Jul. 7/2000

Instead of channel surfing for delayed telecasts of the Sydney Olympics, you’ll be able to log on to the Internet for up-to-the-minute coverage. There’s www.olympics.com, the official Web site sponsored by IBM and the Sydney Organizing Committee, www.horizon.olympic.org, sponsored by Olympic Solidarity, an arm of the International Olympic Committee, has the five gold-medallist hopefuls as they prepare to compete in Australia, the Sydney 2000 Fans site www.sydney2000fans.com is a private site offering a synopsis of each of the 28 Olympic events and when the Games begin the site will shift its focus from the sports arenas to the party scene, and if you’re not sure to what to wear to the Games, weather permitting, log on to www.bom.gov.au/olympic.

Tough legislation and other measures will protect Olympic partners against unlicensed marketing from rivals during the 2000 Games. An example called “ambush advertising” occurs when companies set up illegal sidewalk stalls or participate in other non-sanctioned promotions or sample giveaways near venues, hang banners from bridges on motorways or tow advertising behind aircraft flying over venues. Only paying sponsors will be allowed access to advertising space in or around all Olympic venues and in six “Olympic Live” sites around the city, where giant screens will simulcast broadcasts during the Games.

Twice in one week Sydney Airport’s newly installed baggage handling systems has failed. In the first instance 21 flights were delayed and more than 2000 pieces of luggage went missing because of software failure. There are fears that the systems may not be able to cope with an influx of visitors for the Olympic Games. Although Sydney’s airport director said it will work for the Olympics, the Transport Workers Union spokesman was not totally confident this would happen.

A visually impaired man has taken legal action over the inaccessibility of parts of the Sydney Olympics Web site. He took his claim to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission but Sydney organizers (SOCOG) claimed the commission did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter. Although it didn’t agree, the commission had to postpone the hearing pending an appeal by SOCOG, which will probably not be heard until after the Olympics. The man had earlier taken successful action against SOCOG because the Sydney Olympic ticket order form was not available in Braille.

The International Olympic Committee has paid Sydney organizers $3.5 million to prepare a report of 100 key pregames activities, from accreditation to ticket sales, which is to serve as a blueprint for hosting an Olympics. Officials from the Athens 2004 organizing committee and the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Games committee and representatives of potential host cities from Beijing to Paris attended the three-day seminar. SOCOG will update the Transfer of Knowledge document after the Sydney Games.

Visual minorities will be recruited as employees and volunteers for the Sydney Olympics to give more work to minority-owned business, as long as the applicants are qualified. Also more minority volunteers will be recruited by advertising on a Spanish-language television station and by contacting minority community groups. The Salt Lake Organizing Committee plans to buy more supplies from minority-owned business and to list its needs on its Web site to make it easier for suppliers to track them.

It may not be a problem getting a hotel in Athens during the 2004 Games, because Olympic organizers have signed an agreement with hotel operators, breaking one of the major roadblocks in preparations for the Games. Hotels now must set aside about 25,000 rooms, or 80 per cent of the total number of rooms necessary to accommodate officials, including sponsors, judges and International Olympic Committee members. And the organizing committee will guaranty the booking of 75 per cent of these rooms by January 15, 2003. Until this date the organizers can cancel the reservations of the other 25 per cent, but will have to pay cancellation charges if the number of cancelled bookings exceeds this amount. Full payment for the rooms will be made in four installments ending on June 15, 2004.

Israeli delegations, organized by the Israel Export Institute (IEI) are going to Greece in November and December to attend exhibitions and symposiums in preparation for participating in the business activity generated by the Olympic Games. Tenders for business operations in the Games are to be published at the end of this year. The business activity to be generated by the Games is estimated at $15 billion. The IEI official in charge of international projects said that Games organizers in Greece are interested in Israeli know-how and technologies in smart cards, project management, large-scale ticket sales, security, architectural design, infrastructure and environmental issues. They are also considering the possibility of flying food, catering services and buses from Israel to the Olympic Games.

And finally, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is providing free access to the beta-prototype of the Olympic News Portal (ONP) for use by the world’s media through a link on the IOC Olympic Portal. The new portal is accessible from the Sydney 2000 World News link. ONP collects and lists the links to articles covering the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games from the major news sources present on the Internet. More than 60 news sources, representing all continents and covering six languages; English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish are now included and the number of sources will increase to 150 in the coming weeks. For now, only news related to the Sydney Olympics and the IOC is being monitored and listed. Other topics related to the Olympic Movement will be added over time as the software is perfected and the site’s capabilities are enhanced.