Olympics: Off the track - July 26

By Paul Harper

Greece's Voula Papachristou's tweeting landed her in the fire. Photo / AP
Greece's Voula Papachristou's tweeting landed her in the fire. Photo / AP

The London Olympics will be remembered as much for what happens off the track as on it. Herald.co.nz reporter - and third fastest runner in his class at Edendale Primary School - Paul Harper sums up the incidents and controversy surrounding the games.

Flag gets North Koreans off side

North Korea is not so fond of their cousins to the south. So you can imagine that the North Korean women's football team was not best pleased when their southern counterparts' flag was displayed on the big screen as the squad was announced at Hampden Park, ahead of their opening Olympic clash with Colombia. Aggrieved, the North Koreans left the field. About 40 minutes later the teams returned to warm-up, but the game did not kick off until 1 hour and 5 minutes after the game was supposed to kick off. The delay did not deter the women from north of the 38th parallel, who beat Colombia 2-0.

Like Nike but not quite

After a bloody revolution last year, culminating in the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak, it is remarkable Egypt has managed to send 112 athletes to the London Games. However dressing the squad has proven to be a challenge. Athletes have complained that they have been given Nike and Adidas knock-offs, and have had to dip into their own pockets to ensure they have adequate training gear. Athletes were given "Nike" bags, for example, which had "Adidas" written on the zippers. The country's committee chairperson General Mahmoud Ahmed told AP they signed with a Chinese distributor "in light of Egypt's economic situation", and the gear is "sufficient". Nike, for its part, is "highly concerned" by the allegations.

Jets scrambled over errant aircraft

With a missile launchers stationed on the roofs of building's around London, pilots would be advised to avoid flying into the restricted airspace above the skies of the capital. But that's just what one commercial airline pilot did. A Royal Air Force Typhoon jet was scrambled after air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft. Fortunately contact was restored and the jet returned to base, but the incident reflected the heightened tension ahead of the Games.

Greek faces heat over racist Tweet
The far-right party Golden Dawn may have won 7 percent in the recent Greek parliamentary elections, but a Greek Olympic athlete's dream is over after she tweeted support for the party and mocked African immigrants on the social media site. Triple jumper Voula Papachristou has been dropped from the Greek team following the racist statements, which the Hellenic Olympic Committee said were "contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement". Papachristou has since deleted the tweets and apologised.

Should Aussie swimmer be slimmer?
Australian swimmer Leisel Jones won gold in Beijing, but some media across the ditch reckon the 26-year-old is not in shape to defend her 100m backstroke title, with papers comparing her streamlined figure four years ago with recent poolside pics. Australian Olympic officials and Jones' fellow athletes have leapt to her defence and slammed the reports, but Jones herself seems to have brushed off the controversy.
"I'm so relaxed, and I'm just really enjoying everything about these Games and the lead-up," Jones says.

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