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OLYMPIC REFORMS NEEDED, OLD DOMINION FACULTY MEMBER SAYS

In light of China's controversial selection to host the 2008 Olympic Games and the recent Salt Lake City Olympic scandal, an Old Dominion researcher says the culture of bidding for the games should be reformed and go beyond "who you know" and politics.

The process' central aim should be procedural fairness and better accountability procedures should be used by local organizing committees and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), says Bob Case, coordinator of the sports management program at Old Dominion University, in a paper delivered to the North American Society of Sport Management's annual conference this spring.

In the paper, Case says:

· Since 1904, cities from the United States have been selected eight times to host the Olympic Games, more than any other country.
· The United States should lead the way in setting ethics guidelines for cities bidding to host future Olympics. U.S. corporations can lead in order to overhaul the IOC and go beyond the revisions that have been enacted.
· The Olympic Games have grown and expanded funding is now required to host them. Prior to hosting the Squaw Valley winter games of 1960, host cities in the United States were primarily responsible for subsidizing the hosting of the games. With the growing impact of television and the influence of corporate sponsorship dollars, the Olympic Games have turned into a major international sporting spectacle, attracting worldwide audiences. Hundreds of millions of dollars are now needed to plan, organize and implement the Olympic Games.

In the United States, host cities have found it necessary to solicit a significant amount of corporate and federal monies in order to successfully stage the Olympic Games. Almost $2 billion in federal funding has been used for the Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City Games.

· Critics argue that the federal government should be involved earlier in the bid planning process in order to provide accountability to its citizens since the federal government is eventually drawn into the funding formula after the Games are awarded. At the present time, the federal government has little involvement in the Olympic Games bid planning process. However, if a U.S. city wins the bid to host the Games, the federal government is quickly drawn into the funding process.

· Impropriety in the bidding process is aided by the governance structure of the IOC, according to two special congressional reports. Recent changes to the IOC governance structure have been initiated.

American businesspeople and host city representatives have been accused of various crimes, ranging from bribery to fraud to racketeering, in an effort to secure a bid to become the host city. In Nagano, Japan, citizens asked where millions of public dollars went and later found out that all the financial records were burned. In Sydney, two IOC members confessed taking $70,000 two nights before the vote for site selection. Fifteen members of the Salt Lake City operations committee were expelled for accepting and giving money.

· Tremendous financial gains are possible for communities that host the Olympic Games. Tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure improvement have taken place in host cities, and millions of dollars in tourism and travel have been infused into local economies. These significant local economic gains and impacts are often offset by large amounts of federal government funding and support for infrastructure improvements, security, etc.

In 1984, $75 million was spent to fund and support the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles; $609 million was spent on the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Approximately $1.3 billion will be spent on the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

At least 24 agencies provided or reported planning to provide a total of almost $2 billion for related projects and activities for the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
This is in addition to the Olympic organizing committee's costs to host the games.

This article was posted on: August 7, 2001

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