Barcelona is once hoping to recreate the buzz of the 1992 Olympic Games with the European Athletics Championships, which open today, despite only 60 percent of tickets sold (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The city pulled out all the stops with a spectacular opening ceremony last night at the Font Màgica Fountain at the foot of the Montjuïc hill. Jordi Hereu, said yesterday, "Europeans will return to the sporting capital of Barcelona and recall the spirit of the '92 Games." He went on to add, "I am sure that the public will back this new sporting event." Until yesterday however, only 60 percent of the tickets had been sold. The stadium seating capacity has been reduced to 32,000 seats in order to concentrate the fans in a central position, with most of the tickets being sold to foreign fans. The organisation estimates around 40 percent of tickets sold are to people from outside Catalunya. Mayte Martínez, one of the stars of the Spanish team said in a bid to encourage local support, "Racing at home is very motivating, I hope the public gets behind the team and see how wonderful the sport can be." The city has invested €31 million to form sporting facilities, for instance the tracks at Mar Bella, Joan Serrahima, Pau Negre and Can Dragó which are being used for training purposes. It has estimated an immediate return of €42 million, according to a report from the Consorci Turisme de Barcelona, excluding the media profits, which will total around 1,000 hours of broadcast TV and reach more than 50 countries.
The first recipient of a full face transplant revealed his identity yesterday (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Óscar, a 31 year old man who is still struggling to speak and eat solid food, appeared alongside his surgical team of 32 specialists from the Hospital Vall d'Hebron, headed by the plastic surgeon Pere Joan Barrett at a press conference yesterday. On Óscar's arrival at the hospital, three years ago only his eyes and tongue remained active and he could not eat solid food or articulate words. Óscar survived an accident in 2005 which completely destroyed his face, including his teeth, jaw, cheekbones and chin. Facial muscles, cheeks, jaws, teeth, palate, nose, lips, nerves and veins all had to be replaced with the donated face. Doctors predict that within 15 to 18 months Óscar will recover his speech fully, be able to chew food and regain nerve sensitivity in his eyelids and cheeks. They also predict he will be able to close his eyes, which he is unable to do right now. Barrett, said "He has many months of speech therapy, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, but if your progress keeps up, Óscar can live a normal life. Remarkably, just two weeks after receiving the transplant he had to shave because his jaw was growing a new beard. "His greatest wish is to walk down the street without people stopping to look, and to be able to sit at the table at the family meal," said Óscar's sister.
The MACBA gallery and La Caixa are to join their art collections in an agreement which will create a bigger collection than the Reina Sofia gallery in Madrid (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). The deal is to include more than 2,400 works of art at an estimated value of €160 million and concerns work done in the last 30 years. In an agreement, reached yesterday, although submitted in September, it was agreed by Isidre Fainé, the president of La Caixa and the Fundación and Leopoldo Rodés, the president of the Fundación Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona (MACBA) that the two galleries were to merge their contemporary art collections. The creation of an advisory committee, a result of the merger, and the establishment of a coordinated policy for the purchase of books are key to the agreement between the private foundations. The complimentary collections of both institutes was thought to be a driving force behind the deal. La Caixa's collection of 869 works is strong with artists from the Fifties and Eighties, such as Marlene Dumas, Saura, Tàpies and Oteiza, whilst the MACBA's collection is more conceptual and focuses on work from the Sixties and Seventies, plus more recent work from the end of the Nineties up to the present day. Bartomeu Marí, director of the MACBA said yesterday, "We complement each other like a glove."
Also in the news: Barcelona has leaped seven places in the ranking of the most expensive cities to live (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Gràcia to employ private security firms for the Fiesta Mayor (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia).