London Latest - Wrestling Unhappy with 2012 Test Event; Coe Defends Budget Hike
The Wrestling International Invitational ended Sunday (ATR)
(ATR) The president of the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles tells Around the Rings
that the wrestling test event for London 2012 is not the ideal Olympics warm-up. But the International Weightlifting Federation is satisfied with its weekend test.
FILA chief Raphaël Martinetti was speaking to ATR at London’s ExCeL center which hosted the two-day Wrestling International Invitational, part of the London Prepares Series of test events in the build-up to next year's Games.
He dismissed the event as merely a test for LOCOG and not for his federation for athletes.
“First of all for us, it’s not a real test event. Generally in the last five or six Olympic Games, one year before we have made the world championships the test event," he told ATR. "We do this because you have the same number of athletes [as at the Olympics], you have more countries and you have a real condition for the test event.”
Martinetti added: “This test event is only for the technology. Believe me it’s not a good test event.
"But unfortunately I have no choice - I meet these conditions because England says the ExCeL center costs a lot of money and everything so I accept this.”
Martinetti said that for the Rio 2016 Games, FILA would return to its normal system of using a world championships a year before as the big test event for the Olympics “because we have the Junior World Championships in 2015”, which are due to take place in July of that year.
Martinetti also claimed that not enough was being tested at the ExCel event, which concluded Sunday.
“This is not very good test event because you are not testing the volunteers, you are not testing the airport arrivals, you are not testing the transport," he added.
His comment on transportation was significant. Due to Transport for London engineering works, there were no trains directly servicing the local station to ExCeL, Custom House, proving his point that the transport to be used at Games-time was not being tested.
“The athletes are not the priority," Martinetti said. "You have just eight athletes for one category, nine athletes for some categories and seven for others – it’s not a test event.”
But Daniel Robin, wrestling competition manager for LOCOG, defended the event and maintained that testing of the logistics and technology were important for the international federation.
Speaking to ATR, he said: “Here we have the replica of 18 weight classes and the president has all that to maybe improve the system of the results, to see the capacity of the organising committee and the technology – to observe all of this information during the Games."
Robin also went on to stress the importance of “testing the field of play” because of the new design that allowed for a completely new position for a camera on the platform.
“I think television will be pretty happy with those because they will have angles that they don’t usually
Weightlifting federation leader Sam Coffa at London's ExCel (ATR)
have," he said.
Weightlifting Pleased with Test
It was a different story down the corridor at the weightlifting test event.
The vice-president of the International Weightlifting Federation told ATR that for their event “everything is perfect".
Sam Coffa spoke to ATR and said how happy the federation was as soon as officials and athletes arrived at the venue, and that good feeling continued over the weekend.
“Everything is as expected," he said. "I’ve been here a couple of times to make sure that everyone knows what they are supposed to do, but we are also lucky that we have a very competent competition manager and knows exactly what is required and has a good bunch of staff and volunteers – everything is perfect.”
But Coffa did admit that there were a few minor issues that needed to be “ironed out”, adding that they were not cause for much concern in the north hall of the 100,000m2 venue.
Coe rides on the streets of Beijing during the launch of an Olympic bicycle at the British Embassy on Sunday to highlight London’s preparations to stage environmentally green and sustainable Games (Getty)
in and nothing really much to be done, just the little things – I don’t like the chair here I prefer it over there, that sort of thing but we are very satisfied with what we have here," he said.
The Australian also admitted that the performance of the athletes over the weekend was not the priority, adding: “What is important is ensuring the flow in the field of play - the safety of the lifters and officials and making sure everyone knows where they have to go during the Olympic Games.”
Team GB hopeful Zoe Smith was one of the athletes taking part in the event at the exhibition center.
Smith told ATR that she wasn’t concerned about the acoustics of the ExCel; likening it to the venue for the world championships held at Disneyland Paris.
“It's very similar to a lot of other venues, it’s a similar set up to the world championships. It’s very professional and I’m quite pleased with how it’s turned out - I imagine it’ll be even better when we have a full crowd next year," she added.
Coe Defends Budget Increases
London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe has hit back at criticism of budget increases for Olympics security and the opening and closing ceremonies.
The British government has come under fire after announcing in the last two weeks a doubling of the venue security bill to $863 million and the budget for the opening and closing ceremonies, to $127 million.
"It's not just simply organizing Olympic Games, it also brings the infrastructural and transformational changes to London," Xinhua quoted Coe during his trip to Beijing to attend the International Paralympic Committee General Assembly on Sunday.
"Olympic and Paralympic Games last for 60 days. But this legacy of change will last for 60 years."
Coe emphasized that LOCOG's budget for the ceremonies "has not altered, that has remained constant".
"The government saw what we have created in the main ceremonies and wanted to invest more in this unique promotion of Britain to four billion people around the world," AFP quoted Coe.
U.K. sports minister Hugh Robertson maintains that the ceremonies budget increase is vital to attract business to Britain and encourage greater spend by tourists.
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