Olympic Shorts: Not a pint in sight at mountain bike course


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The Independent Online

The spectre of rain still looms over the London Games, but one venue, spectators might not be too happy to learn, will remain dry throughout.

Hadleigh Farm in Essex, where the mountain biking competition will take place, is the only one of 46 Olympic venues that will not be serving alcohol.

The site is owned by the Salvation Army, which only agreed to allow the Olympic event on the condition that booze be kept off the menu.

As with all Olympic venues, spectators cannot bring alcohol with them. "It's a bit of a shame," said Paul Douglas, from Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex, who bought four tickets to the event. "We'd been looking forward to a few beers in the sunshine. We had no idea. You see all these stories about it being seven quid a pint and all that, I guess we just thought there'd be a bar there."

Heineken have paid a multi-million sum for "sole pouring rights" at the Games, which has involved Marston's beer at Lord's and Pimm's at Wimbledon to be sold under generic names.

Protest for equality

Protesters gathered outside the Royal Opera House last night to demonstrate against discrimination in sport as delegates from the International Olympic Committee gathered for a crucial conference. Human rights groups are angry that while the Olympic Charter supposedly outlaws discrimination, it is being flouted by member states "with impunity".

They point to the example of Saudi Arabia which effectively bans any women from competing in its national teams.

Are Boyle's secrets still safe?

The Olympic Stadium held its first full costumed and technical rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony last night, and on the screens around the stadium the message remained the  same throughout: "Save  the surprise."

As Danny Boyle walked out on stage to the cheers from the near-capacity crowd, he told them:  "We can't show you everything tonight."

Indeed, there were plenty of holes in the performance that will be filled in on the night itself, but the spectacular light show that followed and some hundreds of people in full costumes left few in any doubt that it would be a hit.

Caroline Gooch, 30,  said: "It gave me goose bumps. Danny Boyle has done a great job."

Seventy-two-year-old Gillian Jones, who travelled from Winchester, said: "It was super. I knew about the 'green and pleasant land' [part of the ceremony], but after that everything was a surprise."

All Greek at the Games

An Olympic Ode in ancient Greek is to be engraved in bronze at the Olympic Park.

The text, composed by Dr Armand D'Angour, below, of Oxford University's Classics Faculty, was written for the London 2012 event.

It is written in the style of the poet Pindar and due to be engraved on a plaque.

D'Angour is preparing for the odd groan through the puns and references to modern sports stars such as sprinter Usain Bolt.

Little demand for renting

Residents of east London hoping to cash in on the Olympics by renting out their houses during the Games have been disappointed by a lack of demand. Some 89 per cent of home owners who advertised their properties as accommodation during the Olympics have been unsuccessful. "The supply has easily outstripped the demand," said Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom.co.uk, which carried out the research.

Plot to put out Olympic torch foiled

A protester armed with a bucket of water to douse the flame of the Olympic torch was stopped when officers were tipped off by spectators.

Sergeant Eric Stuart, of the Olympic Torch Relay Security Team, said: "Two weeks ago, officers were talking to a member of the crowd, asking if everything was all right.

"She said, 'Yes, apart from the guy at the back who's got a carrier bag with a bucket of water in'. His intention, we think, was either to douse the torch bearer or, more likely, put the flame out. He was intercepted well before he got anywhere near either of those."