Canada Basketball named Suns G Steve Nash GM of its men's national team, as the organization hopes to capitalize on Nash's "corporate" image as it embarks on a "major fund-raising campaign," according to Robert MacLeod of the GLOBE & MAIL. Despite a "growing number of players at both the NCAA and NBA level over the years, Canada’s men’s national team has continued to struggle at the international level." Nash's job will be to "help harness the wealth of emerging Canadian talent and select the team that will try to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro." He will be "working at the role part time as he is planning to continue his NBA career." Canada Basketball President & CEO Wayne Parrish said that Nash's involvement "has already opened some doors as the organization has identified as many as 30 individuals who have agreed to raise around $2-million in funding" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/9). In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat notes Nash played 10 years for the national team, "ending with a tournament MVP performance at Olympic qualifying" in '04. Parrish said that he had "been in talks with Nash since September." Canada Basketball has been "profitable the past four years but had been working off" a C$1.2M deficit (TORONTO SUN, 5/9).
A SLAM DUNK: Also in Toronto, Steve Buffery writes under the header, "Nash Hiring A Slam Dunk For Canada Basketball." Short of "winning a medal at an Olympic Games, the announcement that Steve Nash -- the greatest basketball player this country has ever produced -- has been named the new GM of the senior men’s national team is the absolute best of news for the program." Nash's appointment is "much bigger" than Hockey HOFers Wayne Gretzky and Steve Yzerman leading Canada's Olympic hockey team, as the hockey team is "always going to be gold-medal worthy." Nash's presence makes it "that much easier to raise money as the team looks towards the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain" and the '16 Rio Olympics. Though Parrish said Monday that Nash's "primary duties will be as GM, i.e. personnel -- he acknowledged that, from a marketing point of view, having the Phoenix Suns star on board is a major bonus" (TORONTO SUN, 5/9). The TORONTO STAR's Doug Smith writes Nash "still has basketball to play and play at the highest level but the chance to have an impact on a country ... was simply too good to turn down." Smith writes the appointment "may turn out to be a watershed moment in the basketball history of this country" (TORONTO STAR, 5/9).
Nearly one million tickets for the London Olympics “will go on sale this Friday, with 20,000 ‘lucky losers’ who were unsuccessful in both previous ballots to be given first priority,” according to Tom Peck of the London INDEPENDENT. The batch of tickets “will include around 5,000 for the most sought-after event" -- the men's 100m track final. Applicants who had no luck in the first ballot last June “will be first in line during an exclusive 31-hour sales window, which opens at 11am” local time. Fans can buy “a maximum of four tickets to a single event before the process is opened up on Sunday to the remaining 1.2 million people who were unsuccessful in the initial ballot.” LOCOG officials “have also confirmed that they will sell at least 70,000 ground passes to the Olympic Park so that those without tickets can come into the park, soak up the atmosphere and watch the action on giant screens.” These tickets will cost US$16 for adults or US$8 for concessions. Peck notes there “are still 1.4 million tickets” left for the soccer matches (London INDEPENDENT, 5/9). In London, Ashling O’Connor notes after the exclusive access period closes, other fans who missed the first ballot will have “five days to buy tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.” O’Conner notes there are “tickets available to all events, including the opening and closing ceremonies and sold-out sports such as athletics, swimming, diving and equestrianism.” The extra tickets “were sourced from a contingency pot released once organisers had established finer details of venue planning, such as camera positions.” LOCOG confirmed that “infants under 12 months would be allowed to accompany their parent if secured in a papoose or sling” (LONDON TIMES, 5/9).
FOR THEIR OWN GOOD: Also in London, Jacquelin Magnay reports British Cycling President Brian Cookson “expressed his disappointment at the new announcement of charges, and said one of the key attractions of road cycling was its free access for spectators.” He claimed that LOCOG “was trying to recover some costs of providing facilities.” Cookson said, “There is a cost in managing the venue and LOCOG is recovering that cost and keeping it to a minimum, but we would prefer it was free.” Magnay notes Olympic officials have “staggered the release of the tickets on Friday to try to circumvent the anger that accompanied the earlier ticket ballots where two in three applicants failed to secure any.” But if all of the eligible applicants apply for tickets, “at least three-quarters of them, or close to a million applicants, will be left disappointed” (London INDEPENDENT, 5/9).
The British Olympic Association (BOA) is "hoping to secure a late injection" of up to US$3.2M in Lottery funding “to help ensure the cost of sending a team to the London Olympics does not wipe out its reserves,” according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. Talks began in the past eight weeks between the BOA and Lottery provider Camelot “over a short-term sponsorship deal that could set a precedent for future direct Lottery funding of the organisation.” Team Great Britain's budget for ’12 is US$20.9M, the “majority of which comes from a joint marketing agreement" with LOCOG. The BOA “insists it is in a position to cover that, and can call on” reserves if required. If those reserves were to be used, however, “it would leave the organisation exposed.” A short-term deal with Camelot would “significantly reduce its exposure, though any agreement would have to be approved” by LOCOG. The BOA also hopes to “boost its income through sales of two ‘iconic’ items of licensed merchandise." The first is “a supporters’ scarf,” which went on sale in March, and the second, “a series of collectable Olympic medallions,” goes on sale today (London TELEGRAPH, 5/9).