Tom Welch, president of Salt Lake City's bid to stage the 2002 Winter Games, said Friday "his efforts should be strengthened by the role of Atlanta as host" of the '96 Games. Welch noted that Atlanta's success in raising some $1.6B from private sources "should be a major plus" when the IOC votes next year on the 2002 site. Two years ago, Salt Lake "narrowly lost the race" to host the '98 Games to Nagano, Japan. Welch: "The last time, the negative about us for some IOC members was that Atlanta had the Games. For others, it was because the Winter Games had not been staged in Asia for so long. And others just didn't like us." Now, however, Welch expects the Atlanta Games to be a "boon." Eight cities are bidding on 2002: Quebec City; Jaca, Spain; Socchi, Russia; Ostersund, Sweden; Sion, Switzerland; Graz, Austria; Poprad-Tatry, Slovakia; and Tarviso, Italy. Salt Lake "generally is considered the front-runner, but Welch said it was too early" (Larry Siddons, AP, 11/12). QUEBEC: In its bid to host the 2002 Games, Quebec City "has hit one big bump": finding a site for men's downhill skiing. The International Ski Federation has rejected six of the sites Quebec has proposed. On the political side, Quebec 2002 has "tried to calm IOC concerns over the threat of separation, which the Parti Quebecois government plans to accomplish in a referendum this year." Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Foreign Affairs Minister Andre Ouellet have told IOC members that Quebec separation is unlikely. "Political hurdles aside," IOC Canadian representative Carol Anne Letheren expects Quebec City to make the IOC short list in January, along with Salt Lake, Sion, and Ostersund (AP, 11/12).
In Dallas, Mark McDonald writes, USOC President LeRoy Walker "has compared the USOC to 'a small Fortune 500 company that happens to be in the business of sports.' And Walker is presiding over what is likely to be a significant downsizing of the USOC." Walker, who has been examining budget recommendations at the U.S. Olympic Congress in Nashville this weekend: "Everything's on the table (to be cut)." The USOC's participation in future World University Games is said to be "in trouble," and Walker even floated the idea that the U.S. might not send full teams to other major events if the U.S. athletes would not be competitive (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/13). Anita DeFrantz, one of the U.S.'s IOC members, said the size of U.S. Olympic teams must not be affected by budget cutting. DeFrantz suggested charging for time at Olympic training centers, federal and state tax checkoffs and funding from pro sports as alternative ways to trim budgets (AP, 11/12). THE NASHVILLE RUMOR CIRCUIT: As for the USOC's Exec Dir position that Harvey Schiller vacated for the presidency of Turner Sports, "the job appears to be fund-raiser John Krimsky's for the taking or leaving." Other names being floated: SWC Commissioner Steve Hatchell, USA Gymnastics chief Sandy Knapp and soon-to-be former Governors Ann Richards and Mario Cuomo (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/13). In New York, Jere Longman profiles Krimsky: "The very same toughness that serves Krimsky well in deal-making may make him unsuitable as executive director" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/13). Walker on Krimsky: "We're going to get this done with all deliberate speed. But we're going to do it right. One thing that is a priority is getting Krimsky out of the dual-role situation and into either one or the other. And the sooner the better" (Bob Ford, PHILA. INQUIRER, 11/14).
When the IOC's oversight panel arrives this week, "its members will find a city bustling with construction and Olympic organizers focusing on the Games instead of controversy," according to Melissa Turner of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. The last time the IOC came to check up on Atlanta in May, gay rights activists and the Cobb County venue dispute "overshadowed ACOG's progress report on Olympic operations." This time, the panel is likely to focus on progress on the Olympic stadium, athletes village and equestrian center, as well as the construction schedule and venue designs. During the visit, the panel will receive a review of how the city of Atlanta is progressing in its preparations for the Games (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/13). ACOG SHUFFLE: A power transition is beginning to take place in ACOG. By design, the center of power is supposed to shift from the various departments to the 31 venues. The shift makes Dir of Venues Doug Arnot, a World Cup '94 veteran and newcomer to ACOG, "potentially one of the most powerful people at the committee." The idea is that having people "empowered to make decisions in the field makes more sense than trying to run the Games from a central command." Arnot is seen as a "challenge by a number of ACOG's top folks," including broadcast head Manolo Romero; Dick Yarbrough, ACOG CEO Billy Payne's "sage"; and sports chief Dave Maggard. "There also has been considerable tension between Arnot and construction chief Bill Moss, who has bristled at Arnot's Johnny-come-lately second-guessing of venue designs." ATLANTA CONSTITUTION's Bert Roughton notes that if Payne "can referee these powerful egos, then the transition, while difficult, could go on with minimal bloodshed. But if he can't, the turf wars could freeze ACOG into gridlock a year and a half from showtime" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/12).
"In a surprise move," Olympic organizers are seeking city approval to use 15 of 25 "mega-signs" to pay tribute to cities that have hosted the Games in the past. ACOG spokesperson Lyn May said that the committee "intends to lock down the signs and make them dramatically smaller than allowed by city law." ACOG CEO Billy Payne last week promised the signs would be no larger than 700 sq. feet, even though a recently passed city ordinance would allow as much as 3,600 square feet. The remaining 10 signs still will be available to Olympic sponsors who pay the $40M sponsorship fee (Lyle Harris, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/12).