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IOC president says London prepared for Summer Games

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge expressed confidence in London’s preparations for the Games ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony.

Rogge said London was as prepared as other cities who have hosted the Games recently.

“These Games equal the readiness of Sydney and Beijing … But the proof of the pudding is in the eating so perhaps ask me the same question after the closing ceremony,” he said.

U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney ruffled feathers when he suggested London wasn’t ready for the massive event. He said he found problems in the lead-up to the Games, including a last-minute lack of security staff, “disconcerting.”

Romney was chief executive of the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002.

Prime Minister David Cameron replied to the barb and noted the 2012 Games are being held in a massive city, and not “in the middle of nowhere.”

Rogge said that he had no idea who would light the Olympic cauldron in the stadium — he said there was a policy that the fewer people who knew, the less likely a leak.

“I don’t know, this is one of the best-kept secrets and we have an arrangement with the organizing committees always — it is your responsibility and we need not to know, because the more people know the bigger the danger of a leak,” he said, adding that it was wise for London not to try to compete with the Beijing opening ceremony.

“The opening ceremony here will be different and I believe it is wise for London not to emulate the opening ceremony of Beijing.

“You will see something about the history and about the way of life and what I would call the Britishness, the same way you had in the same situation in Beijing. So the teams are not that different. The size of the country is different and there is also something that London can bring that no other country in the world can bring. Great Britain was the cradle of modern sport because you invented modern sport in the second half of the nineteenth century.”

Asked about unsold tickets for the closing ceremony Rogge said it was a matter for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).

The Games program sees home favourite Mark Cavendish competing in the cycling road race on Saturday amid much expectation following his disappointing performance in Beijing, where he was the only British rider to come home without a medal.

Canadian athletes brought home 18 medals from the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing — three gold, nine silver and six bronze.

Rogge said the International Olympic Committee’s efforts for a clean Olympics were bearing fruit.

On Wednesday nine track and field athletes were handed lengthy bans by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for doping violations.

Separately, women’s 1,500 metres medal contender Mariem Alaoui Selsouli of Morocco and Greece’s world indoor high jump champion Dimitris Chondrokoukis were also confirmed to have tested positive this week before arriving in London.

“This is proof that the system works and that the system is effective and the system is a deterrent,” Rogge said.

The nine athletes, including leading marathon runner Moroccan Abderrahim Goumri, were all caught by the IAAF with the aid of the Athlete Biological Passport program, which tracks athletes’ blood data over time to note any abnormalities.

Rogge said while not all sports could immediately benefit from this system due to their nature, he would like the program to be extended.

There will be around 6,250 samples analyzed at the Games, more than any other Olympics, while U.K. Anti-Doping agency has also been mandated to test in pre-competition training camps. There were 20 proven cases of doping at the Beijing Games four years ago, including six horses, down from 26 cases in Athens in 2004.