London, the biggest city in Europe, will host the 2012 Olympic Summer Games opening July 27 and closing on Aug.12.
Tickets (9 million available) are on sale now for the Games that will play host to 10,500 Olympic athletes in 26 sports in 34 venues; 4,200 Paralympics athletes in 20 sports in 21 venues. There are 20,000 press and media passes and the Olympic Park in East London is expecting to host 180,000 spectators a day.
The bid was awarded to London (8 million pop.) by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2005; outbidding New York City (8 million pop.); Moscow (10 million pop.); Madrid (3.2 million pop.) and Paris (11 million pop.). Population figures approximate.
Anecdotal history has it that the citizens of France have been known to snatch defeat from the jaws victory on other occasions so more of that hearsay history claims that the members of the IOC had all but decided that Paris would be awarded those 2012 Games, but, "You Know What?" When the IOC team arrived at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to take a look at Olympic plans there was a massive public transportation strike; they took one hasty look around and said, "forgetta'aboutit."
The bid for TV?rights
Comcast, the new owner of NBC, successfully bid $4.38 billion to acquire the rights to each Olympic Games from 2014 (when the Olympic Winter Games will be held in Sochi, Russia) to 2020, when as of this writing, that host city had not been named.
Other Games already awarded in addition to Sochi and London is the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. The 2008 Summer Games were held in Beijing, China and the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.
The contrast in size of the summer and winter games - 1,300 athletes in Lake Placid in 1980; 2,300 athletes in Vancouver in 2010 - London more than 10,000 athletes.
Past Winter Games
Innsbruck, Austria held the Olympic Winter Games in 1964 and in 1976, when Denver, Colorado won the bid and backed out over environmental issues. Here are excerpts from the New York Times in a special copy of "The Greatest Moments in Winter Games History":
Innsbruck, Jan. 29, 1964 - "The Soviet Union defeated the United States today in the first round of Olympic hockey competition. The score was five to one and only the skill of the American goalie, Tom Yurkovich, (he was the U.S. Goalie?) kept it that close. The 28-year-old Yurkovich, one of the many Minnesotans on the American squad made 63 stops. Only 25 shots were fired at the Russian goalie, Victor Konovalenko.
"Oleg Protopopov and Ludmila Belousova of the Soviet Union won the pairs figure skating gold medal in the IX Winter Olympic Games the first gold medal of the competition. It was the first time the Soviet Union had won an Olympic gold medal in figure skating.
"The experienced Soviet competitors won the first place decision from five of the nine judges with a difficult skating program executed with ballet-like grace.
"Protopopov and his wife, who skates under maiden name were certain winners after the judges posted their point totals following their performance. He is 31 years old and she is 28."
Come to the Olympic Center in Lake Placid any time in July and August this year and see this handsome couple teaching young skaters and skating routines on the 1980 Olympic rink.
Skating star dies
Oslo, Oct. 12, 1969 - "Sonja Henie, ice-skating queen and film star, died tonight on an ambulance plane flying from Paris to Oslo. She was 57 years old.
"Miss Henie had been suffering from leukemia for the last nine months. In Paris yesterday her condition worsened and it was decided to fly her home.
"Her husband, Nels Onstad, a Norwegian ship owner said, 'she just slept away' halfway through the two-hour flight."
Sonja Henie, at age 19, won a figure skating gold medal at the third Olympic Winter games in Lake Placid in 1932.
U.S. figure skating golf 1976
Dorothy Hamill, 19, who trained and went to high school in Lake Placid won a gold medal in figure skating in Innsbruck, Austria in 1976 received a big welcome in her hometownhere is an excerpt from the New York Times story:
Greenwich, Conn. - March 22, 1976 - "The hometown girl who left here five years ago in pursuit of an Olympic gold medal returned the hometown heroine today as she was welcomed back as only a small town can welcome back its own. Thousands of people lined the streets, jammed the squares, filled the rooftops and clambered into the trees wherever the motorcade carrying the 19-year-old Dorothy Hamill stopped during her triumphal return today "
Now here is one last note because I do not want to end this column too abruptly as is sometimes noted by my friend Sue Cameron.
Thursday, Feb. 3, 1972 - "Bruins Triumph Over Rangers, 2-0; Lead by 8 points Eposito and Orr Score as Boston Beats New York Fourth Time in Row."