Commonwealth Games: End of Victoria's idyll: Protest plan

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AS EVER, the host city has been spruced up for a major event and this time it is Victoria in British Columbia that emerges highly polished for tomorrow's Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, writes Richard Wetherell. Befitting its description of home to the newly-wed and the nearly dead, the city, population 200,000, has an Olde England feel with its tea shops, clipped hedges and a theatre showing that olde classic No Sex Please, We're British.

However, not all is idyllic in the city of brightly coloured flower beds. Greenpeace is planning demonstrations to protest the exploitation of the Vancouver Island rain forests. The organisers, billing the Games as environmentally friendly, counter this with a recycling programme and their mascot - a cartoon killer whale.

Not enough, say Greenpeace.

After introducing the word 'greenwashing' to the world,

Tamara Stark, the group's spokesman, said: 'The war on the woods is continuing, and we'll be doing everything we can to ensure the public doesn't buy into their message.'

Protests will not be limited to exploitation of the land. Planned demonstrations will seek to protect oceans and to highlight women's poverty. Opposition to the monarchy and the very nature of the Commonwealth will be prominent.

Scotland got in their share of pre- Games shadow-boxing, when their complaint over the badminton seedings was dismissed. Their appeal to Games officials and the International Badminton Federation forced a 24-hour delay in the draw after none of their players was seeded for the individual events.

But it was not all bad news for Scotland. Their wrestler Graeme English has been told that his rash, contracted soon after arriving in Canada, is not contagious and he is hopeful of competing on Friday.

Paul Bush, England's swimming manager, also let loose a few jabs as he dismissed Australia's claim that they would sweep the pool clean, not a bad trick, and collect all 34 gold medals. 'No one is a sure-fire bet for gold,' he said. 'The rankings mean something, but they don't mean everything.'

Udeme Ekpenyong, the Nigerian 400m runner, was sent home when drugs believed to be steroids were found in his luggage as he tried to enter Canada.