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Volume 10 No. 25


With the Sochi Games concluding Sunday, the Olympic spotlight is "now turning from Eastern Europe to South America" and the 2016 Rio Games, according to NBC's Natalie Morales. NBC's Bill Neely reports shifting from Sochi to Rio "could hardly be more different than this." Rio is the first South American city ever to be awarded the Games, and officials have "two years to get ready, but they've got problems, too." While the Opening Ceremony stadium is "ready, most venues are not," and the main Olympic park "is a building site." Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said of the unfinished sites, "These are scheduled. That's what we've got to prove that we can deliver things on schedule." Neely said IOC officials have noted Rio does not have a "day to waste." Paes said, "I can guarantee that these Games will be ready on time." But Neely notes that Rio "has a dark side." Since the city won the Games, its police have "struggled against the drug gangs that rule many neighborhoods." They patrol "aggressively, trying to make Rio safe for the Summer Games, but parts of this city remain violent" ("Today," NBC, 2/24).

PRIMED FOR PYEONGCHANG: In N.Y., Matthew Futterman wrote ahead of the '18 PyeongChang Games, there were around 200 South Korean observers in Sochi, "taking notes on everything from security to transportation to the design of the venues." Like Sochi, PyeongChang "is a massive project that includes a new high-speed rail line and expressway, construction of six venues and a plethora of housing." Pyeongchang also "has yet to begin selling major sponsorships" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/24).

NOT TOO SOON TO THINK ABOUT TOKYO: REUTERS' Karolos Grohmann reported Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said that he traveled to the Sochi Games to assure the IOC he was "fully committed to Olympic preparations after his predecessor resigned over a financial scandal." The city is hosting the '20 Games, and Masuzoe said, "There are so many challenges but my highest priority is the possibility of a disaster. The worst thing that one can think of is a disaster right in the middle of the Games. So, for me, disaster prevention and disaster mitigation plans are very important" (REUTERS, 2/24).

UK Sport said that it "expects to increase funding for winter sports" following Great Britain's record-equaling Winter Olympic performance in Sochi, according to Nick Hope of the BBC. Team GB won four medals in Sochi, which "matched their total from the inaugural Winter Olympics in 1924 in France." Six sports shared a fund of £13.4M ($22.3M) over the past four years, but that pot "could now be boosted" for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. UK Sport Chief Liz Nicholl: "It's been an outstanding Games and the athletes need and deserve the support" (BBC, 2/24). The six sports that shared the fund were bobsleigh, curling, figure skating, short track speed skating, skeleton and ski and snowboard (UK Sport). In London, Owen Gibson reported the current cycle was the first where UK Sport's "no compromise" principles have been "rigorously applied to winter sports in the same way as summer ones." It was "targeted at six sports." Of those, all but the women's bobsleigh team "managed to hit their targets." Final decisions on funding for the next four years "will be made in July" (GUARDIAN, 2/24). In London, Robin Scott-Elliot reported Great Britain's "Fridge Kids" are "set to benefit" from an increase in funding. The skeleton and curling teams "are also likely to receive more money" toward the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics after their "medal-winning successes." UK Sport, which oversees the spending of lottery and public money for Olympic sports, "has faced criticism over its decision to withdraw funding from basketball while spending on minority sports like skeleton and curling." Nicholl "defended the approach," one of “no compromise” that is strictly designed to win medals. It leaves Sport England "to deal separately with funding grass-roots sport and increasing participation" (INDEPENDENT, 2/24).