July 26th, 2012
10:06 PM ET

Five Olympic-sized gaffes ahead of London 2012

Hosting the Olympic Games is never going to be easy. You might recall the behind-schedule construction nightmares before Athens 2004, the pollution complaints at Beijing 2008 and Montreal’s near-bankruptcy in 1976.

London 2012 hasn’t been immune to public relations disappointments, either.

The games haven’t even officially started, but already we’ve seen a North Korea football team walk off a field before an early game because someone embarrassingly introduced the squad with the wrong flag.

With billions of people expected to watch London 2012 at some point during the 17-day event, organizers will hope many of the major troubles are behind them by the time Friday’s opening ceremony begins.

Here are five ways the run-up to these games wasn’t as smooth as organizers would have hoped:

1. Security contractor thousands of guards short

The games got a bit of a jolt just two weeks ago when a security contractor announced it wouldn’t be able to field all of the guards that it promised.

Private security firm G4S had committed to recruiting a staff of about 10,400 as part of a total security force for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. But on July 11, G4S announced that although 4,000 of its people already were working at 100 venues, it didn’t have enough time left to train and vet applicants for all of the remaining positions.

That prompted lawmakers to summon the company’s CEO, Nick Buckles, for questioning. Buckles admitted that the staffing fiasco is "a humiliating shambles for the country."

To make up for the shortfall, Britain announced it would deploy a few thousand extra troops to the Olympics, many more than previously planned. About 1,200 of those were called up just this week after being placed on standby.

On Tuesday, G4S said it had around 5,800 security personnel deployed at Olympic venues, with more expected to be trained and accredited daily. Last week, it said it hoped to have 7,000 fully accredited by the start of the Games.

G4S has agreed to meet the cost of the extra troop deployment, which could run to $77 million.

More about security at the London Olympics

2. Snubbed by a long-lost rock star

It’s embarrassing enough for Olympics organizers that The Who’s famed former drummer Keith Moon didn’t accept their invitation to play at the Games. Even worse is that the regrets had to come from the band’s manager.

Because, you know, Moon has been dead for 34 years.

The Sunday Times reported in April that a London 2012 representative asked The Who’s manager whether Moon would be available to play in one of the Olympic ceremonies. He would have been quite a catch, considering Rolling Stone readers rated him as the second-best drummer of all time in 2011.

Problem was, Moon hasn’t been available for some time. The British percussionist died in 1978 at age 32 of a drug overdose.

The Who’s lead singer, Roger Daltrey, confirmed the invitation in a May appearance on ABC’s "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

"It is true, and it can only happen in Britain. I mean we are so organized," Daltrey said. "We got … an e-mail requesting, ‘Could Keith Moon attend the opening ceremony?’ And our manager said in an e-mail back, ‘Well, actually, he currently resides at Golders Green crematorium, where he’s been for the last 35 years.'"

3. Tickets, please

A few ticket distribution problems have hit the media, with the The New York Times, The Globe and Mail and the Daily Mail reporting on people waiting for hours in London will-call lines. The people going to these lines reportedly are doing so for a number of different reasons, including: 1) distributors failed to mail tickets to purchasers on time; 2) purchasers failed to buy in time for tickets to be mailed; and 3) purchasers chose to pick up tickets in person to avoid delivery fees.

A different sort of ticket problem is shaping up at the Olympic aquatic center, with organizers offering up to 4,800 ticket refunds because of obstructed views for the 10-meter diving events, according to The Guardian.

The refunds involve 600 seats for each session involving the 10-meter board, including synchronized and solo events. Organizers didn’t tell people at the time of their £30-£50 ($47-$78) purchase that views from those seats were obstructed, but they are saying so now, The Guardian reported.

Organizers say only a tiny fraction of the dives will be obstructed from view, but nevertheless they will refund the ticket holders – even if they watch the event and choose to collect afterward, The Guardian reported.

4. That’s not our flag

The North Korean women’s football coach wasn’t impressed when he looked at the scoreboard and saw South Korea’s flag instead of his own country’s before the North’s first match Wednesday.

So he led his team off the field shortly before the game against Colombia was to begin at Scotland’s Hampden Park.

The scoreboard showed South Korea’s flag as it displayed the profiles of North Korean players.

London 2012’s organizing committee issued apologies to the team, and North Korea’s Olympic committee, and the game started more than an hour late. North Korea beat Colombia 2-0.

5. Disaster survivors, advocates protest Dow sponsorship

Advocates for victims of a fatal 1984 gas leak in India have criticized London 2012 officials for accepting Dow Chemicals as a major sponsor.

Dow has a multimillion-pound deal with the Olympics, and provided a fabric wrap around the Olympic stadium in East London. But victims’ advocates who accuse Dow of holding some responsibility for the 1984 disaster - a claim that Dow denies - have rallied against the deal for months.

The gas leak that killed an estimated 15,000 people involved what was then a Union Carbide plant at Bhopal, India. Dow bought Union Carbide 16 years after the incident and argues it has no responsibility.

The Olympics’ sustainability commissioner, Meredith Alexander, quit this year after Dow Chemicals was awarded the sponsorship deal.

Demonstrators plan to hold a 'die-in' protest outside the stadium Friday morning, hours before the opening ceremonies. In December, protesters in India burned an effigy of Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the London 2012 organizing group, according to the British Broadcasting Corp.

Dow Chemicals told CNN it remained "fully committed to our partnership with the IOC and to contributing to a successful, positive London 2012 Games" and questioned whether the protest should go ahead.

"The use of the Olympic Games to protest has become an unfortunate part of what should be a global celebration. We believe in freedom of speech and encourage debate on this important issue," a Dow spokesman said in a statement.

"However, we regret the misinformed and misdirected allegations and actions of some, which are not constructive to the resolution of the issue or consistent with the spirit of the Olympic Games."

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Filed under: Olympics • Sports • United Kingdom
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. drap™

    Keith Moon was asked to perform at an Olympic ceremony... .? lol . I guess Jimi Hendrix wasn't available... .

    July 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Seriously...I know, right?
      How silly!
      All they had to do is oh, I don't know, ASK somebody before they shot that email off...
      What the hey, I would have answered "heck yeah, if you don't mind his...um...ashen complextion..."
      How dumb.
      I asked my 18 yo if she knew who Keith Moon was, and she said "isn't some dead drummer?"
      Who was the second choice?
      Jon Bonham?

      July 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. drap™

    At least Bonham and Moon are remembered...It's amazing how many youngsters listen to classic rock stations from time to time, Long live Rock... .

    July 26, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Off topic jay jay

    In new York Andrew goodman pled guilty to a whopping 48 counts of rayping two young boys over a period of two years. Judge Martin Murphy sentences him to just 2 YEARS! With time served he could get out in as little as a few weeks! Us attourney Loretta lynch is charging him with transporting a minor across state lines with the intent of molestation. Thank god for her! And to be fair lynch was appointed by mr Obama two years ago. I just thought many of you here would like to hear about what that judge did...

    July 26, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      The sentencing guidelines need to be revisited in NY State...
      That is appalling.
      Good for Judge Lynch!

      July 26, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      @Jay Jay- I am shocked you said something nice about Obama.lol

      July 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    lmao @ DRAP?, my kids call that *campin music!*

    July 26, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. drap ™

    @ chrissy keep tabs on smores intake... .as a kid my parents would slap in Moody Blues 8 track in wide open van..that would bring on the zzzzz's... .

    July 26, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I love the Moody Blues!
      Whatchoo talking about, drap?

      July 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. drap ™

    I do too... .except I had to push that V.W. van till it jump started... .have you ever heard Knights in White Satin on 8 track during this process... .now that I think about it LOL... .!

    July 27, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Whoa

      Dude, your parents were harsh..ya think they would let ya steer at least if you're gonna be forced to listen to "Nights in White Satin"...way to survive your childhood! (Mine was a Rambler!)

      July 27, 2012 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Whoa

      Oh, yeah, did you go to my HS? Our theme for prom was "Nights In White Satin", but they made us chande it to "Knights" b/cuz we were so polly purebreads...lol

      July 27, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. spider3211

    I am waiting for the show of Keith Moon. I really want to see his performance.

    July 27, 2012 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mrs. Katz

    Add to this Mitt blundering into Europe offending our closest ally and leaving himself having to apologize for his behavior. He goes on to the Middle East next. We'll be lucky if he doesn't start another war over there.

    July 27, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. JACK

    Palin is irrelevant, and after november, romney will be too.

    July 27, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. sayer

    You forgot Mitt's open mouth, insert both feet, and then a flip flop. I'd give a routine with that level of difficulty a 10!

    July 27, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Klw

    Meredith Alexander should be commended. What the story doesn't say is that the victims of Bhopal were paid less than $500 per person in the settlement that Dow insists is final. Thousands of people died immediately, tens of thousands have died in total, and over a hundred thousand continue to suffer from the chronic health effects of the leak. The disaster site has not yet been cleaned up and new people continue to be harmed, including children. Yet Dow is just looking the other way and hiding behind the settlement. The real truth is that Dow is Union Carbide and Union Carbide is Dow. Dow is responsible for all of those deaths. This is the foremost case in the entire world of corporate greed destroying human life. Dow is making hundreds of millions off of this sponsorship while people suffer in India. A "gaffe?" More like one of the greatest tragedies – and travesties – in all of human history.

    July 27, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Gaffe Games

    I can't believe CNN would report on the shortcomings of the London Games, don't they know this is the Olympics? You're not supposed to be critical in any way. Just ask Mitt Romney...

    July 27, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. Donita

    Where have you been getting your data, from the Three Stooges Financial Advisory Group? Personal debt is up and peansorl bankruptcy at an all-time high. Unemployment is nearly double the figure you pulled out of your behind hole. The national debt is at an all-time high. Bush has NOT increased spending on public education. Money spent on the military has been wasted by the billions. Tell me something: who do you expect to actually swallow your lies?

    August 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
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    December 22, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |