Aug. 3/2000

Sydney Olympic authorities have begun a probe over concerns about Sydney’s airport’s ability to cope with Olympic traffic. The report is due Tuesday. All international and domestic takeoffs were grounded after the airport was shut down Tuesday for 80 minutes. It’s the second time in less than a month. More than 500 flights were delayed, diverted or cancelled. Sydney’s federal transport minister ordered a review of airport power supply problems to be conducted by an independent electrical engineering group. Also, an internal investigation is being conducted into claims that maintenance cuts at the airport are affecting vital equipment, stemming from a radar blackout July 6.

They may play to an empty house. Because Sydney’s Olympic Committee wanted to market Opera Australia tickets to Olympic sponsors, the IOC and Olympic groups, the opera company is in danger of playing to near empty houses during the two weeks of the Olympic Games. The dismal sales have forced the dance company to take back its control of ticketing. Sales for some performances were as low as five to six per cent of capacity compared to a 70 per cent average for the company’s usual winter season.

If Australia continues its restrictions on foreign media access to the Sydney Olympic Games, and the matter is not resolved quickly, the European Union (EU) will summon it before the World Trade Organization (WTO). The EU Trade Commissioner said the restrictions on the media would appear to constitute a breach of Australia’s obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services, which falls within the jurisdiction of the WTO.

La Nina is leaving, increasing the possibility of dry weather during the Sydney Olympics. During the past two years parts of Australia has endured near-record rainfall and severe flooding, but now Australian weathermen expect a return to normal conditions in Sydney; mostly dry with the temperature between 54 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

And Putin may be coming. Russian president Vladimir Putin may attend the Sydney Olympic Games, if his schedule allows it. It seems Putin wants to support Russian athletes at the Sydney Games.

Salt Lake City’s 2002 marketing officials are concerned that a plan by several Western states to lure tourists by promoting the Olympics will cut into their fund-raising efforts. The Utah Travel Council has teamed up with its counterparts in Idaho, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming to create a marketing campaign aimed at enticing Olympic visitors to stay on after the Games and visit other regions. Each state has agreed to put $200,000 into the regional campaign and in return are counting on $4 million in corporate sponsorships to help fund their campaign.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has urged the International Olympic Committee to amend its charter to ban gambling in Olympic Games events. Only the IOC has the power to effect a legal ban. Coates says the IOC could vote to amend the charter when it meets in Sydney September 11.

And finally, a Utah state investigation into Salt Lake City’s vote-buying scandal may be closed by Utah’s attorney general without any action being taken. It seems a federal grand jury made short work of the state’s investigation by citing Utah’s commercial bribery law to anchor a federal conspiracy charge against Salt Lake’s highest-ranking bid officials. The charges filed are based on state criminal violations, so there’s no reason for Utah to pursue it further.