Jul. 19/2000

It seems that the Salt Lake City Olympic scandal has done little to discourage advertisers from spending billions of dollars to tie their products to the Sydney Olympic Games. Dick Pound, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee says 10 or 11 international sponsors have signed on, paying more than $55 million (U.S.). And the organizing committee of the Sydney Olympics and the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics will profit from the sale of the sponsorships in a program called The Olympic Partners, taking between them 50 per cent of the revenue. The national Olympic committees will get 40 per cent and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gets 10 per cent. While sponsorship and TV revenue are by far the largest revenue producers inside the Olympic movement, the IOC benefits from local licensing agreements, though the formula for profit sharing is such that an awful lot of product must be sold to realize a large sum. But the IOC still expects to earn about 10 million (U.S.) from Sydney’s licensing agreements. The IOC has also been busy acquiring the rights to the footage of past Olympic Games, which will earn it about another $2 million (U.S.) a year.

An Adelaide-based company called Sharksafe has been given approval to provide Olympic organizers with four free electronic shark repellent devices to be used at the Sydney Games. Electronic repellant devices strapped to divers will be used in Sydney Harbor to keep sharks away from triathletes during the Games.

Although there are economic, political and sporting sanctions against Fiji in the wake of a coup, Fijian athletes and officials traveling to Australia for the Summer Games will be immune from them. Australia’s foreign minister said the government would honour its general obligation to Sydney’s organizers to allow the entry of Fiji Olympic family members (i.e. athletes and officials) for the Sydney Olympics.

Want a free ticket to the Salt Lake Games? Forget about it. Only select U.S. and foreign dignitaries will get in free to the 2002 Winter Olympics. About 200 tickets will go to Utah legislators and the rest will be split among members of the Salt Lake Committee’s board of trustees and state, county, or city officials of Olympic venues. Heads of state, including the U.S. President, foreign ambassadors, the Utah governor and Salt Lake City mayor are among the officials who will have free access to all the events. They’re expected to take about 130 of 1.8 million tickets. Corporate sponsors have already snapped up almost 50 per cent of the tickets, leaving 730,000 for the public. Tickets will go on sale on SLOC’s Web site starting October 10 and will range from $20 for short-track speed skating to $425 for the gold medal hockey game. Opening and closing ceremonies are $885. And as of September 6, tickets for such high-demand events like the opening and closing ceremonies will be sold to the highest bidders in an Internet auction. SLOC hopes to raise $180 million on ticket sales.

Last week Salt Lake Olympic bid officials Tom Welch and Dave Johnson rejected a Justice Department plea deal in the federal investigation of an international vote-buying scheme. Their lawyers said they turned down the deal because it was too sweeping for the circumstances of the case. And Monday the two rejected a second government offer because it involved prison terms and felony admissions, said Johnson’s lawyer. They considered the second offer worse than the original felony plea bargain, which they understood would carry no jail time. Negotiations have broken down and federal conspiracy charges against the bid leaders could be imminent. Olympic boosters, concerned that there may be a federal trial over the bid scandal going on during the 2002 Winter Games, would like to see the bid leaders accept a plea bargain. According to an agreement both sides made, all negotiations have to end by July 27.

And there may be more charges. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that lawyers for Tom Welch and Dave Johnson, former Salt Lake Olympic bid officials believe federal prosecutors may bring charges in connection with $130,000 in cash given to them by Jet Set Sports executives from August 1994 to May 1995. The funds were not recorded on the bid committee’s books, deposited in its bank accounts or reflected on tax filings. The lawyers say it was used for bid-related expenses.

And who pays for this mess? Not the Salt Lake organizers. Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee says his group won’t pay the legal fees of former bid leaders Tom Welch and Dave Johnson. SLOC’s policy is to pay the legal costs of employees and trustees, but if Welch and Johnson were convicted of a felony, they would have to reimburse those costs.

Meanwhile Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees the Justice Department is urging federal prosecutors to play their hand or back off. Referring to the Salt Lake bid scandal investigation, Hatch said he was tired of it; it was time to wrap it up. He added that he didn’t know what evidence federal investigators, were gathering, but doubted the investigation is uncovering any serious criminal wrongdoing.

How embarrassing! Australian television viewers got a sneak peek at Sydney’s Olympic cauldron prior to the Olympic ceremony after images of the stadium were flashed across their screens. Construction workers accidentally unveiled it to the media during tests, unaware that a press conference for the National Rugby League was taking place inside Stadium Australia. The Sydney organizers played down the embarrassing mistake saying the structure is a mast that “is part of a very complex multi-dimension construction to support the Olympic flame when it has been lit. It is not the cauldron”.

The Environmental & Public Health Alliance is devising plans on how to handle a slew of health issues that could crop up during the Summer Olympics. The alliance includes public health officials from the six counties holding the Games; the state’s Health, Environmental Quality and Agriculture agencies and their federal counterparts. Cleanup experts want garbage and wastewater disposals conducted at night, which means landfills and sewage-treatment plants must remain open after normal working hours. And a computerized tracking system is being developed by the state Department of Health to collect and monitor data vital to combating a bio-terrorist attack, or more likely an outbreak of the flu. Others are developing emergency response plans in case of accidents involving waste material, chemicals or biological weapons released by terrorists. And to prevent an outbreak of food poisoning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with the alliance to ensure inspectors consistently recognize unsanitary practices.

And finally, Athens 2004 Olympics introduced the event’s international sponsors Tuesday and they are Coca-Cola, Eastman Kodak, John Hancock Financial Services Inc., McDonalds, Panasonic, Samsung, Sema Group, UPS, Xerox Corp and Visa. The amounts involved in the deals were not disclosed. International Olympic Committee marketing director Michael Payne sought to quash reports that some sponsors were reconsidering their involvement in the Games following the killing of a British diplomat in Athens by a terrorist group last month.