March 22, 2000

Eastman Kodak has renewed its worldwide Olympic sponsorship through 2008, valued at more than $100 million. The company will be a global sponsor for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the 2004 Athens Games, the 2006 Winter Games in Turin and the 2008 Summer Games. The price of global sponsorships for the previous four-year period was valued at around $40 million. The fee for the years 2000-2004 has gone up to a reported $50 to $60 million in revenue. The funds are distributed among the Olympic organizing committees, the U.S. Olympic Committee, other national bodies and the International Olympic Committee.

Athens is considering a request to move the 2004 Summer Games from August 13-29 to July in order to avoid clashes with soccer events such as the European Champions League and UEFA Cup. The change in dates would allow international soccer stars to compete in the Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will fill in the gaps in its membership left by the Salt Lake City Winter Games scandal, this September. On a visit to Kenya, executive board member Thomas Bach said “we have identified those we will propose to the IOC for elections in Sydney”.

Meanwhile IOC vice president Kevan Gosper of Australia said he wanted the job as president of the IOC and doesn’t expect an IOC ethics probe into a trip his family took would hurt his chances of winning. Although he said the favored contenders, Belgium’s Jacques Rogge and Canada’s Dick Pound, would prove to be tough competitors.

And bureaucrats in charge of the small ex-Soviet republic’s sports may lose their jobs if their teams falter at the 2000 Olympics. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, who also heads Belarus’ Olympic Committee, told the officials “I want to warn you that after the Olympics, if they are not successful, you will all carefully pack up and find new jobs”. He blames Belarus’ lack of medals at the 1998 Winter Olympics on biased judging and a Western “mafia” conspiracy.

Although Sydney’s Olympic Games are drawing closer, its problems seem to be escalating. The aquatic center grandstand extensions need urgent remedial work and the Olympic Coordination Authority (OCA) is supervising the work to ensure safety for workers and the public. The OCA ordered an urgent engineers’ report after workers on the site started industrial action recently, saying the extension was a death trap. The OCA said access to the extension seating area would be prohibited until the remedial safety requirements, including temporary bracing of structural supports, were met.

And a rail union claims that the Sydney rail system was in a state of chaos with train delays sagging to their worst levels in 18 years. In fact, New South Wales State Rail admitted a passenger train went almost one kilometer down on the wrong track recently in the third incident on the Olympic Park line in the last seven months. There have been nearly 300 complains made about train services each day. Trains were dirty, services were being cancelled and stations closed because of a lack of staff, while rail derailments had increased.

And when the trains finally get there to take them to the venues, tourists should be vigilant. An FBI fraud prevention adviser says the Sydney Olympics could be a boom time for con artists. The large crowd and many foreign currency exchanges going on during the Olympics could provide the perfect setting for counterfeiting. There will be a “tremendous” amount of counterfeit traveller’s cheques and U.S. money. More than three million U.S. dollars worth of forged traveller’s cheques had been passed at the Atlanta Olympics, most of them simple photocopies.

And finally, we end on a positive note. The Sydney Olympics is in the midst of a fundraising project called The Countdown Auction. It started last May 4 and each day until Sept. 14, (the day before the Olympics start) SOCOG will auction one Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Countdown Objet d’art – numbered edition of 500. All funds raised will benefit the staging of the Sydney 2000 Games. The first Countdown Auction began in 1994 at the Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games during which numbered T-shirts were auctioned. The tradition continued at the Nagano and Atlanta Olympic Games.