Inside Lines: 'Tarzan' may be new 2012 watchdog
Sunday 15 June 2008
As can be judged from the exclusive interview on these pages, it has not taken long for Boris Johnson to get his feet under the 2012 Olympic table – and start thumping it, which could put him on a collision course with Games planners and the Government. When the new mayor chaired his first meeting of the Olympic Board last week he made it clear there will be a tightening of belts and purse strings, indicating that some planning had been "pretty unrealistic and would have cost taxpayers a lot of money". Closer to home he is reducing the number of City Hall delegates travelling to Beijing, and like himself they will be flying economy. He is also scrapping plans for 18 Gordon Ramsay-trained chefs to provide gourmet catering at 2012's Beijing hospitality base, London House. Johnson is setting up a unit of business experts to help make the Games cost-effective. The Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross has already been brought in to keep an eye on the costs, and we hear that Lord Michael Heseltine, aka "Tarzan", Johnson's predecessor as Tory MP for Henley, is favoured to play akey role on this new Games watchdog body.
Blair eyeing World Cup leadership bid?
With the FA seeking a "charismatic" front man for England's 2018 World Cup bid, it cannot have escaped their attention that former prime minister Tony Blair is climbing aboard the sporting bandwagon. As the "chief ambassador" of a global initiative called Beyond Sport, which seems to have been set up as a rival to the Laureus Awards, he could be well placed for the role. Intriguing, as before he stepped down Blair privately had made it known that he so enjoyed the Olympic bid that he would not be averse to leading England's World Cup campaign.
'Funtime' gets set for the big-time
Amir Khan plans to be in Beijing as cheerleader to Britain's eight-strong Olympic boxing squad. That's seven more than in Athens, when the then 17-year-old Khan was Team GB's lone ring ranger. "It's brilliant that we've got so many medal chances," says Khan. "They're all my mates." One, Frankie Gavin, used to be his room-mate and spar-mate and could soon become his stablemate. "Funtime" Frankie occupies Khan's lightweight berth and is fancied to improve on the silver medal Khan won in Athens. Britain's first world amateur champion will be turning pro after the Games, and the word is he will be joining Frank Warren's Sports Network stable, alongside Khan. Imagine the money they could make for fighting each other if Gavin wins gold.
Arsenal give the dogs a toilet break
Arsenal have a reputation for being among the fan-friendliest of Premier League clubs, not least for their disabled supporters. But how's this for public convenience? The Gunners are to provide toilet facilities for guide dogs, an area where owners can take them to do their business. "Guide dogs are essential for getting their owners to and from the match and it is important they feel as comfortable as possible and benefit from having a quiet area to answer the call of nature," say the National Association of Disabled Supporters. So, no more cocking a leg against the goalpost, Rover.
Matter of bad timing for Chambers
A mischievous thought occurs amid Dwain Chambers' quest for an Olympic qualifying time. Could the timing mechanisms not be set a tad slow so that he never achieves it? Cheating, of course, but that's something with which Chambers is familiar. He says he "remains positive", which surely had the testers uncorking their bottles yesterday.
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