The team culture and values "will be given a higher priority in preparing the 2016 Australian Olympic team, in the wake of "well-publicised disciplinary issues within the once highly successful Australian swimming and cricket teams," according to Nicole Jeffery of THE AUSTRALIAN. The high performance managers of Australia's Olympic sports attended a forum in Sydney Wednesday "to begin planning" for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, but the hot topic quickly "became the need to ensure those athletes in the next Olympic team understood their responsibilities and the behavioural standards required of them." The meeting "called for a set of consistent values to be introduced across all 28 sports." Sailing Performance Dir Peter Conde said that "all teams needed to have the same values." Conde said, "The values need to be elevated into the consciousness of the entire team well before Rio in '16, we need to build on them for the next three years. We need to map them to the Olympic ideals to change behavior" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/14).
India Sports Minister Jitendra Singh is ready to talk to the IOC "with an open mind" on the issue of suspension of the Indian Olympic Association, according to Mahendra Kumar Singh of the TIMES OF INDIA. The IOC has invited the minister for a discussion on the "contentious issue which is seen as a positive move towards India's return to the Olympic fold." Singh: "I am open to talks with IOC." The Indian government and the IOC "are at loggerheads" after the IOC banned India for recognizing the IOA election results. The elections were held on the directions of a High Court order but the move has been labelled as "government interference" by the world body. Singh also said that "he is determined to bring back wrestling among the core sports disciplines in the Olympic Games" (TIMES OF INDIA, 3/13).
An official audit report revealed state overspending on Sochi '14 "amounts to more than half a billion dollars while the government has failed to provide a lasting legacy for sporting venues," according to the AFP. Russia's federal audit office "gave a damning verdict on preparations for the Sochi Games, as well as plans for dealing with the giant venues once the Olympics are over." The Audit Chamber said cost overruns were the fault of state corporation Olympstroi, whose officials "created preconditions for unnecessary increase of construction cost for sports venues," which amounted to 15.5B rubles ($505M). The report said that Olympstroi had taken "decisions which increased cost of objects without giving reasons for new calculations." The Audit Chamber also noted the "lack of any plan for future usage of Sochi's sports infrastructure." The report said, "The problem of effective use of Olympic heritage objects is one of the most important and must be solved immediately," noting that no program for future venue usage had yet been agreed (AFP, 3/13).
BHP Billiton is the subject of a joint US-Australian bribery investigation into the firm's dealings with foreign officials, "including Chinese dignitaries wooed as part of a multimillion-dollar hospitality and sponsorship program for the 2008 Beijing Olympics," according to McKenzie, Baker & Garnaut of THE AGE. The allegations are the "subject of a probe" by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Australian Federal Police. The company declined to respond to questions from Fairfax Media sent on Tuesday morning about "alleged impropriety" linked to the Beijing Games and activities in Western Australia, other than to say it believed ''our Olympics activities complied with all applicable law." Investigators are scrutinizing activities of BHP Billiton in the lead-up to and during the Beijing Olympics. Between 2000 and 2008, the company "spent millions on a major Olympics sponsorship deal and a hospitality package." The deal, according to the resume of one Chinese BHP Billiton employee, involved "more than 170 VIPs including senior government officials and CEOs of Chinese minerals/ steel industry" (THE AGE, 3/13). In Sydney, Fitzgerald & Murdoch reported BHP Billiton believes it has "nothing to fear" from an ongoing US-Australian anti-graft probe. BHP said, "We believe our Olympics activities complied with all applicable law." It added that its policies "specifically prohibit engaging in bribery in all its forms" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/14).
Telekom and the Hungarian Olympic Committee have signed a new cooperation agreement. The deal, valid until the end of '16, states that Magyar Telekom will offer its telecom services as Platinum level sponsor the company assists the renewed Hungarian Olympic Committee achieving its objectives and the preparation of athletes to attend the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (Telekom). ... Around 700 construction workers "have been evacuated from a camp near some of the Sochi Olympic facilities after a river burst its banks." Heavy rain caused the Mzymta river to breach a protective dam Wednesday morning, "causing water to flow into the camp, home to around 1,500 workers" (R-SPORT, 3/13). ... Dow Chemical Company has been announced by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee as the Official Carbon Partner of the XXII Olympic Winter Games (Dow). ... The Central Bank of Russia announced it will issue a commemorative 100 rouble note in October, just a few months before the start of the Sochi Olympic Games. The design of the banknote features a snowboarder in the foreground with a graphic of Fisht Stadium, the Populous-designed main stadium for the Games (Populous). ... Two U.K. architecture firms will assist with venue design for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio after winning contracts. Firm and Architects will team up with a Rio based firm to design the handball arena, while 3D Reid, who worked on the 2014 Commonwealth Games velodrome, will deliver Rio’s velodrome (ISPORTCONNECT, 3/13).