March 9, 2000

International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Kevan Gosper resigned from the IOC ethics commission and is now facing a further investigation of allegations that he accepted excessive hospitality from Salt Lake bidders. The commission will now appoint an “independent expert of high reputation” to review the case as soon as possible. One of its members, former United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, will act as the go-between in contacts between the independent expert and the commission. Perez de Cuellar said the inquiry would take a few weeks.

Meanwhile two more senior executives have left the organizing committee of the Sydney Olympics because of a switch in Internet arrangements for the Sydney Games. Under restructuring, Olympic sponsor IBM will take sole charge of developing and maintaining the Internet site for the Games.

Also, after the walk-out of more than 100 workers from the Sydney 2000 Olympic aquatic center building site, the venue for swimming and diving at the Olympics, about 25 workers returned to work the following day. The workers listed 30 major safety issues, claiming that the solid concrete paneling being used on the 12,500 seat extension was too heavy for the steel structural frame and live electrical wires were being dangerously exposed to water and steel. Union officials representing the workers said the issues had been brought to the attention of the construction company, but nothing had been done. The Olympic Coordination Authority said independent reviews of working conditions and design were being conducted at the site.

To add to Sydney’s woes, Australian rowing officials were forced to postpone recent national championships after competitors criticized the multi-million-dollar regatta course west of Sydney. The championships were called off when it became clear that some lanes were faster than others. Apparently high crosswinds had give crews in the lanes nearest the southern bank more protection from the weather than rowers in other lanes. Australia’s Olympic Committee president John Coates said “this is a course that has been designed with extra lanes so that you can move the six lanes to either side of the course”.

Here’s some good news for the Australian public. Sydney 2000 Olympic organizers are putting more than two million tickets on general sale next month. The extra tickets are either those that haven’t been sold, or those returned from national Olympic committees and from sponsors. And a change of protocol for the closing ceremony, allowing athletes onto the arena for the celebration, has released 10,000 seats previously reserved.

And finally, the Salt Lake City Olympics is using the Internet to recruit most of its massive volunteer staff. Ed Eynon, senior vice president of human resources and international relations of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee said the Internet was much more efficient and “broadens our ability to get the message out to people”. Organizers need 26,000 volunteers to work the Olympics from Feb. 8-24 and the Paralympics from March 7-16, 2002.