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The snow-covered Olympic Stadium has sparkled under floodlights for the first time.

Prime Minister David Cameron, accompanied by a choir of local schoolchildren, hit the button for the big switch-on which shone a megawatt of light on to the showpiece venue.

It was the first time that all 532 bulbs had been lit together - in a scene that will be repeated during the London 2012 Games.

Mr Cameron joked that the £537 million stadium in Stratford, east London, looked more like a winter Olympic venue with ski-jumper Eddie the Eagle expected at any moment rather than the setting for the London 2012 summer Games.

But he told the 400-strong invited crowd, which included 2012 builders at the site: "It is being delivered on time and on budget thanks to British genius and many of the people here."

Introductions were carried out by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who did not seem aware that the lights take up to eight minutes to reach full power.

"They are coming, they are coming," Mr Johnson told the crowd before all the lights had phased in.

He described it as a "wonderful and historic evening", while also joking that with plans so advanced, including 75% of building work complete, London 2012 might consider holding a snap Olympics now 17 months before the Games "to catch the world napping".

There are 14 lighting towers reaching 70 metres (230ft) above the sports area. They are supporting a total of 532 individual lights.

Mr Cameron also spoke of changes to unpopular plans to cut £162 million from school sport.

 

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The UK's top sports stars hoping to add the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award to their trophy cabinets.

People will be able to vote for the sportsman or woman they think should win after the show starts at 7pm on BBC1, live from Birmingham.

This year's stand-out favourite is AP McCoy, who finally won the Grand National this year on Don't Push It. The 36-year-old has been champion jockey a record 15 times in a row and has ridden more than 3,000 winners.

Graham Sharpe from bookmaker William Hill said: "This year's award has really struck a chord with punters, and with the racing industry getting behind McCoy's cause we have seen a wholesale gamble on Tony McCoy winning.

"If he does we face a six-figure hammering, but as Tony is such a great ambassador for racing, and therefore betting, we won't be unhappy to pay out. One online McCoy fan has gambled the biggest ever Sports Personality bet of £7,000 on McCoy at odds of even money."

Coming up behind the jockey in the list of favourites are golfer Graeme McDowell, who became Europe's first US Open champion for 40 years when he won his maiden major title at Pebble Beach, and darts player Phil Taylor, who collected six majors this year, including the World Championship, Premier League and World Matchplay crowns.

Outside bets are Amy Williams, Britain's first individual Winter Olympics gold medalist for 30 years, Lee Westwood, the world's number one golfer, heptathlete Jessica Ennis, cricketer Graeme Swann, 16-year-old diver Tom Daley, cyclist Mark Cavendish and boxing heavyweight David Haye.

Former England captain David Beckham is to receive the BBC Sports Personality Lifetime Achievement award. The midfielder is 35 and still plays professional football for US side Los Angeles Galaxy. He is England's most capped outfield player and won six Premier League titles and the Champions League with Manchester United. In 2001 Beckham was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

At the end of a year in which England football fans expected so much from the national team at the World Cup in South Africa, there are notably no footballers on the shortlist.

Last year the award was won by Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs.

 

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Revised plans for school sports funding will be announced on Monday after the Government was forced into a U-turn over proposals to axe entirely the Schools Sports Partnership network, it has been reported.

Education Secretary Michael Gove is expected to announce that some elements of the scheme will be retained at least until after the 2012 London Olympics but with much-reduced central funding.

Staff numbers will also be cut and the organisation scaled back under a compromise deal agreed with Cabinet colleagues, the Guardian said.

A change of heart was first signalled by David Cameron on December 1 - just a week after he vigorously defended the plan to axe a scheme he said had been a "complete failure".

It came after world champion diver Tom Daley, 16, and several prominent British Olympic champions were among the signatories to a letter calling for a rethink amid fury from headteachers.

The about-turn is believed to have been timed to coincide with a visit by the Prime Minister to the Olympic stadium in east London to turn on Christmas lights.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was reported to have taken the lead in demanding at least a partial reprieve - arguing scrapping partnerships could harm the UK's pledge to use the Games to increase participation.

The Guardian said the existing £162 million-a-year Department for Education funding would still be stopped from March - and replaced at a much lower level worth "tens of millions" until 2015.

Cash would be drawn from existing education, health and culture budgets.

 

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2010, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Football unites countries and peoples: R. Abramovich (Russia, 2018 World Cup)  and A. Yaroslavsky (Ukraine, UEFA EURO 2012) at Metalist Stadium (Kharkiv)

 

 

The Russian Federation government is going to attract funds of the big business in preparing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This was announced by Russian PM Putin at a press conference dedicated to Russia’s victory in the bidding for World Cup 2018.

"We want to attract business to minimize government expenses on preparing for the championship. I cannot rule out the possibility that Mr Abramovich may take part in a project,” PM Putin said.

The Russian Federation is not the first post-USSR country to count on support of oligarchs when preparing for major international football events. Ukraine hosts the Euro 2012 and it extensively involves both government and private funds.

A significant portion of projects is put in place by partial or complete funding by oligarchs. In many cities, rich businessmen have taken the responsibility for preparing stadiums, airports, hotel facilities and infrastructure. Most oligarchs like Mr Abramovich mentioned by PM Putin own FCs playing in the Eurocup.

Experts believe that Russia will adopt the Ukrainian experience and properly prepare for the 2018 World Cup by reducing government expenses and financial risks.

 

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Russia to host competition.

Despite England putting in a competitive bid, Russia have been appointed as hosts for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. 


Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt said “I, like the whole country, am obviously hugely disappointed with FIFA's decision. England's 2018

team put together a fantastic bid and we can honestly say there is nothing more that we could have done.

I congratulate Russia on being selected and wish them luck for hosting the tournament.”

Culture.gov.uk

David Beckham

 

England bid team gets ready for final presentation

 

The Prime Minister, Jeremy Hunt, David Beckham and Hugh Robertson travel to Zurich today to support England’s World Cup 2018 bid.

“England 2018 would be a great World Cup,” the PM recently told the BBC’s Football Focus show. “I’ll be as passionate as I possibly can be about what England can bring for a 2018 World Cup that’s not just good for football but also good for FIFA and good for the world over.”

 

Final Presentation

 

The England bid team will give their final presentation to FIFA’s Executive Committee on Thursday 2 December, just hours before the final decisions are made over the locations of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup competitions.

“Winning the right to host the 2018 World Cup would be a fantastic opportunity for the country,” said Sports Minister, Hugh Robertson, who will also be in Zurich. “We would put on a fantastic festival of football with supporters from all competing countries welcomed with open arms. The FA also has excellent plans to leave a lasting legacy benefitting the lives of young people around the world.”

The PM met with FIFA President Sepp Blatter at Downing Street in October, to discuss England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Issa Hayatou (NO SALES) This handout image provided by the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa, FIFA SG Jerome Valcke and FIFA LOC Chairman Issa Hayatou attend the 2010 Soccer World Cup Press conference at the CTICC Media Centre on December 2, 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa.

 

Claims of corruption made against Fifa vice-president Issa Hayatou in a BBC documentary are to be investigated by the International Olympic Committee.

Hayatou is also an IOC member and the Panorama programme, broadcast on Monday night, claimed he was given a bribe worth £10,000 in 1995 by the now-defunct marketing company ISL.

The IOC said in a statement: "The IOC has taken note of the allegations made by BBC Panorama and will ask the programme makers to pass on any evidence they may have to the appropriate authorities. The IOC has a zero tolerance against corruption and will refer the matter to the IOC ethics commission."

Three people were accused by Panorama of taking bribes - African confederation president Hayatou, whose vote England's campaign to host the 2018 World Cup had high hopes of capturing, Brazil's Ricardo Terra Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay.

Fifa vice-president Jack Warner is alleged to have tried to buy World Cup tickets to pass on to touts - although the programme accepted he did not actually do so.

According to Panorama he "ordered (2010 World Cup) tickets costing 84,240 US dollars from the Fifa ticket office but the deal subsequently fell through".

The four men are all part of the 22-man committee who will vote on the 2018 and 2022 hosts on Thursday.

Fifa released a statement insisting that the Panorama documentary had simply covered old ground.

The statement read: "The matters concerning the case "ISL/ISMM" which are referred to date back many years ago and were investigated by the relevant authorities in Switzerland. In its verdict of 26 June 2008, the Criminal Court of Zug had not convicted any Fifa officials. It is therefore important to stress again the fact that no Fifa officials were accused of any criminal offence in these proceedings.

"Furthermore, it is important to recall that the decision was made on matters which took place prior to the year 2000 and there has been no court conviction against Fifa. The investigation and the case are definitely closed."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2010, All Rights Reserved.

David Beckham

 

 If David Beckham is the A-Rod of soccer — and with the pretty-boy looks and obnoxious insincerity he's off to a good start — then the rest of Major League Soccer is the Florida Marlins. The latest survey shows the Galaxy star makes $6.5 million, more than 43 times the league average and well ahead of the next-best team, the Chicago Fire.

 

If you love to watch great and interesting sports? Then news of London's Olympic Games for 2012 would have already tempted you. London becomes the only city in the world to host three great Olympic Games by 2012, it is one of the most exciting news for people of United Kingdom. Would you like to be a part of this excitement?