Olympic Shorts

Big Ben to lead bell-ringing opening for Olympic Games

The distinctive chimes of Big Ben will join thousands of church bells, door bells and bicycle bells to ring in the Olympic Games, the keeper of the famous London clocktower said on Tuesday. In a change of rhythm and routine, Big Ben will strike more than 42 times between 8:12 A.M. and 8:15 A.M. local time on Friday. It will be the first time Big Ben has been rung outside its regular schedule since February, 1952, when it tolled every minute for 56 strokes for the funeral of King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II. The event, titled All The Bells, will be the first big celebration to kick off the Games. Householders, cyclists and anyone else able to ring a bell have been asked to join in. The full three-minute chime will be broadcast on BBC radio and television, reaching a potential live audience of an estimated 10 million in Britain alone. The project is the brainchild of Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed, who suggested that all the bells in the country be rung as loudly as possible for three minutes on opening day. (DPA )

Early start for women's soccer at Olympics

The U.S. women's soccer team open their Olympic campaign on Wednesday with a game against France in Scotland, two days before the opening ceremony. Team GB will face New Zealand in Cardiff. Soccer is one of two sports that starts early because the extra days are needed to play a sufficient slate of games that doesn't wear the players out. Women's soccer isn't much of a draw in Scotland. Some 37,000 fans are expected for Wednesday's game, but organizers say about 80 percent of the tickets were given away to schools and local clubs. The U.S. team has been in Britain for two weeks, and the practices have been getting more intense as the big moment nears. (AP )

Syrian Olympians train in safety and calm

Syrian International Olympic Committee member Samih Moudallal says his country's athletes have been able to prepare for the London Olympics despite the uprising at home. The IOC has registered 10 Syrian athletes - six men and four women - to compete in seven different sports. Moudallal says "we have many places, calm and safe, for them" to train in Syria. Protests against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March 2011 and became a civil war which activists say has killed at least 19,000 people. Moudallal says athletes have been able to "train and practice [their] daily business easily without any difficulties." Moudallal picked Majed Aldin Ghazal in the men's high jump as Syria's best medal prospect. (AP )