Second largest ever
Before he flew to London the vice president of the Egyptian Olympic Committee was interviewed by Ghada Abdel-Kader on the country's bigger than average athletic delegation
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Crowds leave the Olympic Stadium following the dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony
The Egyptian delegation participating in London 2012 is the second biggest Egypt has sent to any Olympics since the country started participating in the Games 100 years ago.
Vice President of the Egyptian Olympic Committee (EOC) Ahmed El-Fouli, who is also the head of the delegation, told Al-Ahram Weekly, "the biggest was in Los Angeles in 1984 when Egypt was represented by 114 athletes (108 men and six women) in 15 sports.
"This year, the Egyptian delegation is 160-strong, including 110 athletes (77 men and 33 women) plus 50 administrators, coaches and physicians."
They will take part in 21 sports -- athletics, archery, boxing, equestrian, shooting, modern pentathlon, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling, artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, football, taekwondo, judo, canoe sprint, sailing, rowing, swimming, synchronised swimming, fencing and badminton.
The Olympic Games in London is scheduled from 27 July to 12 August. Around 10,500 athletes representing 204 nations and territories are competing in 302 events covering 26 sports.
"All athletes who qualified are going to the Olympics," El-Fouli said. "That's why the delegation is so big. There is an old saying that an athlete goes to the Olympics if he guarantees winning an Olympic medal. This is wrong from the sports aspect because it is very difficult to predict what will happen. In the Olympic charter and principles there are no punishments or fact-finding committees if any athlete fails to win."
The first group from the Egyptian delegation arrived in London Saturday 14 July. It consisted of El-Fouli and three directors from the administrative groups of the National Egyptian Olympic Committee (NEOC): director of finance and administration affairs Adel Abdel-Dayam, director of technical affairs Lamis Hegazi and director of public relations and accommodation Hassan El-Hosseini.
"The committee has been preparing for the Olympics for almost two years. We had several meetings in London, Zimbabwe and Johannesburg before travelling to London. After arriving in London we had a meeting with the Organising Committee (LOCOG) to finish the arrangements and revise the final list of athletes who will all be in London three days before the opening ceremony and will return to Cairo two days after the closing ceremony.
"Some of our federations went for training camps abroad and others went to London. The Olympic village is open and there is no problem. Also, we coordinated with the British Embassy in Cairo. British Ambassador James Watt was very helpful," added El-Fouli.
Last month, the director general of Britain's domestic spy agency MI5, Jonathan Evans, referred in an address about his fears that Al-Qaeda militants were using Arab Spring countries as bases to train radical British youths for attacks on Britain and some parts of the Arab world during the Olympics. The Olympic Games in London are an attractive target for some terrorist networks to pull off attacks.
About such concerns, El-Fouli said "Egypt is the oldest country in the world with a history of over 7,000 years. We participated in the Olympics 100 years ago. Egypt has nothing to do with organising attacks or bombings. Egypt has good relations with Britain. British Ambassador Watt held several celebrations and receptions for the Egyptian delegation. Yes, they are afraid of some countries. There is a big problem with Syria."