It does seem rather a strong measure to take,” he said, questioning which power was used to make the controversial decision.

The Olympics is a truly worldwide movement that should be free from politics and commercial interests. It should be the gathering of people from all countries participating and attending in the original spirit of the games.

However, Argentina has decided not to send its president to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in a diplomatic snub to Britain at a time of growing tensions over the Falkland Islands.

The Foreign Office has boasted that London 2012 will attract more heads of state and foreign dignitaries than any other previous Olympic tournament. But Argentine president Cristina Fern?ndez de Kirchner will be conspicuous only by her absence.

Britain has been continuing to occupy Afghanistan as a sovereign nation as part of the U.S.-led war against the country. The country is threatening to wage war against another sovereign nation, Syria, which is embroiled in an insurgency-hit dilemma.

Fifty “VVIP” guests will have the best seats in the house in Britain’s biggest ever gathering of dignitaries at Friday’s opening ceremony.

International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge will host the Queen, Prime Minister David Cameron, London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Olympics high command in the inner sanctum of the grandstand.

They will take their seats for the show at 9pm on Friday in a stadium packed with the elite, including more than 100 heads of state, in the largest meeting of “very, very important people” that London has ever seen.

Among them will be US First Lady Michelle Obama and Brazil’s first woman prime minister Dilma Rousseff.

Controversial characters attending Danny Boyle’s show will include Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev, Bahrain’s Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa and Rwandan president Paul Kagame.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has cancer, will not attend and Russian president Vladimir Putin is likely to snub the ceremony - but will attend the Games to watch judo.

General Mowaffak Joumaa, head of Syria’s National Olympic Committee, is believed to have been barred.

Britain has been urged to deny entry to the head of Bahrain's Olympic committee - the son of the king - on the grounds of alleged involvement in serious human rights violations in the Persian Gulf island state.

Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa is claimed to have been "personally engaged" in beating, flogging and kicking pro-democracy protestors during Bahrain's brief chapter in the Arab spring last year.

Documents submitted to Prime Minister David Cameron and William Hague, the foreign secretary, and seen by the Guardian, describe how Sheikh Nasser launched "a punitive campaign to repress Bahraini athletes who had demonstrated their support for the peaceful pro-democracy movement.

MOL/HE
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