Inside Lines: London warning over new torch run

Click to follow
The Independent Online

You would not wish it on your worst enemy, but there is no doubt the earthquake, and its aftermath, in China has taken the heat off the Beijing torch relay. It means there is less chance of human rights protesters being shot in Tibet – as the authorities threatened – when the torch is carried there this month. The leg has been reduced from three days to one as the Chinese scale down the global relay, which has been marred by demos, notably in London, since it began on 24 March. It is due in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, on 18 June and it will be interesting to see whether protests are muted following worldwide sympathy over the earthquake and the uncharacteristic openness shown by China over its reporting. This, claim the IOC, would not have happened but for the Olympics. A Chinese delegation visit London this week to discuss a repeat of the torch run here on 31 August prior to the Paralympics, and despite the ugly scenes which characterised its earlier appearance it seems likely a lower-key event will get the go-ahead. But the Chinese will be warned that the role of the tracksuited Chinese minders, labelled "thugs" by Lord Coe, must be curtailed.

Why 2012 is pin money for Chinese

The Olympic Torch is not the only made-in-China product causing controversy in London. Despite bids by many British manufacturers, 2012 Games organisers have given a multimillion-pound contract to a Chinese company to design, produce and distribute souvenir pin badges. According to, the organising committee say Beijing-based Honav "provide the best solution to our requirements". Traditionally these tiny Olympic pins become worth hundreds of pounds as collectors' items. An obvious target for eBay watchers.

Diving's Ant and Dec are double act

Blake Aldridge is the Ant to Tom Daley's Dec, and as with all double acts the straight man often gets shoved out of the spotlight. So it was last week when tiny Tom, at just 14 British sport's most celebrated child prodigy, again monopolised the headlines and the camera lenses for his part in claiming Britain's first-ever World Series synchro diving gold in Sheffield. But sharing the perfect 10 on the 10-metre platform was Aldridge, 25, who understandably sighs: "People seem to forget there are two of us." Aldridge is used to being in Daley's shadow, but should the performance be repeated in Beijing – the duo's selection now seems a formality – one trusts it will be remembered that it takes two to tango, to tandem and to make a splash simultaneously.

Football gives Panathlon a kickstart

The good news is that the Panathlon, the popular multi-sports schools event kicked into touch last year in the Government's game of political football, has been thrown a lifeline – by football. Funding of £240,000 from the Football Foundation means that disabled kids in London can be given more sporting opportunities over the next three years. With the new London Sports Commissioner Kate Hoey supportive, the outlook for the Panathlon is brighter. However, the Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, disappointingly for a grass-roots man, has yet to respond to the Panathlon's plea for help.

Uphill task for downhiller Chemmy

Having shaken the snow off her skis after a successful season scooting down mountains, Chemmy Alcott sets off today to climb up one. With her friend Julia Mancuso, the US Olympic gold medallist, the British No 1 begins an eight-day expedition to scale Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in aid of the children's charity Right to Play.