Athletics chief hails big crowd

Athletics chief hails big crowd

LONDON - Agence France-Presse / The Associated Press
The head of world athletics Lamine Diack said it was “wonderful” to see an 80,000 sell-out crowd at the opening athletics session at London’s Olympic Stadium on Aug. 3.

Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said he could not recall a similar turnout for the morning athletics sessions in past Olympics. “It was wonderful to arrive at the Olympic Games this morning and see a totally packed stadium for the first session of athletics,” the IAAF president said.

“I do not remember the last time this happened and it shows the great affection Britain has for our sport.

“(Local organisers) LOCOG has done a great job and we are excited about the rest of the athletics programme, since the athletes will definitely be inspired by crowds like this.”

The only disappointment on the day was that a main subway line to London’s Olympic Park was briefly suspended in the morning, but officials said the transit system was coping despite some upheavals.

Some 200,000 people were expected at Olympic Park on the first day of track and field competition.

Transport for London said service on the Central Line, which links central London with the Olympic Park, had been briefly suspended because of a power failure that affected its signals. Officials said full service was resumed by 9 a.m. after a partial suspension that lasted more than an hour.

Olympic fans quickly switched to other lines, causing further overcrowding. At St. Pancras station, where fast Javelin trains run to the Olympic site, lines stretched across the concourse, out the door and down the street in the morning.

Officials have warned Londoners for weeks that the games would bring pressure and crowding on public transport, but so far the system has largely coped. Transport for London says passenger numbers are up 10 percent on usual levels for this time of year.