Tag Archives: cities

Germany plan England friendly and USA tour in build-up to 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Going global: Germany plan England friendly and USA tour ahead of World Cup in Brazil

World Cup when Frank Lampard's effort was deemed not to have crossed the line” class=”blkBorder” />

Thrashed: England's last match with Germany was a 4-1 loss in the 2012 World Cup when Frank Lampard's effort was deemed not to have crossed the line

Bierhoff was unveiling Germany's agenda for 2013 in an interview on the website of the German Football Association (DFB), and those plans include a trip to the United States at the end of the Bundesliga season.

Undertaking such a long trip at the end of the domestic season is a subject of debate in Germany, but Bierhoff has defended the decision.

'It has been the case that even the players have not been fully convinced about the sense of these kinds of trip, yet afterwards, they are all so enthusiastic because they realised how much they benefited from it,' he said.

'That will be the case again this time. Miami and Washington are two beautiful cities and we can have a good time there as a team, get to know ourselves better and grow.'

Strong: Most of Germany's side come from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund

Strong: Most of Germany's side come from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund

Strong: Most of Germany's side come from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund

However, Bierhoff is not sure a first-choice squad will be able to make the trip.

Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, who account for the lion's share of Joachim Low's current squad, meet in the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal, which means one of their season could be over in time for the players to make the trip.

However, the Champions League final falls just days before Germany's planned first game stateside and Bierhoff expects that to interfere with his plans.

'I am fully convinced that we are going to have at least one German side in the final of the Champions League,' he said.

'I would be pleased if that were the case, even if we would then take a squad with a few fresh faces to the USA with us.'

Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire in 2014

Tour de Yorkshire! Historic Grand Depart stage to be held in God's own county in 2014 (…and then it's on to London)

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UPDATED:

11:50 GMT, 14 December 2012

The historic Grand Depart of the Tour de France will be staged in Yorkshire in 2014, organisers announced today.

It follows a campaign by the Welcome to Yorkshire tourist agency to bring the prestigious event to the county.

Full details of the route will be announced in two press conferences held in Paris and Leeds on January 17, 2013.

It is believed there will be a stage in Yorkshire on July 5, 2014, starting in Leeds, and then a second stage the following day starting in the county and ending in London.

Leeds will host a Festival of Cycling to coincide with the stage.

Barnsley Wiggins Sky's Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour this year

Barnsley Wiggins Sky's Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour this year

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM T'TOUR

Allez 'Alifax. Vive la Dewsbury. How do Bienvenue.

Yes, the news that the 2014 Tour de France will begin in God's Own County is sure to provoke much mocking headline fun.

But just listen 'ere… First, Yorkshire conquered the Olympics last summer after winning gold after gold after gold (Nicola Adams, Alistair Brownlee, Jessica Ennis).

We're now putting India's cricketers to the sword in Nagpur thanks to Joe Root and Tim Bresnan. Now we've won the honour of launching the greatest race in the world.

Those of us lucky enough to have been born there – think Geoffrey Boycott, Dame Judi Dench, Richard Whitely, Sir Michael Parkinson, Arctic Monkeys, Alan Bennett, Harry Ramsden and Sooty (but not Sweep, that thug is clearly Lancastrian) – have long-since known Yorkshire is the biggest and best county.

And we'll revel in showing off our stunning scenery, cosmopolitan cities (erm… Leeds and Sheffield) and welcoming personalities.
Just don't expect us to get our round in.

Forget Le Tour, welcome to t'Tour. It'll be fan-bloody-tastic.

MARK ALFORD, Professional Yorkshireman

A statement from ASO read: 'The organisers of the Tour de France are pleased to announce that the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2014 will take place in the United Kingdom in the county of Yorkshire, before heading to London for a stage finish.

'After an outstanding 2012 for British cycling, marked by the historical victory of Bradley Wiggins on the Tour de France, the United Kingdom will again hold pride of place in 2014.

'The Grand Depart of the 101st edition of the Tour will take place on July 5 in Leeds in the county of Yorkshire.

'Seven years after the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2007 and two years after the latest Olympic Games, London will host the last stage on British soil, before the pack returns to mainland Europe.

'The details of this Grand Depart and the stages it will include will be revealed at a press conference that will take place on Thursday January 17, 2013, in two phases, in both Leeds and Paris.'

British Cycling president Brian Cookson said: 'Like every other cycling fan, I am thrilled the world's biggest bike race is coming back to this country.

'The huge numbers who turned out to support the 2007 Grand Depart and the London 2012 road races show the passion we have for cycling.

'I'm sure Yorkshire will give the 2014 Tour de France a welcome which will stand out in the race's rich history.'

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, added: 'Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole.

'We are honoured that the race organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Dpart.

'It will mean less than two years after hosting the Olympics the British public can look forward to another of the world’s biggest sporting events coming to the country, and I am in no doubt they will come to Yorkshire in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling and our home grown British heroes.

World famous race: Scenes like this in France will be coming to Yorkshire in 2014

World famous race: Scenes like this in France will be coming to Yorkshire in 2014

FRENCH TO YORKSHIRE TRANSLATOR

How many seconds in front of t’peloton – Combien de secondes d'avance sur le peloton

Look at ‘em overtaking the lad from t’Hovis ad – Regardez-les dpassements du jeune homme de l'annonce Hovis

What is this t’Yorkshire pudding – Quel est ce pouding Yorkshire

What time is t’Emmerdale t’on – Quelle heure est-Emmerdale t-il

Where is the statue of t’Eric Cantona – O est la statue d'Eric Cantona

Buy your bloody own – Achetez votre propre sanglante

'Yorkshire is a passionate county of proud people and I am sure they will guarantee that their Grand Dpart raises the bar in terms of expectations for all future hosts to come.'

MP for Leeds North West Greg Mulholland said:
'This is absolutely fantastic news for Yorkshire, to have won the bid to be hosting a stage of the Tour de France in the same year as the first ever British winner is sensational.

'The Tour de France is one of the biggest and most prestigious sporting events in the world and to think it will be coming through the cities, towns and streets of Yorkshire is so exciting and it will be a huge boost to the local economy as well as cycling.

'The Back Le Bid team have done a quite superb job and I want to pay tribute to their excellent campaign to show the organisers what Yorkshire has to offer. They have achieved something very special and historic that generations will both enjoy and treasure.'

It is the first time since 2007 the opening part of the Tour will be held in Britain. Then, one million people lined the streets of London for the opening prologue.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'I am thrilled that the Tour de France will return to the UK and no location could be better than London for what will no doubt be an exhilarating climax to the British section of the race.

'This year we proved our expertise not just in hosting world class sporting events, but in winning them too, and I am sure Bradley Wiggins and several of his compatriots will be hugely excited at the prospect of the Tour returning to their home streets.'

Tour organisers Maury Sports Organisation selected Yorkshire ahead of a separate British-wide bid with an Edinburgh start, but that remains in the running for a future date, possibly 2017.

An EventScotland spokesman said: 'It is disappointing that we have been unsuccessful for the 2014 Grand Depart but it is great news that the Tour is returning in 2014 following British cycling success this year.

'Our initial plans had highlighted 2017 as our preferred date and we have had a positive indication from ASO that the year is still a possibility.

'We have developed a great British bid with strong partners, which would deliver significant benefits to the whole country and we will continue our positive dialogue with ASO in the new year and look at our next steps.'

The 100th edition of the Tour begins in Corsica on June 29, 2013.

Britain's Bradley Wiggins is the defending champion, having become the first rider from this country to claim overall victory this summer.

Some of Yorkshire's beautiful scenery


Yorkshire immortalised in the famous 1973 Hovis advert

Brazil World Cup 2014 posters for each host city – FIFA

Brazilian flair shines through in FIFA posters for each World Cup 2014 host city

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UPDATED:

21:15 GMT, 26 November 2012

Posters have been released for each of the cities in Brazil which will host World Cup games in 2014.

They may not have finished building all of the stadiums, but a lot of care and attention has gone into designing these.

Each poster features something which ties in with the history or the nature of the city it is for.

Scroll down to see each of the posters for the 12 host cities and find out why each one was designed the way it is.

Meanwhile Brazilians have selected the
name 'Fuleco' for the three-banded armadillo mascot for the competition
after a three-month voting process that was branded undemocratic by
fans.

Controversial: The armadillo mascot was named Fuleco after a vote but many people were unimpressed with the selection of options on offer

Controversial: The armadillo mascot was named Fuleco after a vote but many people were unimpressed with the selection of options on offer

FIFA said more than 1.7 million people in Brazil took part in the controversial vote to select the name for the mascot.

Polls showed the vast majority of Brazilians were not pleased with the names picked for public voting and critics said organisers should let fans choose other names.

Fuleco comes from the Portuguese words 'futebol' (football) and 'ecologia' (ecology), and FIFA said it 'seamlessly represents the way in which the FIFA World Cup can combine the two to encourage people to behave in an environmentally friendly way.'

Football’s governing body said Fuleco received 48 percent of the vote, while 31 percent went for Zuzeco and 21 percent for Amijubi.

Organisers claimed fans could not send in suggestions because the names needed to fulfill several legal requirements involving trademarks and other rights.

THE NEW POSTERS FOR EACH HOST CITY OF THE 2014 WORLD CUP

Rio de Janeiro: A footballer balancing the ball on the back of his neck shows the city's deep love of the game.

Sao Paulo: The design portrays a bustling metropolis where thousands of people life, celebrate and breath football. The city has an infectious energy and football is in its blood, its buildings and in the air

Rio de Janeiro: A footballer balancing the ball on the back of his neck shows the city's deep love of the game. Each layer meanwhile stands for one aspect of Rio, the beach, the mountains, the Sugarloaf peak, the sea and the sky.

Sao Paulo: The design portrays a bustling metropolis where thousands of people life, celebrate and breath football. The city has an infectious energy and football is in its blood, its buildings and in the air.

Belo Horizonte: The city holds the Church of Sao Francisco de Assis, which is displayed in silhouette form on the poster, according to FIFA. The design's celebratory nature shows the welcome that footballers and fans will receive in the city

Brasilia: The background image represents the cathedral in the city, with an immense blue sky above it. Green at the bottom portrays the vast expanse of greenery the city has, while the various colours of the player show the city's multiculturality

Belo Horizonte: The city holds the Church of Sao Francisco de Assis, which is displayed in silhouette form on the poster, according to FIFA. The design's celebratory nature shows the welcome that footballers and fans will receive in the city.

Brasilia: The background image represents the cathedral in the city, with an immense blue sky above it. Green at the bottom portrays the vast expanse of greenery the city has in it, while the various colours of the player show the city's multiculturality.

Curitiba: A Brazilian pine tree is pictured because this type of tree covered much of the land in the area before the city was formed in the 17th century.

Manaus: This city is in the state of Amazonas, which is almost entirely covered by rainforest. The parrots sitting on top of the goal post are representative of that.

Curitiba: A Brazilian pine tree is pictured because this type of tree covered much of the land in the area before the city was formed in the 17th century. The pine rises high, stretching out its cones almost as if it is raising a toast to football.

Manaus: This city is in the state of Amazonas, which is almost entirely covered by rainforest. The parrots sitting on top of the goal post are representative of that, and signify the fact we cheer for great players, matches, goals, and for nature itself.

 Salvador: A city of wealth, culture and artchitectual heritage. It has stunning scenery and breathtaking views from up high in the towers of the city's other tourist attractions.

Fortaleza: The sunshine and beauty of the city's coastline, shown with a beach at the bottom on the poster, make it a special place. The city's major landmarks are shown in the football raised high above the Castelao Arena.

Salvador: A city of wealth, culture and architectural heritage. It has stunning scenery and breathtaking views from up high in the towers of the city's other tourist attractions. Perhaps views which might bring to the heart the same delight as the feeling when your team score.

Fortaleza: The sunshine and beauty of the city's coastline, shown with a beach at the bottom on the poster, make it a special place. The city's major landmarks are shown in the football raised high above the Castelao Arena. It is a city which is both modern but has not forgotten its roots.

Natal: The green comes from the forest, the blue from the crystal sea and the yellow from the hot sands. The silhouette of a man reaching out on a poster coloured like the Brazilian flag symbolises the country welcoming the world.

Cuiaba: The capital of the state of Mato Grosso is in the exact centre of South America and is considered the heart of the continent. The poster's bright colours shows the joy the World Cup will bring and the joyful nature of the locals.

Natal: The green comes from the forest, the blue from the crystal sea and the yellow from the hot sands. The silhouette of a man reaching out on a poster coloured like the Brazilian flag symbolises the country welcoming the world with open arms. The people of Natal are keen to give, to share, to host.

Cuiaba: The capital of the state of Mato Grosso is in the exact centre of South America and is considered the heart of the continent. The poster's bright colours shows the joy the World Cup will bring and the joyful nature of the locals. The silhouette of the whole state is displayed in the centre of the ball.

Porto Alegre: The capital city of Rio Grande do Sul has magnificent views over Lake Guaiba and on the right lies the Usina do Gasometro, the best place to see these from. The ball being kicked represents the cultural legacy being fired forward.

Recife: The poster shows the essence of a coastal city full of art, joy and movement. Frevo is the dance of the city and the man in the middle is a frevo dancer, whose moves also represent that of a skilled football player.

Porto Alegre: The capital city of Rio Grande do Sul has magnificent views over Lake Guaiba and on the right lies the Usina do Gasometro, the best place to see these from. The ball being kicked represents the cultural legacy being fired forward.

Recife: The poster shows the essence of a coastal city full of art, joy and movement. Frevo is the dance of the city and the man in the middle is a frevo dancer, whose moves also represent that of a skilled football player. There is a carnival feel to the design.

Jacques Rogge says Olympics could return to London within 20 years

IOC president Rogge says Olympics could return to London… within the next 20 years!

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UPDATED:

10:51 GMT, 14 October 2012

The president of the International Olympic Committee says he would have no problem with London hosting the Games again within the next 20 years.

This summer's Games in the capital were a resounding success and Jacques Rogge believes there would be no objection to the city doing so again soon.

Asked if London could stage the Olympics again within 20 years, he told Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme: 'I think definitely that would be a possibility. Whether there is a will to do that is another matter, but definitely yes, that would be possible.

Hungry for more: IOC president Jacques Rogge believes there would be little opposition to London hosting another Olympic Games within 20 years

Hungry for more: IOC president Jacques Rogge believes there would be little opposition to London hosting another Olympic Games within 20 years

'The IOC would welcome always good bids, irrespective of the place they originate from.

'There will always be a competition between various candidate cities. This is a contest and definitely it remains to be seen whether London would show an interest to bid again and if that is the case London will have to face other cities.

'I would welcome good bids emanating from as many countries as possible and this includes the United Kingdom.'

Rogge also backed the British authorities to make a success of the Olympic Stadium, the future of which is still to be decided.

Rogge said: 'My view is that what we really need is that it can be used by communities and not be left as a white elephant and I'm quite sure that my British friends will find a solution for sustainable legacy.'

Back you come: Rogge (centre right) said that as long as the track is well maintained, the Olympic Park would be a perfect repeat venue

Back you come: Rogge (centre right) said that as long as the track is well maintained, the Olympic Park would be a perfect repeat venue

Asked if he would be happy for West Ham to move into the Stratford stadium, he said: 'As long as the track can be kept, that is the most important thing in terms of legacy for the athletics, But if a football team would come in the stadium, this would guarantee sustainable development.'

Rogge also dismissed any concerns that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil could affect preparations for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

'On the contrary, I think the FIFA World Cup will be a support for the Olympic Games.

'They will be able to test readiness. the volunteers that are working for the FIFA World Cup will also work for the Olympic Games so definitely it will benefit from the FIFA World Cup.'

Golf will feature in the Olympics for the first time in Rio and Rogge believes it will be one of the most popular sports at the Games.

He added: 'I think it is really very important for the Games to have the participation of Tiger Woods. We have the best athletes in the world, we have Usain Bolt and we need to have Tiger Woods too.

'He could definitely consider the Games as another major.'

More of the same: Usain Bolt (centre) and Co ensured that the 2012 Games were a resounding success in the capital

More of the same: Usain Bolt (centre) and Co ensured that the 2012 Games were a resounding success in the capital

Michel Platini: Euro 2020 would be one-off

Platini clear over 2020 vision as UEFA chief insists tournament would be a one-off

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UPDATED:

15:43 GMT, 1 October 2012

UEFA president Michel Platini has stated that his idea of playing the Euro 2020 finals in 12 European cities across the continent would be a one-off for that tournament only.

Platini said UEFA were waiting from feedback from the 53 European member associations before making a decision – in the past the European Championships have been in just one or two countries.

The Football Association have already registered their interest in hosting the Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium should the new format be brought in.

Making his point: UEFA president Michel Platini

Making his point: UEFA president Michel Platini

Platini told a news conference in St Petersburg: 'It is an idea that will be discussed by all national associations within their relevant meetings.

'It is an idea and that concerns the 60th anniversary of the Euros in 2020, and to carry the game further than just played in one country but extend it to 12 European cities.

'Sometimes it is a bit costly and some countries cannot host the Euros because of the forbidding cost.

'We are waiting for feedback to say whether they like it or not and whether in 2020 we can organise a Euro in several European cities – but only 2020 mind you.'

Looking ahead: The FA want to put Wembley forward as the host stadium for the Euro 2020 Final

Looking ahead: The FA want to put Wembley forward as the host stadium for the Euro 2020 Final

Michel Platini: Euro 2020 could be hosted across the continent

Tinkerman Platini says Euro 2020 could have multiple hosts across the continent

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UPDATED:

12:06 GMT, 30 June 2012

UEFA president Michel Platini has dropped a bombshell by claiming Euro 2020 could be held in up to 32 cities across Europe.

Turkey had been favourites to host the event but doubt has been placed over their ability to stage the event due to their ongoing bid for Istanbul to host the Olympic Games in the same year.

It would be impractical to host both, so UEFA are having to look at alternatives.

Radical idea: Michel Platini has announced plans to overhaul the European Championships

Radical idea: Michel Platini (centre) has announced plans to overhaul the European Championships

Platini insists there are other
options – a joint bid between Scotland, Wales and the Republic of
Ireland has been mentioned – but the controversial Frenchman has raised
the potential for a far more radical solution.

'The Euros in 2020 could be held all over Europe,' said Platini.

'We are just thinking about it. I have said 12 or 13 host cities, it could be 24 or 32.'

The reasoning behind what seems, on
the face of it, to be a rather bizarre plan, is to save the cost
involved of building stadiums and airports.

However, unless the 'tournament' was
going to be played in cities already used to holding big matches, that
expense would still be required.

The details are very sketchy. However, speaking in Kiev, Platini seems enthused by the prospect.

'It is a great debate,' he said.

'It would be four games per venue and everyone has the possibility to host it.'

New idea: The concept of one or two hosts could be a thing of the past

New idea: The concept of one or two hosts could be a thing of the past

The logistical issue of supporters
travelling to random venues all over Europe did not seem to be a problem
in Platini's mind, even if the example he used had very little to do
with the present tournament, being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

'It is easier to go from London to Paris or Berlin than Cardiff to Gdansk,' he said.

'Turkey going for the Olympics creates
a problem for us and we are not going to wait until we know whether
they are going to get them.'

Quite how much support Platini's plan
would have is difficult to gauge at this stage. However, he vowed a
final decision would be taken in 'January or February'.

Shaking it up: Platini is certainly not one to settle for the status quo

Shaking it up: Platini is certainly not one to settle for the status quo

'The political decision needs to be made,' he said.

'We wouldn't have to build stadiums or
airports. That could be important in an economic crisis. This matter
will be discussed very seriously.'

Benitez sees the positives

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has backed Platini's suggestion.

'My experience when you talk about finals is it's a mess,' said the Spaniard

'When you play in a city and you have all the fans or like with the semi-finals you have a lot of teams in one or two cities, it's a mess so the idea to play in different cities I think it could be good.

'Maybe it's a good option for the future, in terms of having more facilities and it will be easier for the fans also to go to one place or the other.'

/06/30/article-0-13B1483B000005DC-916_468x306.jpg” width=”468″ height=”306″ alt=”Over the line: UEFA officials missed Marko Devic's 'goal' against England” class=”blkBorder” />

Over the line: UEFA officials missed Marko Devic's 'goal' against England

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said the controversial additional referees behind the goal would remain and also cited Ukraine's effort against England as the only error.

'There was full support for the system of additional referees to continue,' he said.

'The experiment has been extremely positive. In over a thousand matches, there has been one mistake.'

Infantino revealed that the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff will host the UEFA Super Cup in August 2014, with Tblisi in Georgia playing host in 2015.

London 2012 Olympics: Ben Ainslie to start torch relay in Britain

Golden boy Ainslie to start Olympic relay in Britain as sailor takes torch at Land's End

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UPDATED:

16:02 GMT, 10 May 2012

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie has been confirmed as the first torchbearer for the Olympic torch relay around Britain.

Ainslie will start the 70-day relay at Land's End on May 19 and will be the first of 8,000 torchbearers as it visits towns and cities throughout the country.

The 35-year-old, who won gold medals in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, said: 'I am extremely honoured to be the first torchbearer at the start of the 70-day Olympic torch relay.

Don't get it wet: Ben Ainslie will be the first torchbearer in Britain

Don't get it wet: Ben Ainslie will be the first torchbearer in Britain

'It will be an amazing experience to be able to carry the Olympic flame in the area that I grew up in.

'I also want to congratulate the thousands of other inspirational people who will carry the torch this summer and bring the excitement of the Games to streets throughout the UK.'

London 2012 chairman Seb Coe was pleased to announce Ainslie as the first torchbearer, while it was also revealed that cyclist Chris Hoy will run with the torch through Manchester.

On its way: The torch was lit at a special ceremony on the sight of ancient Olympia

On its way: The torch was lit at a special ceremony on the sight of ancient Olympia

'Ben is the perfect person to start the relay in Land's End as he grew up in the area and is an inspirational sportsman who has worked hard to achieve his goals,' Coe said.

'He will kick off what will be an amazing celebration of people and places from all over the UK in the run up to the Olympics Games this summer.'

The torch was lit today at a ceremony at Olympia in Greece and is due to arrive in Britain on May 18.

The planned route for the relay has long been in place and the torch will come within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the population before entering the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony on July 27.

Making the early running: Swimmer Spyros Gianniotis carries the flame where the Games were born

Making the early running: Swimmer Spyros Gianniotis carries the flame where the Games were born

London 2012 Olympics: London"s calling to be perfect host

100 days to go… and London's calling to be the perfect Olympics host

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UPDATED:

23:10 GMT, 17 April 2012

Olympic host cities are branded for life based on how they welcome the world.

Atlanta has never recovered from its commercialisation of the Games. Sydney is famed for reinvigorating the jamboree four years later. Which will London resemble

The belief here is that the slow-burning but deep-seated passion of Britons to rally to major national events, if only at the last minute, will ensure it’s a success.

Pride: 260 guardsmen from the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots and Welsh Guards mark the milestone

Pride: 260 guardsmen from the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots and Welsh Guards mark the milestone

Still chasing tickets

Online: There are 2.5 million tickets still available. These will go on sale on www.london2012.com later this month or early next month. People who previously applied but missed out will be given the first opportunity to buy.

Resale: People who have tickets but no longer want them can submit them for resale through the same website.

Box office: The final few hundred thousand tickets will go on sale at box offices local to the Olympic Park.

Free: You can line the routes of many outdoor races — including the marathons and cycling road races — without spending a penny.

P.S. There are a further 1.5 million tickets for the Paralympic Games yet to be sold.

Look at the royal wedding last year. Even many sceptics were swept along on the day. And, unlike at Beijing four years ago, enthusiasm will not be state-manufactured.

Not that we should subscribe to blind faith.

Transport and security worry many. The fate of the stadium was so ill-thought out from the start that no solution will ever be ideal. The cultural aspect has pandered to every second-rate dauber, rather than embraced what we might call real art, leaving us fearful for the opening ceremony.

Despite those reservations — and a showpiece Downing Street press conference that was memorable for David Cameron’s clanger about pasties rather than his endorsement of the Games — the International Olympic Committee left town after their final inspection smiling and whispering sweet nothings.

London was ready to host a brilliant Games, they said. Stick at it and a gold medal may be in reach for the host city. All that may be true. But it is not the rhetoric that ultimately stirred my spirit as we reach this 100 days to go landmark — the last of the major chronological milestones in a journey that began with London winning the bid in Singapore seven years ago.

For me the World Track Cycling
Championships in Melbourne stands out as the highlight of the last few
months. Yes, even more than test events in the Velodrome and Aquatics
Centres, both of which framed big crowds and gathering excitement.

Why
Because you sensed the culmination of a four-year programme reaching
its climax. You felt London’s pull exert itself on the opposite side of
the planet. Eight world records fell in five disciplines over five days
of fierce competition as everyone — especially the British and
Australian teams — grabbed the bare wire of their Olympic hopes.

Final preparations: The Olympic Park is nearing completion in east London

Final preparations: The Olympic Park is nearing completion in east London

That heightened reality of the life-changing Games arriving at such speed surely echoed in every aspirant Olympian here and abroad.

Final preparations, then, everywhere. Not least for Coe’s organising committee, LOCOG, who mark their own official starting point for the Games as the lighting of the Olympic Flame in Olympia on May 10. The torch then travels over to the United Kingdom for the 70-day relay beginning eight days later.

That may prove to be the point when not just the diehard devotees, but the public — including those who, understandably, wonder whether 9.3billion is a price worth paying — will feel the Olympic spirit touching them as those cyclists did so palpably in Melbourne.

The demand for tickets demonstrates that vast swathes of the population are already swept along.
Four
million more tickets (one million general; one and a half million each
for football and the Paralympics) will go on sale soon after the
football draw on Tuesday.

Drama: Our Olympics Correspondent was captivated by the Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne

Drama: Our Olympics Correspondent was captivated by the Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne

It offers LOCOG and Ticketmaster the chance to show they can run a sale without alienating the disenfranchised. In all, there will be around nine million ticket holders watching 10,000 competitors from 205 nations across 26 sports. They will be augmented by be an eyebrow-raising 25,000 media personnel, apparently not all of them from the BBC.

Even with the reservations, Coe’s organisers have done a superb job of delivering us to the verge of the Games on time and on budget.

Beyond bricks and mortar and all the speech-making, the world’s athletes are counting down to July 27, the start of a party that will shape their lives.

Rome drops out of 2020 Olympics race due to economic crisis

Rome pulls out of bidding to host 2020 Olympics due to economic uncertainty

Rome have dropped out of the race to host the 2020 Olympics and in doing so have given a massive boost to Qatar's hopes.

Rome had been viewed as one of the favourites but their bid was scrapped after Italian premier Mario Monti said the government could not guarantee the necessary financial backing during the economic crisis.

It leaves Tokyo, Doha, Madrid, Istanbul and Baku in the running.

Roman ruin: The Olympic rings behind a marble statue in Italy's capital

Roman ruin: The Olympic rings behind a marble statue in Italy's capital

Not wanted: An anti-Olympic banner during a demonstration in Rome

Not wanted: An anti-Olympic banner during a demonstration in Rome

Doha, who are bidding to host the Games two years before the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar, do not have the financial issues faced by some other bidders.

Spain's current economic problems also put a question mark against Madrid's bid, though bid chiefs there say hosting the Games could help the country recover from the recession which has left 25 per cent unemployment – with a youth jobless rate of 45 per cent.

Italian premier: Mario Monti

Italian premier: Mario Monti

The London 2012 Olympics have cost 9.2billion and a similar sum had been estimated by Rome.

Monti told Italian media: 'We have made a unanimous decision that the Government believes it would be irresponsible to make such guarantees in Italy's current climate.

'We have looked at the plans very carefully and we do not believe it is right to commit Italy to this and risk taxpayers' money.'

Bidding cities have until Wednesday to formally submit their bid file to the International Olympic Committee which includes government financial guarantees.

The election for the 2020 host city takes place next year.

The IOC confirmed that Rome had withdrawn their bid.

An IOC spokesman said: 'We can confirm that Rome has informed the IOC that the city will no longer take part in the 2020 bidding process. We take note of and respect this decision.

'We still have a strong group of applicant cities bidding to host the Olympic Games in 2020 and the IOC looks forward to an exciting competition in the months leading to the election of the host city in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 7 September 2013.'

Alan Fraser: No Rangers? It is simply unthinkable

No Rangers It is simply unthinkable

‘What team do you support’

Other than polite enquiries about health, there is probably no question more frequently asked when two Scottish strangers meet for the first time.
It demands one of two answers. There is little point replying ‘Raith Rovers’.

‘Yeah, but what team do you support’ the questioner would insist. There would be no need to provide the prescribed alternatives, Rangers or Celtic. The stark choice is implied. Deep down, it is said, you have to be one or the other, Rangers or Celtic, protestant or catholic. For this is not just about football. This is about religion and, completing the holy trinity, politics.

The Rangers-Celtic rivalry forms part of Scottish life based on a twisting of religious preference dating back centuries. Prejudice has endless stamina.

On the brink: Rangers have entered administration

On the brink: Rangers have entered administration

While a student in Edinburgh almost 40 years ago, I played football for a team called Lauriston Park 1690. 1690 The year of the Battle of the Boyne, where, in the words of a song still sung by Rangers supporters, ‘the Orangemen with (King) William did join’.

The above admission would surprise those Rangers fans who took part in a campaign of vilification against me after I wrote an article deploring sectarianism a few years ago. And just in case the other lot are appalled by the confession, we named our son Patrick. Maybe, you don’t have to be one or the other.

‘What team do you support’ may be asked in Glasgow and the west of Scotland. But it will also be posed north, south and east, in Northern Ireland and immigrant strongholds such as the USA, Canada, Australia, England and New Zealand. Most major cities in those countries, if not all, boast Rangers (and Celtic) supporters’ clubs. That represents income from merchandising. Rangers can claim to be an iconic global brand.

It is disingenuous for Celtic to claim, as their chief executive did this week, that Celtic ‘don’t need Rangers’. The removal of two home gates alone would affect their coffers. And Sky Sports would certainly not be prepared to pay as much for a Scottish Premier League programme shorn of Old Firm matches.

Rich history: Rangers fans let their feelings be known outside Ibrox

Rich history: Rangers fans let their feelings be known outside Ibrox

Just as tennis genius John McEnroe bemoaned the premature retirement of Bjorn Borg and the attendant diminution of competition, Celtic would surely miss the challenge from their greatest enemy.

There will be the temptation for a gloating feeling in cities such as Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh that Rangers are getting their just deserts for a recent life of high debt and turnover. The same lavish, arrogant and bullying Rangers that ruled Scottish football and did few favours for their provincial inferiors.

But, the possibility of a second-place finish apart, every Scottish club would suffer without Rangers in terms of gate money, cup matches, transfer fees and assorted spin-offs. The spiral of decline of the Scottish game would descend quicker and deeper.

The demise of Rangers would be cataclysmic for Scottish football.

Love them or loathe them, they remain a British sporting institution and not because their supporters brandish the Union flag while singing God Save the Queen and Rule Britannia.

‘It is unthinkable that there will not be a Rangers FC,’ one commentator wrote on Tuesday, apparently in tears not ink. That was from The Belfast Telegraph.