Uh-oh, trouble at t'mill.

As the rain soaked the Olympics for the first time yesterday, some best-laid plans dissolved into farce.

There was a chance to take in the latest incarnation of the USA's "Dream Team" against a strong France side that included San Antonio Spurs' superstar point guard Tony Parker. What sports lover would turn down the opportunity?

This was no basketball arena, however - more like Dante's seventh circle.


For reasons known only to the Olympic organising committee, the attractiveness of this match-up seemed to escape venue chiefs. It was hopelessly over-subscribed and ill-prepared for the influx of worldwide media expecting a seat.

Hordes of angry, mainly French journalists stormed the gangways. They were no match for one slight but feisty Englishwoman blocking access to the stairs while screeching "battre en retraite", or something like that.

Some of the more determined journos were guided to the controversial and seemingly eternally unoccupied Olympic Family seating. Unfortunately, the guests of Omega showed appalling timing, appearing en masse early in the second quarter.

It was a very grumpy au revoir from the basketball, as the evicted were ushered past scores who were still trying in vain to breach the first line of defence.

This is not the first time organisers have been caught off guard by an event's profile. Despite Britain's emergence as a cycling superpower, the press venue at The Mall suggested they expected but a few aficionados from specialist pedalling mags to turn up.

Instead, we had Sports Illustrated journalists tripping over ethernet cables while trying to negotiate writers from major dailies sitting on the floor, under tables, anywhere they could find space.

This absence of personal space, or any kind of space, allied to lengthy queues to get in and out of venues, whether you're media or a paying customer, is starting to bother a lot of people, especially when there are banks upon banks of empty seats at even premier events.

British swimmer Rebecca Adlington's sister Chloe tweeted her disgust that she was stuck up the back of the aquatic stadium, barely able to see her sibling win bronze in the 400m freestyle, while hundreds of sponsors' seats in prime positions went unused.

"We're soooo high up! Annoying when there are so many empty corporate seats lower down :-(."

The Olympic organisers say they are working on the problem, but it's difficult to see how it got to this point. Some of the big papers here are labelling it an embarrassment. Perhaps they will be shamed into giving some of these seats back to the public.

If they don't want them, there are a few French journalists who do.

* For the record: The Dream Team beat France 98-71.