South American shaman blesses London Olympic site

LONDON -- The future site of the 2012 Olympics -- a project plagued by unanticipated costs, a disputed tax bill and worries over removing World War II bombs -- is getting some help from a South American shaman.

Ecuadorean tribal shaman Walter Calazacon used sticks and a red cloth in a ritual he said was meant to cleanse bad energy. He also traveled with an ancestral skull but did not use it in the 20-minute ceremony.

"The energy level was really bad," Calazacon said Wednesday, a day after performing the ritual at the site as a salvage worker cleared the land of debris. "After the ceremony, I felt all the bad energy went away."

Since London won the Olympic bid last year -- a day before suicide bombers killed 52 people on the city's transit system -- some businesses and homeowners have fought the plans, a top project engineer has quit and costs have been projected to rise over
security concerns.

What's more, an unplanned tax bill for $1.9 billion was discovered and the London Development Agency has warned the site most likely would have to be cleared of World War II bombs, oil and drums of mildly radioactive material reportedly dumped in 1959.

The Olympic Delivery Authority, the commission responsible for building venues for the games, said any help was welcome but the project was on track.

"We appreciate the sentiment involved," Olympic spokesman Tim Curry said. "But despite the static that's been around, we are in fact making real progress, as has been recognized by the International Olympic Committee."

Calazacon said he heard reports of the site's troubles at his home in Santo Domingo de los Colorados, about 80 miles from Quito. He is a Tsachila Indian and an avid sports fan.

The Olympic ceremony was the second Calazacon has performed outside Ecuador, according to Alexis Roper, a spokeswoman for Ecuador's Tourism Ministry. He also traveled to New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to bless the land.