PM Brown arrives for a golden handover

From Barry Newcombe, SJA Chairman
Beijing, Thursday:
The US Open, which starts in New York on Monday with Rafael Nadal seeded top in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, means that two British tennis correspondents are leaving the Olympics before the finish. Mike Dickson of the Daily Mail heads back via London and then on to New York while Paul Newman of The Independent is on a monster 14-hour flight from Beijing.

“I leave Beijing at 3pm and arrive in New York at 5pm the same day,” he said.

â–¡ Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived in soggy Beijing this morning – predecessor Tony Blair and family have been in Beijing for several days – and his programme is certain to include meeting with many of Britain’s top medallists. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, is giving a briefing this evening at the London House (the hospitality venue that serves no London bitter). All are gathering ready for the London 2012 handover at the weekend.

â–¡ Some SJA members left at home in London have suggested having a social get-together this Sunday afternoon, to coincide with the mass Olympic Handover Party being staged in The Mall. Given the relative positions of Britain and Australia in the medal table, the meet could be staged in the themed Walkabout bar in Covent Garden.

Anyone wishing to attend should contact Steven Downes in advance.

â–¡ Chris Hoy is not unbeatable: that’s the headline news today, after the triple gold medal-winning Scot lost out in his bid to become Britain’s fourth member of the IOC, with a place on the Athletes’ Commission.

The cyclist, one of 29 candidates for the four positions, lost to South Korean taekwondo fighter Moon Dae-Sung, Russian swimmer Alexander Popov, German fencer Claudia Bokel and Cuban volleyball player Ruiz-Luaces Yumilka, who will all serve a term of eight years on the Commission which is chaired by former Namibian sprinter Frankie Fredericks, who succeeded Sergey Bubka earlier this month.

The 32-year-old from Edinburgh was seeking to join fellow Sir Craig Reedie, International Paralympic Committee president Sir Philip Craven and the Princess Royal as Britain’s fourth IOC member.

â–¡ The Beijing authorities have ejected 18 ticket touts and seven others have been detained on a sweep of ticket sellers outside the main stadiums. Police seized more than 600 tickets which were being offered at inflated prices.

â–¡ When those in the Press box stand as one to applaud and cheer at a sporting event, you know you’ve seen something very special indeed. Usain Bolt‘s magnificent world record performance in the 200 metres final on Wednesday night did just that.

Bolt’s 100m performance had been special enough but he was even more dominant at his preferred distance.

On his way to Beijing from Kingston, Bolt had passed through Heathrow airport without a second glance. That will surely be different on the return trip to Europe, where athletics meet promoters acknowledge the 22-year-old is now a massive draw card.

If anyone thought Michael Phelps was a shoo-in as the face of these Games, then they should think again. And Bolt may have at least one more gold medal before the Olympic flame is extinguished over the Bird’s Nest Stadium.

â–¡ Bolt is not Beijing’s only record-breaker. Your SJA website has been hitting new heights for the traffic it is attracting since the Olympics began, with more than 100,000 hits this week by Wednesday. Tuesday alone saw 33,423 hits on your website.

â–¡ Beijing has been a bonanza for the BBC, and Britain’s successful broadcasting figures ultimately could help international sports federations benefiting from up to £1 billion extra income from staging the 2012 Olympics in London.

BBC1 recorded its best performance for two years last week as its coverage of the first week of the Olympics dominated the British public’s viewing.

Between Monday and Sunday last week, BBC1 recorded an all-hours share of 27.7 per cent – its best weekly performance since the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and 6 per cent above its year-to-date average.

Britain’s Olympic team’s gold medal-winning performances helped BBC1’s Beijing highlights programme, Olympics 2008: Games Today, to a record audience of 6.1 million viewers on Tuesday night, August 19.

Featuring Christine Ohuruogu‘s 400m gold medal race (Ohuruogu pictured left) that had been shown live earlier in the afternoon, the evening highlights programme had a 30 per cent share of the audience from 7pm and peaked with 6.7 million viewers at 7.45pm, according to unofficial overnights.

BBC1’s afternoon Olympics coverage averaged 4 million viewers, 41 per cent of the audience, across four and a half hours from 12.45pm. The coverage peaked in the quarter-hour from 3.45pm with 4.6 million viewers.

The previous night’s edition of the BBC1 Olympic highlights show had 5.4 million viewers and a 26 per cent share.

â–¡ London’s Games are set to raise £750 million more for Olympic sport worldwide than Beijing. For the winter-summer Olympic cycle in Turin and Beijing the International Olympic Committee earned less than £1.9 billion in combined sponsorship and broadcast revenues. Several major broadcast and commercial deals expire after the Beijing closing ceremony and the IOC’s marketing and broadcast executive, Timo Lumme, says it was on course for huge uplift.

Some 92 per cent of the IOC’s revenues from the Games goes to international federations and National Olympic Committees, including the BOA.

The IOC has already struck broadcast deals for London 2012 worth almost £2 billion. By also expanding its nine-partner portfolio of top-tier sponsors, such as Coca-Cola, to about a dozen, it expects also to generate another £600 million minimum from sponsors over the next four years. That will generate total broadcast and sponsorship revenue for the IOC of at least £2.7 billion, providing Olympic sports with a funding bonanza that will be as welcome at British Olympic HQ as anywhere.

â–¡ Bidding for the TV deals for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and 2016 has not yet begun, though the New York Times reported yesterday even more good news for the IOC, with the possibility that Disney-owned sports channel ESPN is considering pitching against NBC for the US rights.

“We believe the Olympics are a great property that would work well with our multiple platforms,” ESPN vice president Mike Soltys was reported as saying. “We intend to submit a proposal, but, as always, it will need to make economic sense.”

In 2003, NBC and its General Electric parent blew away the competition in the bidding for the 2010 and 2012 Games when it offered that NBC would continue as rights holder, while GE would become a worldwide Olympic sponsor. NBC and GE alone paid $2.2 billion for rights – even before the decision to award the 2012 Games to London was made.

â–¡ Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, as part of a long-term deal struck in the early 1990s, pays only a fraction of Asia’s £10 million contribution to broadcast rights. So CCTV has turned a profit of about £200 million in advertising revenues from these Olympics, with not a penny of it going back to sport.

Olympic officials are already lobbying for the world’s most populous country, with one of the most world’s fastest growing economies, to make a more proportional contribution ahead of the London Games.

Lumme said: “What we want to see is a participation to the costs of running the Olympic Games, of training the athletes around the world, which is then reflected in the rights fee. We will be engaging with the Chinese media market quite soon after these Games.”

â–¡ It may have been the Workers’ Stadium in Beijing rather than the Nou Camp or the Maracana, but the prospect of seeing Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho on the same pitch was simply too good to miss, writes Philip Barker.

Thanks to a fast bus ride, it was just possible to catch the closing stages of the Olympic semi-final after rushing back from the final cycling session. The game attracted huge interest from the media and for the first time at these Games, the post-match press conference became a ticketed event with priority given to journalists from the participating countries.

Though Messi – who almost did not play in the tournament because of an appeal by his club Barcelona – did not score, Riquelme did as Argentina won comfortably with three second-half goals. The Brazilians had two men sent off towards the end, suggesting that this was an authentic South American derby.

Argentina meet Nigeria in the final on Saturday.

Click here to read: Jowell – Beijing has taken Games to a new level

Click here to read: Liu’s injury creates Beijing media frenzy

Click here to read previous blog entries from Barry Newcombe in Beijing

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