A beach volleyball test event for next year’s London Olympics was rescheduled to finish almost three hours early on Tuesday because of security concerns following three days of rioting and looting in the British capital.
Organizers decided to use two courts instead of one for Tuesday’s 12 matches so that spectators, staff and volunteers could leave before dark. One of the two practice courts at Horse Guards Parade in central London was opened for matches.
FIVB Beach Volleyball director Angelo Squeo, who was on site during the Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Games, said he consulted with high-ranking London Olympic organizers and police before taking the decision.
“I follow what they tell me, what we should do in order to be safe,” Squeo said. “I will do whatever in order to not put in danger — not even risk putting in danger — anybody here.”
“We don’t want the volunteers — some 13 years old or 14 years old — to be involved in these kind of things,” he said.
Squeo said that event planning had developed considerably since the 1996 Summer Games, which were hit by a backpack bomb that killed one person.
“In Atlanta, we had the bomb and I was left with 11,000 people outside the venue and I did not know if I had the green light or red light,” Squeo said. “Now there are contingencies. At the time there was nothing. It was: ‘OK, let them in, no let them out.’”
“We are prepared now to use the warmup courts, be done in three hours, shut the venue, inform everybody,” Squeo said.
Soccer teams have home and away shirts, tennis and golf stars have clothes and gear with sponsored logos, but if you’re a female beach volleyball star there’s not a lot of costume real estate to hire out to the marketing folks.
That’s why British beach volleyball stars Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney will be sporting a teensy weensy high-tech barcode on their itsy bitsy bikini bottoms when they compete in a high-profile London tournament this week.
The Olympic pairing — ranked 26th in the world — will have a Quick Response (QR) code on their costumes at the Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International, an intercontinental women’s volleyball exhibition.
When photographed on a smartphone, the QR matrix barcode directs users straight to a specific Web site, in this case a site owned by online sports betting company Betfair.
The barcode, part of a sponsorship deal with Betfair, will be printed on the back of the bikini bottoms, where advertisers think it will attract the most attention.
“There is huge interest in beach volleyball and we want to ensure that our advertising campaign is seen and remembered by as many sports fans as possible,” Betfair’s Andy Lulham said in a statement. “As far as we’re aware, this is the first time QR codes have been used in in-play sports advertising and what better way to test its effectiveness than by putting them on one of the places that is likely to get photographed the most.”
The tournament, which is part of the official London Olympic Games sports testing program, takes place in Horse Guards Parade in London, the ceremonial grounds which hosts the Trooping the Colour each year on the Queen’s birthday.
This venue will host the London Olympic Games’ beach volleyball tournament in a temporary arena, which will be built next year and have a capacity of 15,000.