With two weeks and one day to go before Vancouver 2010 opens, IOC president Jacques Rogge held court with media on a wide-ranging Jan. 28 teleconference.
Rogge was at the IOC headquarters in quaint Lausanne, Switzerland where it was more wintry than in El Nino-affected Vancouver.
“I’m optimistic that it will be a great success. The only thing I might wish is you have the snowfall we had this morning in Lausanne, that might come in a couple of days in Vancouver.”
Here’s what else the leader of the Olympic movement had to say.
On impacts of the economy:
“The Games are still not over and definitely NBC can still sell advertising at this stage. Also do not forget the rights we negotiate are a package between summer and winter. There are winters that are yielding a lot of profit, others a little bit less. The opposite goes for summer. On the cycles of summer and winter, the broadcasters definitely make a profit.
“We had absolutely no effect, the contracts of the sponsors were signed long before the economic crisis. None of the sponsors has defaulted, none of the host broadcasters has defaulted. We didn’t feel the effect of it.”
On the IOC pledge to help VANOC cover its losses:
“There is no fixed guarantee, we have agreed together with VANOC should that there be a shortfall we would help them out of that shortfall together with other stakeholders, but there is no fixed sum being allocated.
“The latest we heard and we discussed with VANOC is they’re heading for a balanced budget, but of course you always have to wait for the final outcome and this is something that will be known probably six weeks after the Games. As usual the bills come in at the last part of the party.”
On the $900 million security budget for Vancouver 2010:
“It is not as much a reflection of the Games that grow, it is a reflection of the world that is changing. We are living in a different world today, we’re not living in the world we had 10 years ago, that’s a reflection we can have. Whether we are happy with that or not is definitely not a subject for discussion, but we are living in a more dangerous world and this is something that affects not only sport, but every major organization, every major mass-gathering needs more security.”
On ticket sales and prices:
“I cannot give you the exact figure on the number of tickets sold. As far as the spread of the prices of tickets is concerned we always try to find a good spread that serves as much as possible all groups of society.”
On the battle against doping:
“We are making inroads, it has become far more difficult for athletes to cheat than a couple of years ago. This is because we have done more testing… we have frozen the samples and retest them when the new method is available as we just have done with the samples of Beijing. We work closely with police to help us when we suspect there is a network or a drug ring.”
On gender testing of athletes:
“There is no mandatory gender testing. There is a provision with experts should a case arise and should there be the feeling there is a need to have testing with an individual, that can be done. Normally there is no gender testing unless extraordinary circumstances and then we have a team in place.”
Rogge arrives in Vancouver on Feb. 4. When he’s not staying with the rest of IOC brass at the Westin Bayshore, he will overnight in a room set aside for him at the Vancouver Olympic Village. Rogge represented Belgium in yachting during at Mexico 1968, Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976 and became IOC president in 2001 at Moscow.
The Bayshore is rapidly becoming the most-secure hotel in Canada, surrounded by three-ply fences and concrete barriers, along with the infamous Perimeter Intrusion Detection System surveillance cameras and sensors.
The IOC executive board meets there Feb. 7 and 8, but Rogge will hold a Feb. 8 news conference at the main press centre.
On Feb. 9, selected media will get a tour of the Vancouver 2010 anti-doping laboratory at the Richmond Olympic Oval and the Vancouver Olympic Village.
The 122nd IOC session opening ceremony is Feb. 9 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. On Feb. 10, the IOC will elect the host city for the second Summer Youth Olympics. It’s a two-city race between Nanjing, China and Poznan, Poland.
The session continues Feb. 11 and 12 with Rogge’s pre-Games news conference in the MPC at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 12. The session reconvenes and adjourns the session Feb. 28 with the final Rogge news conference of the Games at 12:15 p.m.
News and views on Vancouver 2010 (and beyond) from Bob Mackin.