THE BIG STORY: TRANSPORT, TECHNO PROBLEMS PLAGUE GAMES
Media coverage of the transportation and technological
problems that have confounded Games organizers and angered IOC
officials continued to gain intensity, with even broadcast
partner NBC getting into the act. Last night's "NBC Nightly
News" reported the IOC's concerns over transportation problems
and the "unreliable" athlete shuttle bus service. NBC's Tom
Brokaw noted athletes are "disgusted" with the shuttles and that
authorities were "herding" spectators into "human traffic jams"
around the venues. Also, many street vendors and restaurants
near the sites are missing out on potential customers and
dropping prices. Some vendors are so upset by the lack of
business, in fact, that a meeting was forced Monday with the
Atlanta City Council to discuss the problem. Brokaw, however,
led into a more positive story with this spin: "But even with
all these inconveniences, everyday there are so many moments
which make it all so worthwhile" (NBC, 7/22).
THE RESPONSE: ACOG officials "are throwing more buses,
guides to out-of-town drivers, and new routes at their taxed
transportation system in an effort to solve their woes on the
roads." In other news, major broadcasters (the EBU and Japan's
NHK) are threatening suit over the "dismal performance" of ACOG's
IBM-produced computer results system. IOC member Alex Gilady:
"I'm trying to calm the broadcasters down." ACOG spokesperson
Bob Brennan "insisted the bugs are being worked out in the
complicated computer system, but he could not be specific".
While Brennan refused to blame IBM, ACOG COO A.D. Frazier said
they were told by IBM that the problems were "fixable." Frazier:
"I don't know why it wasn't fixable before now" (Melissa Turner,
ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/23). The L.A. TIMES' Randy Harvey
reports that IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch has appointed
U.S. IOC member Anita DeFrantz to oversee ACOG's trouble-shooting
efforts (L.A. TIMES, 7/22). PRINT MEDIA LETS LOOSE: The N.Y.
DAILY NEWS: "The world's greatest sports extravaganza has been
plagued by snags, delays and other logistical problems" (Luke
Cyphers, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/23). USA TODAY notes organizers
"scrambled Monday to quiet the chaos" (Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY,
7/23). The L.A. TIMES' Mike Downey: "It isn't funny anymore.
Atlanta's Olympic organization, an oxymoron if I've ever heard
one, is being called 'the worst ever' by members of the
international committee" (L.A. TIMES, 7/23). The lead from the
top story in the WASHINGTON POST: "A brewing rebellion by
Olympic athletes against transport troubles and other glitches is
dramatizing a logistical nightmare that threatens to overwhelm
the global camaraderie and goodwill [of the Games' opening]"
(William Drozdiak, WASHINGTON POST, 7/23). The WASHINGTON TIMES'
Tom Knott: "Gone With the Witless" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/23).
Columnist Rich Hoffman: "This is just too big" (PHILA. DAILY
NEWS, 7/23). The N.Y. TIMES: "An overloaded transit system and
neophyte bus drivers are making transportation the great unknown"
(Peter Applebome, N.Y. TIMES, 7/23). The CHICAGO SUN-TIMES' Phil
Rosenthal: "Folk aren't asking 'How y'all doing?' down here so
much anymore. They know, and they're tired of hearing it"
(CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/23).