British bookmakers are offering a wide array of bets during the London Olympics, including the possibility of a UFO sighting at the opening ceremonies. (QMI Agency photo illustration)
LONDON - Would you bet on Queen Elizabeth lighting the Olympic flame? Or a UFO appearing above the opening ceremony? Or maybe on Usain Bolt winning the men’s 100 metre race?
With the London Olympics fast approaching, Britons are happily combining two of their favourite pastimes: sports and betting — no matter how ludicrous some of the bets.
“It is deep in the British psyche to have a bit of a flutter when it comes to sports. Sports and betting almost go hand-in-hand in this country,” said Joe Crilly, a spokesman from bookmaker William Hill.
Less than two months away from kickoff, bookmakers are starting to close their books on the most popular bet so far — who will light the flame, the symbol of the Olympic Games, at the opening ceremony on July 27.
The identity of the person who runs the final stretch with the Olympic torch after a 70-day relay is always a highlight at the opening extravaganza. China’s former champion gymnast Li Ning was awarded that honour in Beijing in 2008; at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali lit the cauldron in an emotional show as he struggled with Parkinson’s disease.
Bookmakers William Hill, Ladbrokes, Stan James and Coral all agreed the favourite for that coveted task in London, with odds of 1-3, is former rower Steve Redgrave, 50, Britain’s most successful Olympian who won five gold medals from 1984 to 2000.