olympics.jpegThe athletes themselves may be competing thousands of miles away in London, but San Francisco is getting into the Olympic spirit by hosting two real-time big-screen viewings of the games in Civic Center Plaza next week.

On Tuesday, Aug. 7, and again on Saturday, Aug. 11, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department will host Olympics viewing parties with space for 10,000 viewers, parks and recreation general manager Phil Ginsburg said today.

Ginsburg made the announcement in front of City Hall, flanked by several former Olympians, former Mayor Willie Brown and British Consul General Priya Guha.

The announcement was preceded by an American flag-raising ceremony featuring about 30 elementary school-age campers from the recreation and parks department’s Athletic Camp summer program.

“We intend to do what we do best–celebrate,” Brown said as the flag went up and the campers recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Brown spoke about San Francisco’s bid in 2002 to host the 2012 Summer Games. The city, through the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, was a top contender, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

However, the city is proud of the many Olympians with Bay Area ties who are competing in London, Brown said.

Ginsburg introduced three Olympians with Bay Area ties: pentathlete Marilyn King, rower Ted Murphy, and water polo player Sean Nolan.

The three athletes shared advice for the young campers about achieving their goals and dreams. Murphy, a silver-medalist and two-time Olympian, told the children to persevere despite obstacles.

“The truth of the matter is, I wasn’t very good at the start,” he said.

The campers then posed for a photo with the athletes, city officials and sponsors of the upcoming Civic Center screenings, and cheered, “Get out and play!”

The two live broadcasts will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The events will include rides and games for children.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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