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SBD Global/July 24, 2012/Olympics

Rogge Says He Is 'Working Class' Despite VIP Treatment

IOC President Jacques Rogge pauses during a tour of the Athletes Village Monday.
IOC President Jacques Rogge has "defended the VIP treatment afforded to him and his colleagues" at the London Games by claiming they are "working class people," according to Oliver Pickup of the London TELEGRAPH. Rogge is staying in a suite at the "plush, five-star Hilton Hotel in one of the most affluent areas of the city," and has a "chauffeur-driven BMW," which drives around the capital in his "own lane." Rogge spoke on BBC Radio 4's Today program Monday and said that he and his colleagues "lived by simple means." Rogge, "The IOC members work very hard during the Olympic Games. This hotel where we are staying is a kind of conference room. We have our meetings here, so that is very important. And IOC members fulfill an important duty within their own nation, their own national Olympic committees, awarding medals, sitting in various commissions ... so we are working class people." Speaking to the security issues of the last week, Rogge said: "The problem has been identified, the problem has been addressed in a good way, the company will compensate for the extra costs for the government, and really it's time to move to another issue." Rogge also defended "strict rules to prevent ambush marketing" by firms not signed up as sponsors to the Games. He said: "We have to protect of course the sponsors, it goes without saying. You cannot ask a company to pay hundreds of millions of dollars and not be protected against ambush marketing. But the fight against ambush marketing will be led with a lot of common sense. Everything that is in good faith will not be affected and will not be forbidden." He continued, "If you come with a T-shirt and it is not exactly the T-shirt of the sponsor in the venue, they will not forbid you from entering the stadium. If it is a major attempt to do ambush marketing on a major scale then, yes, we will intervene" (TELEGRAPH, 7/23).

REMEMBERING MUNICH: Meanwhile, the AFP reported that Rogge held a minute's silence to mark the 40th anniversary of the '72 Munich Olympic attacks Monday while he "toured the athlete's village." The attack left 11 Israeli athletes dead (AFP, 7/23). The AP's Stephen Wilson noted that the IOC has "come under pressure from Jewish groups and politicians in the U.S., Israel and Germany to honor the Munich victims during the Opening Ceremony." Rogge: "I would like to start today's ceremony by honoring the memory of the 11 Israeli Olympians who shared the ideals that have brought us together in this beautiful Olympic Village. The 11 victims of the Munich tragedy believed in that vision. They came to Munich in the spirit of peace and solidarity. We owe it to them to keep the spirit alive and to remember them. As the events of 40 years ago remind us, sport is not immune from and cannot cure all the ills of the world" (AP, 7/23).

LONDON READY: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Simon Nixon opined that the Olympics "will be an opportunity for the U.K. to show the smart money is right." For all the country's recent problems, "it will have succeeded in seven years in organizing the world's largest sporting tournament on time and on budget in the middle of a recession in the middle of one of the world's biggest cities, largely financed with private-sector money." And the world will see that London "remains the astonishingly diverse, open, dynamic, fundamentally law-abiding place" that was awarded the Games in '05. London will no doubt "delight in demonstrating to its critics over the next three weeks" (WSJ, 7/22). A NEW ZEALAND HERALD editorial opined that "London deserves congratulations for a build-up that, teething troubles with security and transport aside, bodes well for the success of the Games of the 30th Olympiad." It continued, "Rather than the usual last-minute scramble, London has, in many ways, been ready for the event for the best part of a year" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 7/23).

FEAR FACTOR: In Dubai, Sunil Gavaskar wrote that "however genuine the efforts of the organisers are, the bigger the event, the more chances there are for some glitch or other to happen." In the modern world, "there can be no such thing as the perfect Games." It will be interesting to see "how the weather is going to affect the Games" (GULF NEWS, 7/22). In Sydney, Frank Furedi opined that walking around London "feels like being in the middle of a Performance of Fear." However, there is a difference between "weighing up the risks and acting on the basis of probabilities and the current alarmist practice of adopting the methodology of worst-case thinking." The constant "dramatisation of an Olympic Games under threat has diminished the public's identification with this event." The Olympic Games "have been recast as an object of fear rather than of celebration." And that is "a tragedy in the original sense of the term."  (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/21).
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