News briefs from the Olympic Games

Olympic news briefs:

LONDON - Australians are among the top-five big spenders visiting London during the early stages of the Olympic Games, global financial corporation Visa reports.

Between July 23 and July 29 international visitors in London spent some US$700 million on their Visa accounts, with Australian travellers paying out US$35.3 million of the total.

Visitors from the United States topped the list of spenders, paying out more than US$85 million, followed by Japan (US$50.9 million), France (US$41.5 million), and Italy (US$39.5 million).

Services - including repairs, and health and beauty - proved the most popular purchase, followed by entertainment spending, airline bookings, general retail, and accommodation.


LONDON - London Olympic organisers are preparing for a "super" weekend of Games action with 48 medal events to be decided at venues across the city and in regional Britain.

"We've just got an immense weekend of sport that takes in not only sport in the stadia, but again takes sports onto the streets of London," LOCOG director of sport Debbie Jevans said.

On Saturday 25 gold medals will be presented, followed by a further 23 on Sunday.

Of the 26 sports and 39 discipline in the Olympic schedule, medals will this weekend be awarded in badminton, track cycling, diving, fencing, artistic gymnastics, trampoline, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, tennis triathlon, weight lifting, and Greco-Roman wrestling.

Weather forecasters suggest the weekend will not be kind to spectators and athletes, with storms and a maximum of 20 degrees celsius forecast for both days.


SEOUL - Athletes from hermit state North Korea have been surprisingly successful in the first six days of Olympic competition, and according to state media, North Koreans are glued to their televisions.

With four gold medals, comprising three in weightlifting and one in judo, North Korea is even in the top 10 of the medals table.

A deal with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) means that North Koreans can watch and listen to the Games on radio and television.

But it remains unclear how much state television is actually making use of the rights and consequently how North Koreans are actually watching.

State news agency KCNA reported that the country's victories had plunged the country into "ecstasy" and that interest in sport had greatly increased.

"Another victory that makes our nation happy," wrote state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun after the first gold medal, won by An kum Au in the women's judo.

"I hope I have made our leader Kim Jong Un a little bit happy," she told reporters in London.

The North Koreans have already doubled their medal haul from Beijing in 2008.

For most North Koreans their country's success at the Games is likely to be a welcome, if fleeting, distraction from the daily drudgery of life in the hermit country, where thousands are in need of aid after dozens were killed and over 60,000 thousand made homeless in flooding last month.


BERLIN - German Olympic officials say a rower who was a member of the country's women's eight crew has left the Olympics after a broadcaster reported that her partner was a supporter of Germany's far right.

The national Olympic association's general director, Michael Vesper, said he and German rowing officials held a meeting with Nadja Drygalla in which she "stressed credibly" that she "is committed to the values of the Olympic charter".

Drygalla was done competing at the games after the women's eight team failed to make Thursday's final.

Vesper says Drygalla said she would leave the Olympic village to avoid any "burden for the Olympic team".

"I don't think it's an issue for us because she hasn't said or done anything related to the games," said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.


LONDON - Fans knew they were seeing history at the Olympic basketball arena last night, the shooting was so hot, hot, hot.

Carmelo Anthony alone had 10 3-pointers and 37 points and he rested the last quarter.

When the score after the 3rd quarter hit USA 119, Nigeria 62, the announcer said "the scoreboard can't handle any number over 160." Fans then started chanting "Break the board! Break the board!"

In the last two minutes, the latest USA Dream Team appeared to be trying NOT to break the board, using up the whole shot clock before dropping points so clean the net barely moved.

Final: USA 156, Nigeria 73.


LONDON - Bryshon Nellum's doctors told him he might never run again.

Not at an elite level. And, surely, not in the Olympics.

Yet here he is in London, less than four years after the former Southern California track star was shot three times in the legs at age 19 in a case of mistaken identity by gang members, and only a year after he underwent his third and final surgery to remove the last remnants of bullet fragments in his left hamstring.

On Saturday, Nellum will make his long-awaited Olympic debut in the preliminary heats of the men's 400 metres - the same event featuring history-making double-amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius of South Africa.

The man known as "Blade Runner" fought to compete alongside the able-bodied sprinters.


SEOUL - The South Korean Olympic delegation is sending home four badminton players disqualified for trying to lose matches at the London Games.

Chief South Korean delegate Lee Ki-heung tells The Associated Press that the two women's doubles pairs will leave London as early as Friday along with their coach. Lee spoke by phone from London.

Two other doubles teams, from China and Indonesia, were also kicked out of the games earlier this week after deliberately playing poorly to secure a more favourable draw in the next round.

The International Olympic Committee is demanding further investigation by national Olympic committees. The IOC wants coaches, trainers and officials punished if they encouraged or ordered the eight players to lose intentionally.

Lee says the four South Korean players and their coach violated the Olympic spirit of fair play and sportsmanship.