Larry Probst's IOC Membership Nomination A Sign Of Improved USOC-IOC Relations
USOC Chair Larry Probst was “nominated for membership of the IOC on Tuesday, a big boost for U.S. efforts to regain influence on the international Olympic stage,” according to Stephen Wilson of the AP. Probst was among “nine candidates put forward for election” to the IOC in the “latest sign of improved ties between the two bodies.” The nominees for IOC membership “will be up for election -- usually a formality -- at the full general assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sept. 10.” Probst is “in line to become the fourth U.S. member on the IOC, joining Anita DeFrantz, Jim Easton and Angela Ruggiero.” IOC Communications Dir Mark Adams said, "It would be fair to say the U.S. is a very strong important partner of the IOC. Larry’s nomination is a sign of that and a good sign of the continuing very strong cooperation we have with the USOC." Wilson reported Probst would be the “first USOC president to hold IOC membership since Sandra Baldwin, who resigned from both posts in 2002 after admitting to having lied about her academic credentials.” The U.S. “still remains without a presence on the IOC’s policy-making executive board.” The last U.S. board member was Easton, who “lost his seat" in February '06. DeFrantz, a former IOC VP, is “running for a spot on the executive board in September’s elections.” Probst is “already a member of the IOC’s international relations committee,” while CEO Scott Blackmun “serves on the marketing commission.” The IOC membership “will grow to 113 in September” with 13 new members (AP, 7/2).
STILL A LOT OF WORK TO GO: 3 WIRE SPORTS’ Alan Abrahamson wrote the U.S. “still has a long, long way to go in becoming a power player in the IOC along the lines of, say, Switzerland, with five members.” It is “nearly four years ago now that Chicago got thumped” when the IOC voted for the ‘16 Summer Games host city. That decision for the USOC “was, indisputably, the low point.” Probst’s membership is “for sure a milestone.” Over time, it is likely to mean "more influence for the United States within the IOC, and as the USOC is considering bids for future Games -- in particular, as soon as 2024 -- that could be key.” For now, what Probst’s membership “marks is, simply, yet another step in the USOC’s effort at quiet diplomacy.” The U.S. has “for years lacked significant political influence within the IOC.” Easton has in recent years “played a markedly reduced role.” Ruggiero is “widely seen as an up-and-comer,” but at the same time, as “an athlete member, she is already three years through her fixed term of eight years.” There are 35 Olympic sports, summer and winter, and the U.S. has “no presidents among any of those 35 federations.” It only has one "secretary general from among any of the 35, Svein Romstad, who runs the luge federation.” Abrahamson wrote, “It’s going to take more -- a lot more -- to win the United States an Olympic Games. Everyone should keep that in mind” (3WIRESPORTS.com, 7/2).
PULLING DOUBLE DUTY: In Chicago, Philip Hersh writes Probst is “about to become an Olympic ‘lifer.’” His status as an IOC member “will depend on his remaining a top official of the USOC.” Since another U.S. member “should be of significant benefit to the USOC, Probst would need to stay chairman for at least a third term to assure maximizing the length of his IOC membership.” Hersh: “That home office thing went out the window about three years ago. Probst has worn out his passport traveling the world to rebuild the USOC’s disintegrated international relations.” Probst also is “running EA as executive chairman as the company searches for a new CEO.” Unlike former USOC Chair Peter Ueberroth, who “alienated many IOC members with his sharp-tongued candor, Probst airs disagreements only in private” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/3).
PRESIDENT RACE CREATING A BUZZ: The AP’s Wilson noted bidding for the ‘20 Games and the “race for the IOC presidency are reaching a pivotal stage” with the voting “just over two months away.” The presidential race is “generating more buzz than the 2020 contest among the members.” IOC Marketing Commission Chair Gerhard Heiberg said, “The most important thing we do is to elect a president. It’s more important than organizing cities for the games. We have many challenges coming.” He added, “We will elect a person for eight years. This person will mean a lot of difference in the IOC, the thinking, the strategy. I meet a lot of IOC members and they talk about nothing else.” IOC VP Thomas Bach has been “considered a front-runner, but favorites don’t always win in the unpredictable world of IOC elections” (AP, 7/2).
RUMOR HAS IT: In Tulsa, Michael Overall reports the Tulsa Sports Commission “got some troubling phone calls and emails this week” following a report about an “effort to bring the 2024 Olympics to town.” TSC Senior VP Ray Hoyt and city Mayor Dewey Bartlett “called a news conference Tuesday morning to make it perfectly clear.” Hoyt said, "We are not actively seeking an Olympic bid. Or supporting it." Hoyt said that the Olympic hype “threatened to distract from more realistic goals, such as bringing Big XII championships and NCAA tournaments to Tulsa.” He added, "We have to protect our credibility. We don't want to approach people about events that they know we can't accommodate" (TULSA WORLD, 7/3). Also in Tulsa, John Klein writes the Olympics is “off the chart for this size of a city.” It actually would “overwhelm the entire state, swamping our existing facilities, resources and costing billions to host." It is “great to dream big, and proponents of bringing the 2024 Olympics are dreaming big, but it just isn't realistic." Klein: “Major golf championships? No problem. Been there. Done that. Major NCAA championship events? Bring them on. The Olympics? No chance” (TULSA WORLD, 7/3).