Banquet of the Breathtaking
The London Olympics flagged off on July 27. The 17-day event will be a grand spectacle involving 26 sports, 10,500 athletes and millions of spectators.
The Olympic Games began as a series of athletic competitions in Ancient Greece held in honour of Zeus, the Greek god of the sky. The exact origins of the Games are shrouded in myth and legend but records indicate that they began in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece. The modern Olympic Games began in 1896.
Host cities are selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), usually seven years in advance. In the first stage, any city may apply. IOC decides which of the applicant cities will become official candidates. In the second stage, the candidate cities are evaluated by an Evaluation Commission, which then submits the final list. The host city is then chosen by a vote at the IOC Session - a general meeting of its members.
The list of Olympic sports gradually increased until the early 2000s, when IOC decided to cap the list at 28. However, at the 2012 Olympic Games, the number of events will be 26 following an IOC decision in 2005 to remove baseball and softball.
India first participated in 1900, with a lone athlete (Norman Pritchard) winning two medals in athletics. The nation first sent a team to the 1920 Olympics, and has participated in every Games since then. Its athletes have won a total of 20 medals, mostly in hockey. In 2008, shooter Abhinav Bindra won the first individual gold medal.
A 142-member Indian contingent, comprising 81 athletes and 36 coaches, has been approved for the London Olympics. The contingent will participate in 13 sports.
Convict's Day Off?
Every one gets days off from work - why not jailed convicts? Is doing time behind bars a form of 'work' too? When the parole plea of a Mumbai convict was recently rejected, he wrote to the Bombay High Court suggesting prisoners be treated on a par with government servants and given casual and sick leave from prison. The division bench which took up his case did not agree with him.
Raise a Toast
A piece of toast left uneaten by Prince Charles on the day he married Diana 31 years ago sold for »230 at an auction. Two bidders fought it out over the slice of white bread, which went under the hammer at Charles Hanson Auctioneers in Etwall, Derby. The slice had been billed as the 'world's most upper-crust piece of toast'. It was sold on behalf of Rosemarie Smith, whose daughter was a royal maid for almost three decades.
At Snail's Pace
None of the six tourism projects in Goa sanctioned by the Centre over the last three years is anywhere near completion. The proposal to set up an Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology was stopped after the locals claimed it would destroy the sanctity of a nearby temple. Other projects too appear stalled indefinitely.
Compiled by Basudha Das