LONDON, England — Global sprinting star Usain Bolt is now being protected by four teammates on the Jamaican track and field squad at the Olympic Games here as he is being mobbed by athletes from other countries.
Such is Bolt's popularity that ever since arriving in the Athletes' Village on Thursday, the double world record holder in the 100m and 200m events has had difficulty moving about in public.
However, according to team manager Ludlow 'Luddy' Watts, who described Bolt as "the star of the entire Games", there are no immediate plans to move Bolt to a more private area.
"No, he is safe here and he does not mind, so we have no plans to move him," Watts told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
The four teammates — discus thrower Jason Morgan, shot putter Dorian Scott, 400m hurdler Leford Green and decathlete Maurice Smith — have had to be performing bodyguard duties for Bolt, and according to Morgan, the de facto security chief, "The (team) management says they are happy to have us here."
Bolt was seen on television monitors taking photographs with fellow Olympians and signing autographs on the infield during the parade of teams at the Opening Ceremony.
The Sunday Observer later learnt that he had to be escorted by his teammates through a throng of athletes to get back to the Athletes' Village at the end of the ceremony on Friday night.
Watts said athletes from the team directly in front and behind the Jamaican delegation in the parade — Italy and Japan, respectively — started asking for photo ops and autographs almost as soon as they got off the track. He added that security personnel and volunteers were also a part of the frenzy.
Bolt was not the only big-name athlete in the ceremony as the American basketball team with superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as well as several high-profile tennis players and swimmers were also there.
Watts told the Sunday Observer that when the Jamaican team was about to leave the village for the main stadium, which is in walking distance, a number of athletes descended on Bolt, "as if they were waiting for him to come out".
Bolt, who trained in seclusion in Birmingham before coming to London on Thursday with his track and field team members, appeared at a Jamaica Olympic Association/Puma press conference later that day and said he has not had the chance to see much of the Athletes' Village — "just the dining room" — but chances are he won't get to see much, given the demand on his time by other athletes.