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  • Brits promise more fun in 2012


    (The Australian) BRITISH Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell has promised that London will host the "fun Olympics" in 2012 amid mounting criticism that Beijing has become the no-fun Games. A combination of high heat, heavy rain and Communist Party oppression has resulted in a lot of unhappy foreigner and locals in the Olympic capital.

    Spectators have been drenched waiting for transport, there are no public live sites, ordinary Chinese have been excluded from the Olympic domain, the torch relay and the opening ceremony and there are no taxis after dark because of traffic restrictions.

    Australian spectators watching Michael Diamond compete in the final of the trap shooting on Sunday were as drenched as the competitors.

    After only a few days in the Olympic city, Jowell has learned many lessons from her Beijing experience, which included having t o stand in the pouring rain with crowds for half an hour seeking transport after Sunday night's basketball because the Olympic subway was closed.

    "London will be great fun," Jowell said in Beijing yesterday.

    "We will have live sites throughout London."

    Olympic veteran Ed Hula, editor of the Olympic internet newsletter, said yesterday the Olympics were occurring in a void.

    "There has been nobody on the common domain during the first few days of the Games," he said
    "There's sort of a void.

    "The same thing in downtown Beijing. Tiananmen Square closes in the evening. There seems to be no gathering point."

    Hula said he hoped there would be more "vitality" and "fun" at the London Games.

    Beijing organisers appear more concerned with security and controlling access to parks, venues and preventing any anti-China protests. While the Bird's Nest stadium looks good on television, the opening ceremony was conducted in oppressive heat because the semi-enclosed bowl allows little ventilation.

    The murder of an American tourist and the attack on his wife in a popular area of town has also made other visitors to the Olympic city more concerned about their own security while visiting popular tourist sites.

    There are also too few spectators at some events, with many tickets given to sponsors apparently not being used, resulting in blocks of empty seats.

    Chinese spectators are not encouraged to be spontaneous.

    An 800,000-strong army of students provide the atmosphere at the Games venues. They chant "Jiayou Zhongguo" (Let's go China), and "Jiayou Aoyunhui" (Let's go Olympics) in unison.

    Up to a million Games tickets have been distributed to students for 10 yuan, or just under $2. In return, the students have had to learn the official four-step Olympic cheer.

    It starts with a double clap and a chant of "Olympics", moves on to a thumbs-up with arms pointing skywards and a chant of "Let's go", then another double clap and a cheer of "China", and finally fists are punched in the air to a shout of "Let's go".

    The chant was devised by the Spiritual Civilisation Development Office of the Chinese Communist Party, the Ministry of Education and the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee.

    Ms Jowell said there would be special ticketing arrangements for the London Olympic Games so that if spectators left events early, their tickets could be recycled.

    "We will maximise spectator access," she said. "If people leave before the events are finished, your ticket will go back into a pool (which can be given to other waiting spectators).

    "London is a city of fun and there will be lots of fun for people who come during the Games."