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Volume 6 No. 192


The IOC on Wednesday unanimously awarded L.A. the 2028 Games, a $5.3B project that marks the culmination of a decade-long effort to return the event to American soil. As expected, there was no opposition from members to the back-room deal hatched earlier this year to give Paris the 2024 Games simultaneously. “For me this is truly a day of real emotion,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “What does history feel like? It feels like this. For me, it’s not just the happiness of the win but the joy of beginning.”

WORKING TOGETHER: L.A. and Paris squabbled at times during the campaign, but with the order now settled, they have promised to share ideas and plan to improve the athletes’ and fans’ experience. They also have promised to communicate about changes to the sport program, which host cities are now able to propose under new IOC rules. “One thing we did not expect was that even this victory would be shared with our friends from Los Angeles,” said Paris bid co-Chair Tony Estanguet. “All together, we will share the unique power of Olympism, city to city, flame to flame, all together. With your help we will start a new journey of trust, optimism and shared success.”

SELLING CERTAINTY: With the combo deal, the IOC now can sell certainty over the Games location to sponsors and broadcasters. It also sidesteps at least one competitive vote at a time when a scandal over possible vote-buying in Rio and Tokyo is emerging. “It is hard to imagine something better,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. At one point, the IOC’s traditional skepticism about U.S. Games emerged briefly. The only question of the day’s proceeding, from Tunku Imran of Malaysia, was whether the U.S. government had guaranteed special athlete and coach visas for the ’28 Games. The White House has given those assurances.

PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee President Lee Hee-beom faced tough questions from IOC members on Wednesday, as concerns mount about limited accommodations, poor ticket sales and a clear plan to use some Olympic facilities after the February Games. In an attempt to supercharge ticket sales, Lee said the committee has sent letters to 17 regional politicians, school superintendents and the tourism industry asking for their help. In late August, PyeongChang said only 5% of its 1.8 million tickets had been sold domestically, with another 18% sold to int'l distributors. There is a vast gap in demand among the South Korean public between the most popular and least popular sports, Lee said, with demand up to four times supply in beloved sports like short-track speed skating, figure skating and ice hockey. Meanwhile, cross country skiing and the Paralympics have sold 10-20% of supply, he said.

WAITING ON ANSWERS: Separately, IOC members complained that national Olympic teams were not being informed about lodging that has been made available to them. Also, the IOC is still awaiting long-term plans for the sliding center, the ice oval and a hockey facility, a crucial question for the IOC in light of the attention on the white elephant structures in Rio, Sochi and Athens. Also, Lee admitted the travel times from Seoul to the Olympic venues on a newly-constructed rail line are longer than originally promised, and they are considering eliminating some intermediate train stops during the Games. "There is still a lot of work to do and we will address the issues which have been identified,” said IOC member Gunilla Lindberg, who chairs the PyeongChang oversight committee.

Tokyo 2020 has sold 43 domestic sponsorships worth $2.8B, blowing past the prior sales benchmark for a single Games, and is not done selling, Tokyo Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Moto said. "This is a record number of local sponsors," Moto told the IOC session in Lima, Peru. "We are aiming to increase the value of the Games through sponsorship activations through partner companies, and securing even more local sponsors." The figure is three times Tokyo 2020's original sales revenue budget, a surge that experts say reflects the country's nationalistic business culture and robust interest in the Games that is allowing for some unconventional deals. For instance, Tokyo 2020 has sold two gold-level sponsorships in the banking category to Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group.

'REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT': IOC VP John Coates, chair of the IOC's oversight committee for Tokyo, called it a "remarkable achievement, particularly when you realize that Toyota, Panasonic and Bridgestone are TOP partners and not included in those amounts." Despite the strong revenue picture, Tokyo and the IOC continue to look to cut costs from the Games' $12.6B operating budget, which has doubled from its original bid projections. "We are concerned we must continue to reduce operational costs because of the impression that it gives," Coates said. "There's no issues here about the Japanese organizing committee and the government being able to fund this, but I think it gives the wrong message if we continue to have Games that cost too much." Beijing 2008 set the prior record with $1.2B, and London 2012 and Rio 2016 both sold about $1B in domestic sponsorships, in figures unadjusted for inflation. In its most recently published plan, the L.A. 2028 bid committee plans on selling $1.9B worth of domestic sponsorships.

Former WADA President Dick Pound accused the IOC of "doing nothing" about its growing corruption crisis. Several IOC officials have been implicated in corruption in '17. Pound, also an IOC senior official, said, "We've taken a severe hit in terms of credibility. Every time another IOC member is implicated in something potentially nefarious we lose more credibility" (BBC, 9/12).

Tokyo 2020 Organizers on Tuesday rejected allegations by 47 non-governmental organizations that they had used companies with "suspect logging track records," saying that all material purchased was "strictly regulated." In an open letter to the IOC on Monday, the NGOs said that there was "mounting evidence the Tokyo Games were using timber through companies associated with illegal logging and human and labor rights violations." Tokyo organizers said that the source rules developed had been the "result of extensive consultations and were subject to constant regulation" (REUTERS, 9/12).