Olympics countdown off to false start as clock stops
Mar 15, 2011, 20:22 GMT
A technicican (bottom right) looks over the Olympic countdown clock in London, Britain, 15 March 2011. The Olympics countdown clock, unveiled in the square with much fanfare on 14 March, stopped at 500 days, seven hours, six minutes, 56 seconds, on 15 March 2011. Measuring 6.5 metres tall and five metres long, the digital display intended to count down the days, hours and minutes in the same square where Londoners gathered in 2005 to hear their city announced as winning bidders. A spokesperson from Omega said: \'We are obviously very disappointed that the clock has suffered this technical issue\'. EPA/ANDY RAIN
London - A digital clock in central London marking the countdown to the 2012 Olympics stopped Tuesday less than 24 hours after it started - but the problem was later solved to the relief of the organizers and the timer's Swiss clockmakers.
The clock had been unveiled at a ceremony in Trafalgar Square on Monday to mark the 500th day before the start of next year's Games.
But on the first day of ticket sales for the Games, the 6.5-metre-tall Omega London 2012 digital clock stuck on 500 days, 7 hours, 6 minutes and 56 seconds to go before the start of the Games.
'We are obviously very disappointed that the clock has suffered this technical issue,' said a spokesman for the Swiss-based Swatch Group, which immediately sent in a team of engineers.
By Tuesday evening, the clock had resumed its countdown.
'It's one of those wind-ups set to test us, but it's working again,' London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe was quoted as saying.
Four British Olympic champions - rowers Pete Reed and Andy Hodge and sailors Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson - had started the the clock at 1930 GMT on Monday at a ceremony which included a firework display.
'It will be a daily and hourly reminder that the countdown to the start of London 2012 has well and truly begun,' Coe, who was at the ceremony, said.
Omega, which is part of the Swatch Group, said engineers had repaired the problem and the timer was working again as designed.
The company's chief engineer was flown in from Switzerland 'to make a full diagnostic investigation into what created the problem.'
Organizers meanwhile said the first day of ticket sales went 'well well.'
Some 6.6 million are available from the London 2012 website over a six-week period, with prices ranging from 20 pounds to 2,012 pounds (32 to 3,200 dollars). Oversubscribed events will be decided by a ballot.
London 2012 organizers are hoping to avoid their website crashing by making tickets available until April 26 rather than on a first come, first serve basis. The Games open on July 27, 2012.
A spokeswoman for the Games' organizing committee said: 'We're pleased. It's been healthy as expected and things have been going very well today.'
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