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#Romneyshambles: 'Some Americans just shouldn't leave the country', says Carl Lewis

"Stay home if you don't know what to say," says nine-times gold medal winning sprinter
  • @jerometaylor

Former American sprinter and gold medal winner Carl Lewis today waded into the row over Mitt Romney's comments about London's preparedness for the Olympics.

Lewis, who won 10 Olympic medals including 9 gold during his career, criticised the presidential candidate for suggesting London may not be ready for the Olympics.

Mr Romney faced widespread criticism and mockery yesterday for his comments - and for seemingly forgetting the Labour leader Ed Miliband's name during a press conference.

Much of the criticism came from the social networking site Twitter - with many users tagging comments about Romney with the hashtag #romneyshambles.

Carl Lewis, who spoke to The Independent as the First Lady, Michelle Obama, arrived in London to lead the US delegation, said: "Every Olympics is ready, I don't care whatever he [Romney] said. I swear, sometimes I think some Americans shouldn't leave the country. Are you kidding me, stay home if you don't know what to say."

Mr Romney - who has faced criticism in the US as well as in the UK for his comments - met with Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour Leader Ed Miliband yesterday.

He also held meetings with George Osborne, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, former PM Tony Blair and MI6 chief Sir John Sawers.

Speaking to NBC news ahead of yesterday's meetings Mr Romney had risked offending his British hosts when asked about London's preparedness for the Olympics. He said: “It's hard to know just how well it will turn out.

“The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials - that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

He also questioned the British enthusiasm for the Olympics, asking: "Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin."

He appeared later to backtrack on his earlier comments, saying of the security issues and the error over the North Korean team flag: "It is impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur,"

"Of course there will be errors from time to time, but those are all overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes."

“The Games are, after all, about the athletes, the volunteers and the people of the community who come together to celebrate those athletes.

“As soon as the Games begin, we all forget the organisers and focus on the athletes.”

Romney also faced further embarrassment after he appeared to forget the name of Labour Leader Ed Miliband during a press conference.

Speaking with the leader of the opposition Romney said: "Like you, Mr Leader, I look forward to our conversations this morning ... and recognise, of course, the unique relationship that exists between our nations, our commitment to common values, our commitment to peace in the world and our desire to see a stronger and growing economy."

Carl Lewis also turned his attention today to the forthcoming sporting spectacle, telling The Independent that athletes should, "Forget about the games and just enjoy the ceremony. Tomorrow is when it all starts. Today they should enjoy it, meet people from other countries. Then tomorrow act like it's a normal competition."

US First Lady Michelle Obama also today gave her own personal good luck message to Team USA ahead of tonight's opening ceremony for the Olympics

 Mrs Obama urged America's athletes to "have fun, breathe a bit, but also win", as she met them at their training base in east London.

The First Lady is leading the US presidential delegation which includes a ringside seat at tonight's ceremony.