New Zealand athletes will be able to settle their nerves by puffing on a cigarette without feeling like complete outcasts at the London Games.

Designated smoking areas have been set up in the Olympic village and while it might not embody the Games' creed of faster, higher, stronger, organisers cannot be accused of discrimination.

New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie said: "I was surprised [they're doing it] but the pragmatist in me prevailed. I was going to raise it at the chefs meeting and rant and rave but my experience is that in a village some people smoke and you usually find piles of cigarette butts in furtive corners.

"It's a bit of a 'name and shame' approach I suppose because these things are right in middle of walkways and people use them to smoke. Ideally it'd be great if they didn't have them but it is probably a better option than people lurking in odd places.


"It is the first time I can recall there has been a smoking pod. I haven't seen any of the New Zealand team in the smoking pod so far."

When Mark Todd won his first Olympic gold medal on Charisma in 1984 he nervously dragged on a cigarette as the competition leader, American Karen Stives, took to the showjumping ring. Stives knocked off a rail on the penultimate jump, and Todd took gold. Todd is to compete in his seventh Olympics when the three-day eventing starts next week.

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Peter Snell used to work for cigarette manufacturer Rothmans.