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Volume 10 No. 25


St. Moritz's plans to bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics jointly with nearby Davos "were narrowly rejected by the public in a referendum on Sunday," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. The referendum was held in the entire Swiss canton of Graubuenden, where both towns are located, and 52.66% of voters said no while 47.34% were in favor. The turnout was 59.14%. St. Moritz "was hoping to host the Games for the third time" after staging them in '28 and '48. Davos has never hosted them. On its website, the Swiss Olympic Committee said, "The rejection of the Olympic candidacy has stopped the Graubuenden 2022 project" (REUTERS, 3/3).

The estimated $50B being spent to prepare the Russian Black Sea resort to host the 2014 Winter Games, makes the $40B spent in readying Beijing to host the 2008 Summer Games look "positively restrained," according to Nicole Jeffery of the AUSTRALIAN. Of that "extravagant total," it is estimated that $265M has been spent on the ski jump venue alone, and it has yet to be finished, "primarily because of an inadequate geological survey, which has left the construction company charged with building the structure struggling to stop it sliding down the mountainside on which it perches above the Mzymta River." Jeffery added that "even travelling through the pre-dawn darkness after arriving on the 4am flight from Istanbul, the destination of most of those billions is obvious." Every one of the 40km between the sea-level Olympic Park and the hub of the mountain venues at Rosa Khutor Resort, "is a construction zone." Russia hopes to use the Winter Games to "reinvigorate the Sochi region and turn it into an all-weather international tourist playground, creating a series of new ski resorts to complement its coastal attractions." Jeffery opined, "There is still much to be done in the year before Sochi welcomes the world's snow and ice athletes, but no one seems to doubt that it will be done." When the rail link to the mountains is completed this year, it "is expected to take just 30 minutes to travel by fast train from the coastal cluster to the Esto-Sadok train station, nestled below the ski jump." That "problematic venue aside, the rest of the mountain venues are all but complete, at least as far as they can be without the co-operation of the weather in providing adequate snow cover" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/4).

With the IOC's Evaluation Commission ready to start its four-day inspection tour on Monday, Tokyo "will face an uphill battle due to a number of factors that could work against it in the coming presentations to the IOC commission," according to KYODO. The evaluation commission will examine Tokyo and assess the city "in order to compile a detailed technical report on Tokyo's plans to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games." Tokyo "must provide explanations on 14 themes, such as the location of venues, security, accommodation, and the all-important vision for the Games." The inspections and subsequent commission report before the IOC's technical briefing on July 3-4 "will be used as a reference for IOC members when they hold their final vote on the host city on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires. "The Japanese Olympic Committee has also been "working feverishly on damage control in the wake of a whistle-blower scandal" in which more than a dozen female judo wrestlers accused their coach Ryuji Sonoda of physical and verbal abuse. One senior member of the Tokyo bid committee said, "Violence toward women is frowned upon overseas more than Japanese people realize. We can't easily brush this away" (KYODO, 3/3).

It is a cause that "unites some of Wall Street’s top financiers with the presidents of Russia and Iran -- the struggle to reinstate wrestling as an Olympic sport," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The IOC "unleashed hell and fury from wrestling’s numerous global outposts." In the margins of the U.S.-Iran nuclear talks, "officials expressed their mutual contempt for the IOC." And in the executive suites of Wall Street, the workplace of a sizeable number of former wrestlers, "the collection tins are being rattled to fund a lobbying campaign aimed at reversing the decision." Fortress Investment Group President Mike Novogratz, who wrestled at Princeton University, "is spearheading the campaign" to raise up to $3M. Other financially prominent supporters include Apollo Global Management Dir Josh Harris, financial services group Guggenheim President Todd Boehly, Deutsche Bank Global Market Equities Head Barry Bausano and RBC Capital Markets Managing Dir Richard Tavoso. Novogratz "reeled off a list of other prominent Americans to pit their wits on the wrestling mat," including 13 presidents, former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Super Bowl MVP winner Ray Lewis, and two of the passengers who fought the 9/11 hijackers of United Airlines flight 93 (FINANCIAL TIMES, 3/3).