'FriendShip' promise may fail to deliver

An Olympic promise to sail a yacht around the globe to launch the London games has drifted into troubled waters. The bid that secured the 2012 Olympics for the capital included the extravagant ‘FriendShip’ scheme, which would have seen an ocean-going clipper launched at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Games, beginning a four-year global voyage. The trip was described to the International Olympic Committee as ‘a journey of discovery, carrying a cargo emblematic of the UK’s cultural riches.’ Arriving in Britain, the boat was to make a ‘triumphant’ entrance up the Thames, heralding the start of the Games of the 30th Olympiad.

However, the idea now looks to be axed after mayor Ken Livingstone revealed that Lord Coe is reconsidering it. An alternative option under discussion is to replace the ship with a ‘virtual vessel’ which will ‘sail’ the internet, forming the basis of an educational programme for schools.

Livingstone said that the original sentiment was still alive, but that ‘the review includes considering if a physical ship is the best way to meet objectives.’ Others are unconvinced by a move away from the original proposal. Jenny Jones, a member of the London Assembly, said: ‘Dropping the FriendShip project may be sensible, but will other commitments go the same way?’