EYES ON LONDON: Music time, damaged Ukraine pride

LONDON (AP) — Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:


To celebrate the torch's arrival in London a concert is being held in Hyde Park on Thursday — the same place where the plug was pulled on Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen a few weeks ago after they violated a curfew.

Rees Ianson, 32, was a torch bearer in the north of England and so was given the opportunity to get tickets.

"I jumped at the chance, I'm looking forward to it," says the sales manager from Lincolnshire who was nominated as a torch runner for his charity work.

He's not just down for the concert. Rees also has tickets for basketball and hockey. "I can't wait," he said on his way to the gig featuring the likes of Mark Ronson and Dizzie Rascal.

—Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb


Kazakhstan is trying to replace two of its male Olympic weightlifters at the 11th hour, possibly because of citizenship issues.

The two are Arli Chontei, in the 56-kilogram category, and Farkhad Kharki, in the 62-kilogram category.

International Weightlifting Federation spokeswoman Aniko Nemeth-Mora says Kazakhstan is citing medical reasons. However, Kazakh weightlifting official Mendikhan Tapsiruly tells AP that "this is most likely to do with the fact they were granted citizenship recently."

Both lifters are originally from China. Two other lifters in Kazakhstan's team were recruited from China, while one switched nationalities from Russia.

—Karl Ritter — Twitter http://twitter.com/Karl-Ritter


Russia's Olympic committee is laying claim to over a dozen athletes born in once-Soviet Ukraine. And it's sparked an outcry in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.

Some athletes are listed as born in the "Ukraine region" of Russia, while others are listed as coming from the Ukrainian cities of Lutsk and Lviv, which were described as Russian.

Similar mistakes were made for Georgia-born athletes.

Russia's Olympic Committee is now working to correct the data. But it's done little to appease widespread resentment as a result of centuries of Russian dominance which ended when Ukraine gained its independence in 1991.

—Vladimir Isachenkov — Twitter http://twitter.com/visachenkov


A Greek athlete has failed a doping test and is out of the Olympics. High jump champion Dimitris Chondrokoukis has tested positive for the steroid stanozolol.

His father — and coach — says the news is "surreal" and is asking for a follow-up test.

—Graham Dunbar — Twitter http://twitter.com/gdunbarap


The ruling has come down: Saudi Arabia's female judo competitor will not be allowed to wear a hijab during her matches.

Asian judo federations allow them, but in London the veil has been deemed dangerous. Judo includes strangleholds and chokeholds — and organizers think that could prove even more painful if there's something to tug.

They also think judo should be free of religion and politics.

Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani is one of two female Saudi athletes here. The kingdom is allowing them to compete after the International Olympic Committee and human rights groups exerted intense pressure for an end to its practice of sending all-male teams to the games.

—Maria Cheng — Twitter http://twitter.com/mylcheng


People are being let back into the mall. No word yet on what triggered the alarm or what led authorities to declare the area safe again.

—Diana Ingram


AP staff at Westfield Mall, just outside Olympic Park and its security perimeter, say everyone has been told to vacate the mall. An alarm is sounding.

People are gathering outside and being forbidden to go back in.

—Diana Ingram


The line to pick up event tickets at the City of Westminster College will-call is snaking through the campus Thursday with fans anxious to get their hands on the prized item. Among them: Michael Perkowski, a contractor for the U.S. military who drove directly to get his tickets after his plane touched down from Afghanistan.

Perkowski says his ticket-buying odyssey began 18 months ago when he was working for the Army in Iraq. He went through the early bidding process and finally scored tickets to three of his 24 choices within the last few months.

Now in Afghanistan working with the U.S. Marine Corps, he says he was coming to the Games regardless of what tickets he landed.

"I don't take too many vacations, so I was doing this no matter what," he says. "We took that long flight, drove forever to come straight here but I don't care. It's all worth it."

Get a glimpse here. http://img.ly/lfxS

—Jenna Fryer — Twitter http://twitter.com/jennafryer


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