SBD/Issue 19/Olympics

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  • U.S. NGB Heads Call For Resignations Of USOC's Probst, Streeter

    Probst's Lack Of Experience
    In Sports Cited By Gilbert
    The chief execs of 46 NGBs yesterday passed a no-confidence vote in the USOC's leadership and called for the immediate resignation of USOC Chair Larry Probst and USOC Acting CEO Stephanie Streeter. If the USOC's board does not respond to the group's call, it will turn to "influential" people in DC to address their concerns, said Skip Gilbert, National Governing Body Association head and CEO of USA Triathlon. The announcement came less than five hours after Streeter said she would step aside as CEO at the end of the first quarter of '10. Gilbert said Streeter's decision to step aside was not enough because the time to step forward and build int'l relationships is now and during the Vancouver Olympics. "That (new CEO) could go to Vancouver ... and start to put the new face of the USOC on the map," Gilbert added. "Why let her continue? Why not make the change today?" Gilbert said Probst should resign because he does not have the sports or int'l experience necessary to lead the USOC. Gilbert: "If you don't have those basic elements behind you, how are you expected to be the leader?" Gilbert stopped short of calling for an overhaul of the USOC and its bylaws, but did call for the creation of a board that is more engaged and a CEO that "understands the constituency base." Gilbert said, "That's going to help take the USOC to the next level" (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

    CHANGE WILL DO YOU GOOD? Gilbert said that the USOC "could ask Congress to intervene" because the organization "operates under congressional mandate as the U.S. national organizing committee for the Olympic movement." He added that the NGBs have been "concerned with the USOC's direction for several months but remained silent during Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/8). However, USA Team Handball Chair Dieter Esch "offered a dissent" to the call for Probst and Streeter to resign immediately. Esch: "There is too much at stake to just call for resignations" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/8). USOC spokesperson Lindsay Hogan said that the organization's board is "scheduled to meet later this week and would have a response at that time." In DC, Amy Shipley notes NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol "made the first public call for a leadership change hours after Chicago became the second straight U.S. city to finish fourth in the international race for a Summer Games." Ebersol has said that the USOC's "failure to connect with the international sports community and the perceived arrogance of its leadership doomed Chicago's bid" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/8). SI.com's Brian Cazeneuve wrote Streeter's resignation is "really just step one" for the USOC. For a country that "often wins and always contends for the top of the medal count at each Olympics, the United States has relatively little administrative clout beyond the dollars that television and sponsorship money can generate" (SI.com, 10/7).

    Dick Ebersol Believes Streeter
    Should Leave USOC Quickly
    TIME TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR: In N.Y., Thomas & Macur note yesterday's announcement regarding Streeter's future "followed several days of intense criticism and kicked off what is likely to be a period of reassessment by leaders of the Olympic committee, who have acknowledged that Chicago's last-place finish in the vote Friday was a result in part of the United States' diminished influence in the international sports world." However, some USOC critics believe that "Streeter's decision did not go far enough," adding that she should "exit quickly, before the Vancouver Games in February." Ebersol: "How effective is anybody in any field after they’ve announced their resignation?" Ebersol contends by not naming a new CEO before Vancouver, the U.S. will "lose the opportunity to introduce the new leader to the international community." Ebersol: "I believe this whole thing is just to give Stephanie one moment in the sun, and that’s not what we should be thinking about right now." He believes that the USOC should "forgo an extensive search and look to established sports executives" to fill the role (N.Y. TIMES, 10/8). Ebersol said USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny and USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus have "exactly the skill set everyone knows we need" for the position. Ebersol: "They have enormous grass-roots sports that are wildly successful so they know what the importance of the athlete is and how to deal with it on a major domestic level. They also have sports that are so big they demand real fundraising ability, particularly among big domestic corporations." He added, "The people fit for this job are such a small group." Meanwhile, Probst until yesterday had been "ambivalent about committing to what he found surprisingly large time demands in the chairman's job." Probst: "I'm not a person that backs away from a challenge. And I'm not a person that runs from a fight. I think I can do this organization a lot of good" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/8).

    WHERE DID WE GO WRONG? In Chicago, Philip Hersh writes the issue surrounding last Friday's IOC vote "no longer is whether Chicago could have beaten Rio if both had been in the final round," but rather how Chicago "got far fewer votes than anticipated." Some Chicago 2016 officials before the vote believed that the bid had "up to 33 votes in the first round," but Chicago instead pulled in only 18. Chicago 2016 Chair Pat Ryan: "I don't think it was miscounting. I think people changed their mind once they got in the closed session." Former TOROC COO Luciano Barra, who lobbied on behalf of Chicago 2016, said that members who shifted their votes to Tokyo "may have included Arab members from countries belonging to the Asian Olympic group who wanted to show regional solidarity." Barra also suggested that some IOC members "might have rejected Chicago out of petulance over security inconveniences caused by the presence" of President Obama and his wife, Michelle. Taiwan IOC member C.K. Wu said, "The IOC should in the future really study the (voting process)" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/8). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman notes Chicago's fourth-place finish "may have marked the nadir of the USOC's power." IOC members had "long ago grown resentful of USOC leadership, believing that it didn't respect the IOC's leadership and did little to engage them in talks over revenue issues." Olympic consultant Chris Welton, who formerly worked with the IOC, said, "There was 25 years of animosity that was built up in that vote" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/8).

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  • IOC Members Impressed As VANOC Details Preparations For '10 Games

    Furlong Impresses IOC With
    Vancouver's Preparations
    VANOC CEO John Furlong yesterday "breezed through his final session with the IOC" in Copenhagen, and there was "little doubt they were impressed by what they'd seen" in Vancouver's preparations for the '10 Olympics, according to Ed Willes of the Vancouver PROVINCE. Furlong "has promised a memorable Olympics with a balanced budget and a transcendental setting and, as he worked his way through Vancouver's preparations yesterday, that's what he appeared to be offering." Furlong "gave the IOC an idea of what they can expect in four months when The Big Show comes to town and he painted an impressive picture." The venues are "complete and uniformly splendid," and the Canada Line and highway to Whistler "are ready." There also will be "concerts and ceremonies and enough other diversions to keep everyone wildly entertained." IOC Marketing Commission Chair Gerhard Heiberg told Furlong, "You have kept your word. I must say everything you've promised has been kept. You will deliver what you've promised." Heiberg afterward said, "I was the one saying this is the best place. We have full confidence in John and his team and they're going to be wonderful games." IOC Coordination Commission Chair Jean-Claude Killy: "Everyone knows that they will be great. What can go wrong? Nothing. That's my opinion and the opinion of most of my colleagues" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/8). Furlong during his presentation highlighted the "competition venues that he said were completed early and with minimal environmental disruption," and he "pledged the Games would break even." Furlong: "We will not spend what we don't have, ever." Meanwhile, Furlong added that another sponsor "would be announced in a week or more," but he said that it is "not a packaged goods supplier" (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 10/8).

    TICKET FEVER: Furlong said that the "appetite for tickets has been voracious" for the '10 Games. During the "last public offering of 150,000 tickets, VANOC's website experienced 1,500 hits every second for four hours -- making it the busiest website in the world during that period." Furlong said that a "further 150,000 tickets will be made available soon, mostly for preliminary-round hockey and curling contests." The GLOBE & MAIL's Gary Mason notes after VANOC's presentation yesterday, IOC members were "treated to a fashion show of Olympic gear designed by Mizuno that IOC members will be wearing in Vancouver" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/8). Meanwhile, VANOC Exec VP & Deputy CEO Dave Cobb said that organizers "will decide in the next few weeks whether to allow resellers to make money if they use the official Vancouver 2010 resale site." Cobb: "We're concerned that if we don't allow people to post tickets at a price greater than face value, that they'll go somewhere else to do it and if they go somewhere else to do it, buyers will not know whether they're valid tickets or not." He said that there is a "balance between ensuring the official resale program is attractive and ensuring there are enough affordable tickets available to anyone who wants to come to the Games." Cobb: "We think we've done that because they've been sold at our pricing" (CP, 10/7).

    IOC Member Expresses Concern Over
    Level Of Security At '10 Vancouver Games
    SECURITY OVERKILL? In Vancouver, Jeff Lee reports Israel IOC member Alex Gilady "has raised concerns about the 'unnecessary' level of security being planned" for the Vancouver Games. Gilady said that he is "worried that Vancouver's [C$900M] security plan -- with its extensive use of metal detectors -- is extreme." Gilady: "We have learned here in Copenhagen a magnificent lesson in security without harassment. You could see really excellent security, and yet no magnetometers and a very easy pass." Gilady referred to the "overwhelming levels of security" for the Beijing Games, saying, "I don't want Beijing again" (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/8).

    GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN: In Vancouver, Ivens & Inwood report Univ. of British Columbia ophthalmology professor Chris Shaw "launched a lawsuit in the B.C. Supreme Court yesterday that asks a judge to strike down parts of the city of Vancouver's controversial Olympics bylaw." The bylaw "forbids anyone from displaying a sign not deemed to be 'celebratory' of the Winter Olympic Games on a number of major Vancouver streets or six city sites" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/8).

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  • Golf's Inclusion In Olympics Not Secure After Rio Selection

    Michelle Wie Will Campaign
    For Golf At IOC Session
    The IOC tomorrow will vote to determine whether golf and rugby will be added to the Olympic platform starting with the '16 Rio de Janeiro Games, and golf's inclusion "does not look to be quite such a sure thing," according to John Hopkins of the LONDON TIMES. The IOC exec board in August voted in favor of the two sports joining the Olympics, and tomorrow's vote was "thought to be almost a formality." But there is a feeling that Rio "may not be the best venue to showcase a sport such as golf because the game is not widely played in Brazil." Both golf and rugby will make 20-minute presentations to IOC members prior to tomorrow's vote in Copenhagen, and golf's bid will be led by PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int’l Affairs Ty Votaw, R&A CEO Peter Dawson and golfers Padraig Harrington, Michelle Wie, Suzann Pettersen and Matteo Manassero. Tiger Woods is not attending the presentation due to the Presidents Cup, but he will "address the IOC in a videotaped message." Votaw, who is leading the Int'l Golf Federation's Olympic committee, said, "We have demonstrated to the IOC executive board throughout the evaluation process that golf’s bid to become an Olympic sport has received unprecedented support from both amateur and professional golf organisations around the world and leading international players. Now we must reaffirm this support before the full IOC membership" (LONDON TIMES, 10/8).

    MAKING THEIR PITCH: The AP's Mattias Karen noted both golf and rugby "need majority approval in separate votes by the full IOC assembly of 106 members." Golf officials consider the Olympics a "way to spread the game to developing countries and increase its popularity in South America and Africa." Rugby officials also are "looking to increase the fan base, and both sports will benefit from better sponsorship deals and government funding in countries that only give public support to Olympic sports" (AP, 10/6). In Manchester, Owen Gibson noted some IOC members are concerned about "whether the Olympics would be the pinnacle of achievement for golfers ahead of the four majors." But Dawson said, "We have been able to allay that fear by emphasising the broad support among the world's top players. There is only one Olympic tournament for every 16 majors." Meanwhile, the Int'l Rugby Board "looks sure to win approval for rugby sevens after promising to ditch the format's World Cup if it wins inclusion" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 10/7).

    READY FOR THE GOLD JACKET? PGATOUR.com's Stan Awtrey wrote there is "no reason to believe" golf will not be approved. While some IOC members wonder "whether making golf an official sport would elevate the status of a gold medal" for golfers, they would be "short-sided to base their decision on such criteria." IOC members need to "look deeper and think about how golf's inclusion in the Olympic Games would help the sport on an international level." Awtrey noted it "probably won't hurt the push" that Argentina's Angel Cabrera and South Korea's Y.E. Yang won two of golf's four majors in '09 (PGATOUR.com, 10/7). However, Cabrera indicated that there is not a "suitable course in Rio -- or Brazil -- to handle a major golf event." Cabrera: "There are not any in Rio right now." He added that there "may be some logistical challenges for Brazil to host golf as an Olympic sport." Cabrera: "They would probably have to build (a course)" (GOLFWEEK.com, 10/6).

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