Olympic Shorts: Mayor rolls out red carpet for Mr and Mrs Murdoch

Boris Johnson will take Rupert Murdoch as his personal guest to the Games on Friday. The Mayor of London is due to accompany the News International media mogul to the Aquatic Centre to see Rebecca Adlington defend her 800m freestyle swimming title.

Mr Murdoch, shunned by most political leaders since the phone-hacking scandal broke, will be at the poolside with his wife, Wendi Deng, and business leaders. The visit is part of Mr Johnson's drive to use the Games to promote London and encourage investment.

Sources close to the Mayor said he was "very comfortable" about being photographed with the tycoon. He is understood to regard Mr Murdoch as an important supporter of British sports through initiatives such as sponsorship of Team Sky cyclists, including Bradley Wiggins. A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: "The Mayor has always said he would use the Games to shamelessly promote London as the leading business hub in Europe ."

In 2010, Mr Johnson described phone-hacking allegations as "codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party" and a "song and dance about nothing". He later said he "misunderstood the severity of the allegations".In an interview in March, he said: "I don't regard [Mr Murdoch] as quite the satanic influence that some do. He did a great deal to set the newspaper industry free."

Basketball star's wife turns to retail therapy

Retailers in London's West End have seen a decline in footfall since attention turned eastwards, but thankfully one determined shopper seems keen to revive their fortunes. No, not Mary Portas but Vanessa Bryant, wife of the US basketball player Kobe Bryant. Not renowned as a spendthrift, she took to Bond Street clutching a red Chanel purse and emerged from one designer store with a bag of goodies so large it could accommodate a small child. Mrs Bryant, who is in London with their two young daughters for a fortnight, is reportedly "furious" with her husband and "embarrassed" after he was pictured chatting shirtless to two women at a nightclub in Barcelona last week.

Swimmers father gives unpredictable interview

The father of the South African swimmer who beat Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly gave a gloriously unpredictable interview to the BBC's Clare Balding yesterday. Bert Le Clos, father of 20-year-old Chad Le Clos, was dragged to a poolside spot after his son's tearful medal ceremony. Seconds later, the producers surely wished they hadn't. Speaking in gruff, Afrikaans-accented English, and sweating profusely, Mr Le Clos ignored Balding's questions. "I've never been so happy in my life," he said. Defeating her attempts to rein him in, he rambled: "Wow. Look at him. And he's beautiful. Look at this. What a beautiful boy."

When asked about his family, Mr Le Clos also took the chance to make Lord Coe's day a little bit worse. "My other son is here, the small one. I can't find him. We're all over the place. It's not easy to get tickets."

Country of the day – San Marino

The Most Serene Republic of San Marino is only 24 miles square, surrounded entirely by Italy, and has only 31,000 inhabitants, yet it has competed in 12 summer Olympics since 1960 (though without ever winning a medal). This surely qualifies it for the adjective we British often apply to such tiny nations: plucky. This year, San Marino has sent a team of four, kitted out by the Italian fashion label Salvatore Ferragamo, no less.