Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Now here's something the United States, Russia, and Iran can all agree on: Wrestling should stay in the Olympics. Mike Novogratz is leading the campaign to save the sport's place in the Olympics.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
In a shocking crime story for an Olympic legend, double amputee South African runner Oscar Pistorious, who became the first such runner to compete in the Olympics, has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, 30-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp. Lydia Polgreen is the Johannesburg bureau chief for our partner, The New York Times.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Seven years ago, London beat out New York in the competition to host the 2012 Olympics. So with the lights snuffed out on the dazzling cauldron of torches at London's Olympic Stadium, it becomes official: New York wins in the tourist Olympics, even without the games.
Over the past two weeks, New York beat London in tourists-per-day by a score of 538,000 to 429,000. New York's hotel occupancy was higher too, at 93 percent compared to London's 80 percent. These numbers come from NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy. The two cities are roughly the same size, so it's not a population disparity.
The authors, Professor Mitchell Moss and Carson Qing, cited average figures from tourism boards in the two cities. Moss says New York's loss to London in a bid to land the Olympics, wasn't so bad after all: "The key point about the Olympics is that the people who go there, they go to watch the sports. Tourists who come to NY, they come here to shop, they come to look at other people, they come here to go to the museums."
Moss posits that fear of Olympic crowding led non-games-related tourists to cancel or postpone their trips to London. He's also a New Yorker.
According to the report, New York also far outstripped London in museum and theater attendance over the past two Olympic weeks, though the researchers regrettably neglected crunching the numbers to compare Olympic men's field hockey attendance with recent Mets games.
Monday, August 13, 2012
The 2012 Olympics may be over, but that hasn't stopped the Olympic baton. The Takeaway goes to Rio de Janiero, where plans are very much underway to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
Monday, August 13, 2012
There is something slightly different about London's Olympic medal ceremonies: the music. This year, the London Philharmonic recorded all 205 of the world's national anthems. Composer Philip Sheppard and sound engineer Jake Jackson were in charge of the effort.
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
(Joe Peach -- This Big City) The map of London’s underground network is truly iconic. Designed in 1931 by London Underground employee Harry Beck, it sacrifices geographical accuracy for a diagrammatic approach, with strict design rules that are flexible with the geographical truth transforming a potentially sprawling and confusing transit map into a logical and almost immediately understandable urban utility.
However, as London’s underground network ages and continues to carry millions of passengers every day, the true cost of sacrificing geographical accuracy is becoming more obvious. Beck used straight lines in place of the city’s snaking routes, and almost equidistant spacing between stations when some are strangely close to one another. The end result is that many London Underground users change lines to reach their destination when walking would be much quicker, or take routes that appear shortest on the map, but in fact aren’t the most speedy option.
Until recently, Transport for London (TfL) – the government body responsible for the underground network – has not considered this much of an issue. Sure, they encouraged app development by releasing data from the network to developers at no cost, but the underground map and all related signage have remained largely the same. Until now.
With millions of visitors in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the city’s transport network is under more pressure than ever before. If you want to head to the Olympics, chances are you’ll get the next tube to Stratford, even though there are countless other stations that link to Olympic sites. Aware of the challenges of dealing with millions of extra riders, most of whom won’t be local and will be relying on geographically flawed signage for directions, TfL have made some temporary updates.
Route maps on underground carriages, like the one pictured above, are now littered with pink boxes pointing out which stations can be used to access Olympic events. This photo shows what you’ll find if you take the Jubilee Line, and London’s 12 other lines are all looking pretty similar. Though relatively minor additions, they represent a pretty radical development for a map that has barely changed its visual approach in eight decades.
If pink isn’t your favorite color, probably best to find another transport option for the next few weeks as the new signage doesn’t stop there. (See TN's previous coverage with pic of pink clad transport workers here). Previously, on your way out from an underground station you could be greeted by multiple possible exits. These exists are either numbered or differentiated by the road they exit onto, but for a visitor to the city with one thing on their mind, this information is not enough. So the pink boxes are put to use once again, plastering walls with their straightforward directions to those key places TfL knows you are heading.
If, like many of the locals, you are refraining from looking up to avoid making eye contact with your fellow travellers (awkward), the floor is also your friend for the next few weeks. Pink circles clearly pointing out which direction you need to go in have become a common site on the ground at some of the city’s larger stations.
London’s underground network is the oldest in the world, and as a result many stations are named after once-significant local features (in fact, much of London is named after once-significant local features). The effect of this is the present-day destinations they largely exist to serve rarely get prominent placement on signage, with obvious potential for confusion among travellers. Though investment in technology and improved infrastructure is critical for the London Underground to remain efficient (and TfL is doing both of these things), improving the design of the network’s wayfinding tools also plays a key role. A functional city needs citizens and visitors that are well-informed, and with TfL rethinking its underground map and signage, London has become that little bit easier to get around, for locals and visitors alike.
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
While most of us are accustomed to seeing women play soccer and none of us bat an eye at women running, men are still prohibited from competing in some sports — specifically synchronized swimming. An all-male synchronized swimming team in London has petitioned the International Olympic Committee to change that.
Friday, August 03, 2012
As they compete on the international stage for the highest glory in their chosen fields, they aren't car-bombing each other. There aren't drone attacks among the rival teams. There are no "collateral damages" in their contests.
Friday, August 03, 2012
Can you define the word “fletching”? Do you know what the branches are called in the ancient Olympians’ crowns? And for that matter, did you even know what dressage was before Anne Romney’s horse began competing in it?
Friday, August 03, 2012
Many TV watchers were upset this week with NBC's insistence on showing much of their Olympic coverage on a tape delay. The network didn't help matters by spoiling events they hadn't yet screened. Time Magazine TV Critic James Ponowozik explains why NBC refuses to offer the most anticipated events live.
Thursday, August 02, 2012
London 2012 Olympics’ new sponsorship protection rules are some of the strictest yet, but they’re also a bit complicated. It’s no surprise that there’s been more than a little confusion as monitors, enforcers, businesses and fans try to decipher what will and won’t be allowed.
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Fred Mogul will be on the Brian Lehrer Show Wednesday morning to discuss his reporting on this story.
(Fred Mogul - New York, NY, WNYC) Two fencers duel on a New York City sidewalk. One scores a hit. The other concedes. The winner claims the elusive, available taxi.
A woman weightlifter hoists a grocery-filled granny cart over her shoulders, crosses the neighborhood and climbs the stairs of a walk-up.
The images come from a pair of ads, back in 2005, with the tagline: “The Olympic Games in New York. We’ve been training for this forever. NYC-2012.”
But the training wasn’t enough. Seven years ago, London defeated New York City’s bid to host the XXX Summer Olympiad, and the results are on stage for all the world to see.
But what if the Big Apple had won? What would the games have looked like, and what would their legacy be? And would New Yorkers be any less ambivalent about the Olympics in 2012 than they were in 2005?
For one, there certainly would be a wealth of new structures.
Runners would be sprinting in an Olympic Stadium overlooking either the Hudson River or Flushing Bay.
Swimmers would be freestyling in a new aquatic center on the Williamsburg waterfront.
Cyclists would be zipping around a velodrome in the Bronx.
And thousands of athletes would be staying in the new Olympic Village, an apartment building in Long Island City, Queens, across the East River from the United Nations.
Most of the proposed facilities now exist only in the bid books the city and the non-profit NYC-2012 presented to the International Olympic Committee. But a handful of projects have been developed, even without the games. New York’s proposal emphasized that most of what the city would build was necessary, anyway. The Olympic legacy would pay dividends for generations to come, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others argued.
Mitchell Moss, an urban policy professor at NYU and a self-described “informal advisor” to Bloomberg, says so many things have, in fact, been built or are under construction from the Olympic bid that the city really did win the Olympics, figuratively speaking.
“The net effect of having this is that we basically took underused parts of our city and put them to use,” said Moss. “The Olympics are 17 days of sports, but what New York got is a century’s worth of new housing and infrastructure.”
Moss cites the following as Olympics-inspired triumphs:
- The No. 7 subway is being extended from Grand Central Terminal to 11th Avenue. After several delays, the MTA says it’s schedule to open in mid 2014 and be fully completed at the end of 2015.
- The revised Olympic stadium evolved into Citi Field, the home of the Mets, since 2009.
- The would-be gymnastics center became the soon-to-open home of the Brooklyn Nets, Atlantic Yards.
- A sports and cultural center at the 169th Street Armory in Harlem and a new aquatic center and ice rink in Flushing Meadows, Queens, were stalled 1990s projects, until the Olympic bid renewed pressure to fund them, bringing them to completion a few years later.
Less concrete — both literally and figuratively — victories are the Hudson rail yard on the far West Side of Manhattan and Hunters Point in Queens. Moss said the two massive industrial sites had been targeted for redevelopment for decades, but were always captive to controversy and inertia.
Moss puts them in the “win” column, arguing that pressure from the Olympics bid led to their rezoning for residential and commercial use.
“These were all tied to the Olympic [bid] deadline,” Moss said.
But Greg David isn’t so sanguine. The Crain’s Business columnist and CUNY professor calls the far West Side and Hunters Point — by far the biggest challenges before, during and since the Olympic proposal — Exhibits A and B of premature self-congratulation. Both sites have a handful of new buildings, but full development could take decades.
“It isn’t true ‘We won by losing,’ because [hosting] the Olympics would’ve pushed this agenda much further ahead,” David said. “Look at the Hudson rail yards. It’s supposed to be the next great Rockefeller Center. Well, the Olympics are about to start in London, and we’re not about to put the platform up that’s needed for that development, because there aren’t any tenants for it yet.”
New Yorkers were divided in 2005 about the merits of hosting the Olympics, and they continue to split over whether the crowds that would’ve converged and the development that would have ensued would have been good or bad for the metropolitan area.
“I think it would have been lots of fun and definitely help the area a lot,” said Kevin Li, 26, outside the Aquatic Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, where water polo games were slated to be held under the city’s proposal.
Nearby, Wayne Conti, 60, disagreed.
“Sometimes it turns out afterwards that in their rush to build they didn’t really build the right things and you’re kind of stuck with it afterwards,” he said.
Andrew Wong, 40, a Queens resident who works on the Far West Side sees both sides.
“For most of us regular working folks it would have wreaked havoc on our everyday lives,” he said.
But he noted development in the area, which is inevitable, would have moved forward more quickly and coherently, if the city had to build a stadium and whip the largely industrial area into shape by 2012.
“When you have a deadline everything falls into place. All the politics, all the deadlock with the government — everybody finds a way to make things happen. When you don't have a deadline, everything stretches out forever.”
Perhaps not forever. But for Hudson Yards, Hunters Point and other areas in the city’s Olympic bid book, it could take a while.
Whether New Yorkers think that’s a good or bad thing depends on whether they believe urban development, like the Olympics, should be Faster, Higher, Stronger — or they prefer a different approach, like Slow and steady wins the race.
Guia Maria Del Prado and Jorteh Senah contributed reporting
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
The International Olympics Committee’s "Rule 40" prevents athletes from promoting brands other than the official Olympic sponsors during the days before and during the Games. But some athletes say the new guidelines could hurt their ability to fund their Olympic careers and training.
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
London's transportation network has survived the first workday of the Olympic Games -- and, according to one transit user, is well organized. And colorful.
WNYC's Kathleen Ehrlich is in London this week, so we've tasked her to be TN's official Olympic transport correspondent. (Vacation time be damned!) She shared with us her impressions of the first weekday of the Games. "The system is crowded, but holding up," she says.
View a slideshow of photos from the London Olympics (all photos by Steven Z. Ehrlich)
Kathleen says the flow of foot traffic on the rail system is being carefully controlled. "Many routes were adjusted so that at certain busy stations you can only get on or get off at certain parts of the day," she says, "or you can only enter or exit through certain entrances." And there's a lot of help for transit riders. "Tube stations/train stations are staffed with large numbers of volunteers as well as extra workers," she says. "The people helping out have been cheerful and knowledgeable. The system is spotlessly clean. Workers are giving people free rides on the tube if people are having issues with their Oysters and getting them on their way is taking priority over making sure everyone is paying."
If there are issues, it's easy to ID help. The four official colors of the 2012 Olympics are pink, blue, green and orange -- colors that, according to the official website, "were carefully chosen to communicate the spirit of the London 2012 Games: energetic, spirited, bright and youthful."
Not to mention unmissable.
"It stands out," says Kathleen. "Nothing else is fuchsia. So as soon as you see it, you know it's about the Olympics and likely about travel."
So far, the transit system seems to be keeping people off the roads. Boris Johnson, London's mayor, told ITV that "we've been able to turn off a lot of the Games lanes because so many people are going by public transport."
Friday, July 27, 2012
This week: Kristen cheats on Robert Pattinson at the Summer Games while the neighborhood watches. No, that can't be right. Rafer is an expert on Olympic events. No, that's certainly not right, either.
We're all so upset over Kristen Stewart's diss of R-Patts, we don't know what's what. All of that will get ...