May 18, 2000

Kevan Gosper, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive from Australia, apologized to the IOC for sparking controversy over the Sydney torch relay, then withdrew from next week’s flame ceremonies in Guam. Gosper’s 11-year-old daughter replaced another girl as the first Australian to run with the torch last week. He had been cleared of misconduct charges earlier by the IOC, and although he was stripped of his ceremonial torch duties, he was reinstated shortly after. Gosper will rest at an undisclosed location in Europe and then fly to Rio de Janeiro next week for the IOC executive board meeting. A replacement for Gosper will be appointed. It’s uncertain whether Gosper will take part in ceremonies when the Olympic flame arrives on Australian soil June 8.

Meanwhile all 14 directors on the Sydney Organizing Committee (SOCOG) board will run sections of the torch relay in its 100-day Australian tour. SOCOG reviewed about 43,000 public applications for the torch relay positions and chose about 5,000. Another 5,000 positions went to Olympians, sponsors and VIP’s, including Australian golfer Greg Norman, who will run the torch across the Harbor Bridge in Sydney.

NBC will air 437.5 hours of Olympic coverage on three different channels, but it won’t be live because of the 15-hour time difference between Sydney and the East Coast. Coverage will include a main nightly network show and daily shows on cable outlets MSNBC and CNBC. Coverage begins two days prior to the Sept. 15 opening ceremonies with the televising of a preliminary men’s soccer game.

It’s not the protesters this time; it’s seepage of contaminated water that has halted construction on the Olympic beach volleyball stadium on Bondi Beach. Tests by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) on water pooling in foundation holes have revealed low-level contamination. The 50 workers on site held a stop-work meeting earlier Tuesday, but decided to continue working on other areas of the beach. The workers will receive hepatitis A inoculations. An EPA spokesman said the water would be pumped into trucks and taken to a nearby sewage treatment plant. The Olympic Coordination Authority says it’s certain no sewer pipes have been ruptured.

Greek sports minister George Floridis and Australian Olympics minister Michael Knight launched a cooperation accord between Greece and Australia in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece. Knight pledged the support of his country to provide assistance with preparations for the Athens Games. Floridis said they had discussed all major problems relating to the Games and Greek officials were already in Sydney following its preparations.

Also International Olympic Organizers have given Athens organizers 100 days to overcome major delays and get back on schedule. At that time inspectors from the IOC will return to Greece to check on whether organizational changes made by the Greek government will fulfill promises to catch up on what they call nearly three years of wasted time. Jacques Rogge, the head of the IOC team overseeing Athens, cited numerous problems including hotel accommodations, establishing a host broadcaster, construction and new locations of some sports venues, and transportation infrastructure.

And finally, Salt Lake’s organizing committee has declined the IOC’s request for a memo described as the “smoking gun” of the Salt Lake Olympic scandal during the federal investigation. The committee says the memo should not be released until the investigation has ended. It’s believed the memo was written shortly after Salt Lake City lost the 1998 Winter Games to Nagano, Japan and to describe how the bid was won. But the Deseret News quotes an anonymous source saying the memo more closely resembles a “game plan” for influencing IOC members rather than a blow-by-blow account of what was actually done.