SBJ/April 28 - May 4, 2003/Marketingsponsorship

American IOC member: Part of USOC reform defies international charter

Robert Ctvrtlik has joined fellow American Olympian Anita DeFrantz in commending the U.S. Olympic Committee's drastic reform proposals while questioning elements of the plan that would place the USOC in violation of the Olympic Charter.

Along with sporting goods magnate James Easton, Ctvrtlik and DeFrantz make up the U.S. membership within the Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee, the keeper and enforcer of a charter that self-appoints the IOC as "supreme authority" of the global Olympic movement.

The USOC announced earlier this month — in response to pressure from high-profile congressmen such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — a plan to shrink its unmanageable board of directors from 123 members to nine. Only one of the surviving nine, under proposed cuts by a 10-member USOC reform panel, would be an IOC member.

But Ctvrtlik, a Huntington Beach, Calif., businessman and ex-volleyball competitor, echoed DeFrantz's criticism that the composition of the new board is flawed because it ignores key tenets of the Olympic Charter, including a provision that IOC members "have the right to vote in the general assemblies" of their national Olympic committee.

"That is a fact," said Ctvrtlik, an IOC member since 1999. "I think this will be a difficult issue.

"It would have been much more palatable if they'd gone to the IOC first on this. It really saddens me a little bit. I thought we were a little further along in sophistication when it comes to dealing with the IOC."

The co-chairs of the reform task force, USOC volunteer vice presidents Frank Marshall and Bill Stapleton, are reviewing the matter. "It is the intention of the task force to adhere to the spirit of the Olympic Charter and principles of good governance," Marshall said in a statement released through the USOC media relations office.

Did the USOC panel, in its haste to overcome months of ethics controversy, simply ignore the charter? That is unclear, but Ctvrtlik said the oversight might have been avoided had the USOC simply included one of its IOC members on the reform task force in the first place. None of the three is on the panel.

More controversial than IOC member exclusion is the proposal's apparent defiance of the charter's requirement that U.S. national governing bodies with affiliation to an IOC-recognized international sports body "must constitute the voting majority" of the Olympic committee. The USOC panel, in fact, recommends a voting board composed of four independent directors, two athlete advisory council members (past Olympians), one U.S. IOC member and just two representatives from national governing body members.

Ctvrtlik stopped short of saying the plan should be shelved. "It is a very courageous proposal," he said. "I think there will be a workable solution."

The IOC said it wasn't ready to evaluate the reform plan or interpret nuances of the charter as it relates to the United States.

"Until we have the outcomes of the various reviews, it is inappropriate for us to comment further," said spokesperson Emmanuelle Moreau in an e-mail from IOC headquarters in Lausanne.

  ROGGE RESTING: The IOC was equally restrained last week in commenting on a revelation that its president, Belgium's Jacques Rogge, recently underwent heart surgery and expects to be sidelined by recuperation until May 5.

Rogge, a retired orthopedic surgeon, apparently traveled to his native country during the week of April 14 to undergo the surgery, which was not acknowledged by the IOC until the Atlanta-based electronic newsletter Around The Rings sought comment on press reports coming out of Belgium. An IOC spokesperson told the newsletter's editor, Ed Hula, that Rogge remained hospitalized while recovering from elective endoscopic surgery to repair a valve.

Hula said he is not aware of any prior health concerns linked to Rogge other than fatigue associated with Rogge's extensive global travel schedule.

TIME TO SWITCH GEARS: The IOC's Athens 2004 watchdog group, whose members are charged with

The IOC’s Denis Oswald wants Athens to keep sense of urgency in ’04 preparations.
monitoring preparations for next year's Games, departed Athens on April 10 in an upbeat mood. The group's leader, IOC member Denis Oswald, said preparations would be on track as long as Greek organizers and their government partners cling to a renewed sense of urgency. Oswald said the time had come for Athens to switch gears from planning to execution.

One glaring delay persists. The IOC chided Athens organizers in January for not awarding a technology contract to a firm specializing in security infrastructure. By February, the government announced it had selected San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp., contingent on the firm coming up with a lower cost structure. Earlier this month, the IOC was told to expect the signing of a $272.4 million contract within days.

But as of April 22, the contract was not signed, said a spokesperson for Science Applications International. Installation of the company's equipment is only one step. The real time crunch will be centered on adequately training the security system's users. Greece is among the few developed nations without an existing security network.

  RING TOSSES: Fears linked to the proliferating SARS virus across China are hitting close to home for former NCAA and USOC executive director Dick Schultz. After Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games, Schultz's U.S. marketing agency established International Environmental Partnerships as a joint venture with the city of Beijing. The plan is to help U.S. corporations develop relationships in China while making a financial commitment to the nation's efforts to stage the most environmentally sound Games in history. Schultz is working to establish a $100 million "health and environment fund." Since the outbreak of SARS, travel and tourism in Beijing has nearly stopped, said Schultz, who communicates daily with a Beijing office staffed by seven nationals working part-time. He returned from China in late April and is undecided if he will go back to Beijing May 20 as scheduled. "A lot of meetings have been canceled or delayed," he said. ... CoSport, an affiliate of Jet Set Sports, launched sales of Athens 2004 ticket and hotel travel packages to the U.S. general market last week. CoSport also announced it has agreements as official Games ticket agent with Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Peru, Puerto Rico, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. Sales in those countries begin in May. Jet Set, a USOC sponsor, is a corporate hospitality provider at the Games.

Steve Woodward can be reached at swoodward@sportsbusinessjournal.com

 

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