Inside Lines: IOC pressure as Athens faces final countdown

Tension tightens in Athens, not only because of last week's bomb blasts but because tomorrow sees the final visit of the International Olympic Committee's Co-ordination Commission. This multi-national team, which includes Britain's Craig Reedie, will demand fresh assurances that the Greeks will make it to the starting tape on 13 August. The progress chasers, led by Swiss lawyer Denis Oswald, will be in more than their earlier knuckle-wrapping mode if they feel the lingering delays could affect either safety or performances. The probability is that they will pronounce themselves satisfied that it can be done - just. Both Reedie and his BOA chief executive Simon Clegg, who was in Athens last weekend, support that view. Clegg also insists that the bombings would not change the security strategy for Team GB, which has been planned "with meticulous detail". As we report in the News section, the United States are considering housing some of their "Dream Team" basketball superstars on board the liner Queen Ma

Tension tightens in Athens, not only because of last week's bomb blasts but because tomorrow sees the final visit of the International Olympic Committee's Co-ordination Commission. This multi-national team, which includes Britain's Craig Reedie, will demand fresh assurances that the Greeks will make it to the starting tape on 13 August. The progress chasers, led by Swiss lawyer Denis Oswald, will be in more than their earlier knuckle-wrapping mode if they feel the lingering delays could affect either safety or performances. The probability is that they will pronounce themselves satisfied that it can be done - just. Both Reedie and his BOA chief executive Simon Clegg, who was in Athens last weekend, support that view. Clegg also insists that the bombings would not change the security strategy for Team GB, which has been planned "with meticulous detail". As we report in the News section, the United States are considering housing some of their "Dream Team" basketball superstars on board the liner Queen Mary II, which is to be used as a high-level security floating hotel for VIPs and heads of state, berthed in Piraeus, rather than the Olympic Village. And the Australians say they will have two jets standing by to evacuate their athletes in the event of a terrorist attack. Last week we reported how the new Greek minister in charge of security has authorised round-the-clock armed guards for "high-risk" nations including Britain. Clegg declines to discuss any special arrangements for the 292-strong GB team, all of whom will stay in the village, but you can be sure that wherever British athletes go, British minders won't be far behind. And they are likely to be more SAS than Group 4.

Will the new lord be succeeded by a lady?

Now that Home Secretary Jack Straw's great buddy Patrick Carter has been elevated to the House of Lords as a "working peer", how much longer will he remain as the chairman of Sport England? The word in Westminster is that he is likely to be fast-tracked into a ministerial role which would enable him to sort out the prisons crisis. He is currently a member of the Home Office General Board and is also a former non-executive director of the prison service. If he does become a minister, Straw's best man and old Brentwood School chum would have to step down from the chair at Sport England, where his cost-cutting zeal has brought about massive redundancies (though salaries of senior executives have increased). Could his departure pave the way for another Goverment favourite, Sue Campbell, interim chair of UK Sport, to take over in a move that conveniently might result in marriage between the two quangos? Meantime as Carter leapfrogs it to the Lords, outspoken predecessor Trevor Brooking still remains curiously unknighted. Why?

London calls in the swooper troopers

There may be just 95 days left before lift-off (or lift-on, as far the roof is concerned) in Athens but London has a D-Day fast approaching, too. Nine days from now the IOC will decide in Lausanne whether the capital has made the cut for the 2012 Games bid. Not to do so would be a shock of seismic proportions, but nothing can be taken for granted. Which is why all the stops are being pulled out to show the world that London can handle all the troublesome baggage that comes with the Games, not least transportation of spectators and athletes. Thus a corps of what are termed "swoopers", experts involved in previous Games, have been called in to advise on transport plans which have an ambitious look about them. Wish them luck. The Circle Line was closed again yesterday.

An impressive assembly of the great, the good and the deserving will carry the Olympic Torch through London on Saturday 26 June, starting at Wimbledon with Tim Henman and ending 11 boroughs later in The Mall with, one might guess, Sir Steve Redgrave or Sir Roger Bannister.

Along the 48km route, spectators will see old flames such as Ian Botham, Frank Bruno, Audley Harrison, Matthew Pinsent, Sally Gunnell, Michael Watson and Sir Richard Branson. But one big name is missing from the line-up. What, no Jonny Wilkinson? Apparently, England's rugby hero and Sports Personality of the Year was invited, but declined because of the possibility of his involvement in the Test series Down Under. Pity. But the BOA's Simon Clegg promises "a staggering day". And for one ageing, paunchy hack it will be - literally. Yours truly has been asked to "run" a leg as Athens will be my 10th Olympics. Torch bearer? Let's hope there's a stretcher bearer handy!

Jonny Wilkinson is not only a non-runner in the Olympic Torch Relay, but he is also looking like a no-show for Monday's Laureus Awards.

His name appears on the shortlist but not the guest list which suggests he does not fancy his chances too much of winning one of sport's annual "Oscars" ahead of the likes of Michael Schumacher and Lance Armstrong. This year's event, featuring the usual A-list glitterati of sport and showbiz, has been switched from Monte Carlo to Estoril, where no doubt Portugal's security muscles will be flexed ahead of next month's Euro 2004 finals. Muhammad Ali won't be there, but his amazing 800-page book "G.O.A.T - Greatest Of All Time", which weighs 54kg and costs £2,000, will be auctioned for charity.

insidelines@independent.co.uk

Exit Lines

I don't care if he never wins Wimbledon, or if he never achieves anything else in life, but I wasn't going to have him portrayed as someone who isn't straight. Lucy Rusedski on why she stood by her man... They should call him "Magician", not "Rocket". I thought that was a salad. Ray Reardon, who coached Ronnie O'Sullivan to the world snooker championship... Things are not bad, they're beyond belief. Supporters chairman Ian Ramsay after East Stirling, with the worst record in Britain, lost their 24th successive game.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence