London spins gold with tourism numbers

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Let the London Olympics Economics Games Begin!

Whatever happens during an Olympics, it takes some time to accurately measure how successful a Games was for the host city. Lots of questions have to be answered about the long-term viability of the permanent venues; the success or failure of the typical revitalization of the neighborhoods that usually surround the Olympic Village; and, perhaps most importantly, the short- and long-term economic benefits to the host city and nation.

The tally on the economic piece of that puzzle is starting to filter in and how one reads the verdict depends on how they view interior volumes of half-full drinking glasses. That’s because, according to figures out last week, instead of getting an Olympic bump in tourism London actually saw seven percent fewer visitors to the capital city than in 2011.

Yet, despite that disappointing figure, tourism revenue actually hit an all-time high in August: 2.38 billion pounds (that’s 3.82 billion dollars to you Americans out there).

Analysts claim that the jump in revenue was the result of those visitors who did come spent their money freely. Very freely, actually: Average spending in London during August was supposedly over 1,000 pounds a second (there’s no sense in applying the pound-dollar conversion rate for such an odd statistic).

Naturally the British government and tourism officials are taking the positive spin on this and chalking this up in the “London 2012 Games Were A Smashing, Historic Success – Hooray For Great Britain!” category. Grumpy British sourpusses are putting it in the “We Beg To Differ – Politely, Of Course, Because We’re British” column, and one particularly dour Briton who lives and dies by the tourism trade flatly refused to accept the government’s shiny, happy view of the numbers.

“From pubs, to theatres, to shops and taxi drivers, there is not a single person I have spoken to since the Olympics that did not suffer,” he told The Independent. “The Games were a roaring success – it’s a great shame that we can’t say the same for British tourism in 2012.”

It’s unclear where all of the extra money spent went if not to pubs, theatre, shops and taxi drivers, but it seems likely that this guy is more concerned with the amount of oxygen than beer in his pint glass when he goes out drinking. Maybe because he doesn’t have a ton of money to throw around right now.

U.S. senators speak up as women’s hockey worlds near with no resolution

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixteen U.S. senators wrote a letter to USA Hockey’s executive director Monday over their concerns about the treatment of the women’s national team.

Players have threatened to boycott the upcoming world championships over a wage dispute. The senators, all Democrats, urged David Ogrean to resolve the matter and ensure the team receives “equitable resources.” They cited the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

USA Hockey’s board of directors meets Monday, and players said Sunday night they hope there’s a deal.

The senators, all Democrats, joined a chorus of support that includes unions representing players from the NHL, NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. Those organizations said over the weekend they stood with the women’s team and criticized USA Hockey for attempting to find replacement players.

Prominent NHL agent Allan Walsh tweeted Sunday, “Word circulating among NHL players that American players will refuse to play in men’s World Championships in solidarity with the women.”

Zach Bogosian, an American-born Buffalo Sabres defenseman, went to high school with U.S. captain Meghan Duggan. He tweeted his support and said he hopes the dispute is resolved.

The U.S. is the defending champion at the International Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, which begins Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

In negotiations over the past 15 months, players have asked for a four-year contract that pays them outside the six-month Olympic period. The senators’ letter notes the $6,000 that players earn around the Olympics and USA Hockey’s $3.5 million annual spending on the men’s national team development program and other discrepancies.

“These elite athletes indeed deserve fairness and respect, and we hope you will be a leader on this issue as women continue to push for equality in athletics,” the senators wrote.

In a statement Sunday night, players said they hoped USA Hockey would approve terms discussed during a meeting last week. They said the agreement has the “potential to be a game changer for everyone.”

The letter was signed by: Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Patty Murray of Washington, Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Robert Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

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Ugandan Olympian’s body shuts down at World Cross-Country Champs (video)

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Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei went from leading the race to finishing 30th in the final kilometer at the World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda, on Sunday.

Cheptegei, a 20-year-old Olympian, saw his body shut down in the last four minutes of his race.

His stride shortened. His pace slowed. Cheptegei appeared on the verge of falling. At one point, a teammate deliberately pushed him from behind to keep going.

Cheptegei led by 12 seconds going into the final two-kilometer lap. He would finish 1 minute, 44 seconds behind Kenyan winner Geoffrey Kamworor, with 28 other runners separating them after the 10km race that took about a half-hour.

Cheptegei’s body movement looked similar to that of British triathlete Jonny Brownlee, who had to be helped to the finish line by brother Alistair Brownlee at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico, in September.

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