April 14, 2000

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman professor Allan Fels, issued the Sydney Olympic Organizing Committee a notice to revoke a plan to use Visa credit cards as the only form of payment for Olympics tickets in the next release. The SOCOG proposal to give exclusive rights to Visa, an Olympic sponsor, was designed to streamline the distribution of the remaining 3.1 million tickets. But there was opposition from consumer groups, who claimed it discriminated against Australians who didn’t possess a Visa card.

According to Sydney Olympic organizers, the first and last test event for the longest torch relay in Olympic history went without any major problems. A team of 200 people, including 100 torchbearers, traveled the 186-kilometer (115-mile) leg between Batemans Bay and Kiama on the New South Wales State south coast.

Meanwhile, a quarterly survey by the St. George Bank and New South Wales State Chamber of Commerce showed that one in three businesses are not prepared for the Sydney Olympic Games and the retail sector was best prepared while the communications services industry was least prepared. Most businesses intending to close during the Games were in the financial, property and manufacturing sectors.

And a promotional Olympic party to celebrate the Salt Lake City Olympics had such a small turnout that commemorative pins promised to the first 100 people to sign up for a one-mile walk around Washington Square ended up with 30 extra pins. Also dozens of posters at a sign-up table at a recruiting booth for volunteers at the Winter Olympics went untouched.

When the Olympics open in Australia, nearly 100 of the athletes will make up a delegation from Home Depot. The company has spent several million dollars to hire 116 Olympic athletes from the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, to pace its floors and advise customers on everything from screws to lawn mowers. It’s using their presence to pump up employee morale. At Home Depot’s 958 North American stores the athletes autograph their colleagues’ aprons and those who have won medals show them off at company parties. Company managers point to the athletes as real-life examples of corporate nostrums like “going for the gold” and “giving it your all”.

And finally, Coldwell Banker Premier Realty has been chosen by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) to be the official manager for residential accommodations. The company will help people arrange for accommodations in private homes during the 2002 Winter Olympics. It plans to charge a commission that could be as high as 40 per cent on home rentals and Scott Webber, president of Coldwell, said homeowners will get to keep more than 50 per cent. SLOC will take on licensing royalty on Coldwell Banker’s commissions.