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Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games’

Credentialed media numbered 12,365 in Vancouver. (ATR)

Media Numbers

Media outnumbered athletes by more than four times at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

IOC media operations head Anthony Edgar said there were 12,365 accredited media personnel, including 2,803 written and photographic press, 2,540 host broadcasters (from Olympic Broadcasting Services Vancouver) and 7,296 rights holding broadcasters.

The written and photographic press category included 1,636 journalists, 90 support staff, 199 non-rights holding broadcasters, 698 photographers and 180 technicians.

Internet news portal Yahoo was the most visited Olympic news site during the Games. Statistics show 32 million unique visitors went to Yahoo for Olympic news, while ESPN.com and NBCOlympics.com, the Web site of rights-holding broadcaster NBC, both attracted 19 million unique visitors.

Forty million visitors total visited Yahoo’s site during the Games, logging 314 million minutes.

Yahoo also had more traffic than NBC during the Beijing Olympics.

Own the Podium Boost

Own the Podium gets a $22 million annual funding increase in Canada’s federal budget.

Elite summer and winter athletes will get $69 million federally in the next two fiscal years.

Canada had 26 medals at Vancouver 2010, including a record 14 gold for a Winter Games’ host nation. Own the Podium 2010 included $100 million for Olympic athletes and $10 million for Paralympians.

Apologies and Protests

Apologies and protests have followed a column from Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Gil Lebreton’s comparison of the Vancouver Olympics to the 1936 Nazi Games.

Columnist Gil Lebreton had to apologize for a column comparing the Vancouver Olympics to the Nazi Games of 1936.

Publisher of the Star Telegram Gary Wortel called Lebreton’s comments “insensitive” in an apology. A Facebook group “Hold Gil Lebreton & the Star-Telegram accountable!” had more than 2700 members.

“As publisher of the Star-Telegram, I apologize to readers and all Canadians who were offended by sports columnist Gil LeBreton’s insensitive comparison of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games to those that occurred in Berlin in 1936,” Wortel wrote.

“We reacted quickly to the column with an online apology from LeBreton late Monday and an in-paper version the next day.

On Feb. 28, Lebreton said Canadians only focused on Canadians during the Vancouver Games and not enough attention was paid to the rest of the world’s athletes.

“One thing I never saw: a simple flag or shirt with the five Olympic rings” Lebreton’s column read.” Not anywhere. After 15 Olympics, that was a first.

“I didn’t attend the ’36 Olympics, but I’ve seen the pictures. Swastikas everywhere.

“No political reference is meant, just an Olympic one. What on earth were the Canadians thinking?”

He ended his column with “Nice party. But so 1936.”

Case of the Missing Stick

Reebok is offering a $10,000 reward for the stick and glove Sidney Crosby used during the gold medal game. (Getty Images)

Reebok is offering a $10,000 reward for Sidney Crosby’s missing glove and stick.

The scorer of the gold medal-winning goal for Canada’s men’s hockey team on Feb. 28 dropped his gloves and stick in celebration. One glove and the stick could not be located after the game.

Reebok wants to reunite the glove and stick with Crosby, who could decide to display them at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto or Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

Holiday Pushed

An online petition is lobbying Premier Gordon Campbell to remember the 2010 Games with a holiday on the third Monday of February. The Glowing Hearts Day petition is on GoPetition.com and urges B.C. join five other Canadian provinces with a statutory holiday next February.

With reporting from Bob Mackin in Vancouver.

For general comments or questions, click here.

Your best source of news about the Olympics is http://www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.

(Copyright 1992 2008, all rights reserved. The information in this report may not be published, excerpted, or otherwise distributed in print or broadcast without the express prior consent of Around the Rings.)

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ATR Editor Ed Hula in Vancouver

There’s no way anybody could speculate that grief, not joy, would be the first emotion to sweep over the Vancouver Olympics.

While I mused last week in my first column from Vancouver about what gripping stories might emerge from the 2010 Olympics, the death of an athlete was not one of them.

Minutes after my column went to print, news came of the crash of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. His death made my thoughts trivial, irrelevant.

Who could have the cold nerve to speculate that tragedy would be a story line from the Games?

Leaders of the International Luge Federation could barely contain themselves as they faced the media — unaccustomed, unprepared to talk about the tragedy.

The same could be said for IOC President Jacques Rogge, who switched from a red tie to a black one for his pre-Games press conference last Friday. Somber, Rogge and VANOC chief John Furlong could only convey regret at a news conference that ordinarily would have allowed the two men to wax with enthusiasm about the days ahead for Vancouver.

Vancouver responded with grace, making changes to the opening ceremony to include commemorations for Kumaritashvili.

The luge course has been shortened as a result of the high-speed crash. The move is both a safety measure and a psychological move.

Nodar Kumaritashvili willl be buried this week in Bakuriani, his hometown in the Republic of Georgia (ATR)

Georgia President Mikheil Shaakashvili says a track will be built in Kumaritashvili’s name in his home town. It’s a place I visited three years ago to check out the short-lived bid from Georgia to host the 2014 Winter Games.

Bakuriani is a place of wild beauty in the Caucasus Mountains. It was undeveloped except for a few small hotels and what was then a brand-new ski lift that took 30 minutes to figure out how to get it moving.

Formerly the training site for winter athletes from the Soviet Union, Bakuriani could become a new center of winter sport one day. A new track carrying the name of Nodar Kumaritashvili would help that to happen and perhaps create a place where the Winter Games might take place once day.

More importantly, maybe his death on the track will leave another legacy: renewed attention to the safety of athletes.

“No athlete should die because of a sports accident,” said Shaakashvili.

The irrefutable logic of that statement needs to be adopted by the Olympic Movement — not just unspoken, but as a public credo.

More grim details of the death of are about to emerge when the British Columbia coroner delivers an autopsy and other details of the investigation.

Whether those findings assign blame for the luger’s death to design of the track or pilot error, we can only hope the report will help keep all Olympians safe when they step onto the field of play.

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Written by Ed Hula in Vancouver.

For general comments or questions, click here.

Your best source of news about the Olympics is http://www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.

(Copyright 1992 2008, all rights reserved. The information in this report may not be published, excerpted, or otherwise distributed in print or broadcast without the express prior consent of Around the Rings.)

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Bob Mackin at the Whistler bobsleigh track. (ATR)

Three years ago a business plan for the Vancouver Olympics predicted the Games would be recession-free. Oops! ATR Vancouver correspondent Bob Mackin has more on what the sour economy has meant to the 2010 Olympics in this Op Ed.

This column originally appeared at Vancouver 24 on Jan. 11.

Once upon a time, when Vancouver 2010 was an itty-bitty bid, they were called the “Sea to Sky Games.”

Then the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave its seal of approval in 2003, when President Jacques Rogge opened an envelope in Prague and read “Vancouver”.

Hello, Canada’s Games.

The years turned to months and months turned to weeks. Now we count the days and hours until the wintry version of the Montreal Olympics.

Welcome to the Bailout Games.

Even with the intense participation of some of the world’s biggest corporations, the 2010 Winter Olympics are being held together by government spending — much of it never contemplated before the economic bubble burst weeks after the 2008 Beijing Games.

A year ago, amid the doldrums of the Great Recession, VANOC’s message was all about being the shining light that would guide British Columbia safely through the turmoil of the times because it had a billion dollars to spend. Then came the spring, and chief executive John Furlong’s admission that making a profit was unlikely. Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Rudge said in May there would be no financial legacy of Vancouver 2010. Just venues.

VANOC’s chief financial officer, John McLaughlin, said it best in a June teleconference discussing quarterly financial results.

“While some experts are suggesting the worst is behind us, we don’t believe we’ll see a marked improvement,” McLaughlin said.

Boom Busted

Not since London 1948, the first Games after World War II, has an Olympic organizing committee faced such daunting economic challenges.

Publicly, VANOC has continuously stated that its sponsors are fulfilling their core obligations of goods, services and cash. But sponsors have not bought all the tickets, hotel rooms, advertising and branded merchandise they were expected to.

It was the slow sales of out-of-home advertising coupled with the IOC failure to sign up two more global sponsors that led to the IOC’s August pledge to help cover up to $22 million in losses after the Games. Ultimately, B.C.’s taxpayers will be called upon to make the budget balance when VANOC winds up in 2011.

VANOC did its best to cozy up to governments when the private sector well went dry. Last June, the billboard across the street from its 3585 Graveley St. headquarters thanked all 22 government partners in both official languages. The poster showed the mascots waving the Canadian flag. It was significant, especially because the maple leaf doesn’t actually fly outside City of Vancouver-owned property VANOC leases.

So how did it get in this mess?

It was simply not prepared.

When it published the $1.63 billion budget and business plan in May 2007, the word “recession” appeared once in the 196-page document. There it is on page 94, the first of five assumptions. “The Canadian economy will remain relatively strong, with no recession, through Games time.”

Hey, times were still good and the party would last beyond 2010, right?

That was just before the summer when the sub-prime mortgage meltdown began to spread across the U.S. The credit crunch was starting. The winds of recession fluttered faintly, but they fluttered. By September 2008 it was a full-force storm. Founding chairman Jack Poole — who was born in the Great Depression and experienced bankruptcy first-hand in the 1980s recession — said it best when he called the economic climate “scary.”

GM Takes Bad Turn

Everyone in the media knows that recessions are not kind when advertising is the primary source of revenue. The Olympics are the biggest marketing event in sports — and advertising is what fuels an organizing committee operations budget. The five rings aren’t sacred when it comes to pragmatic executives and shareholders. Advertising budgets are always the first to be cut when a recession hits.

VANOC postponed, with just two days’ public notice, the closed-door Nov. 19 board meeting. That week’s world press briefing was the excuse. The delay until the first week of December offered executives and directors a chance to buy time to figure out what the heck was going on.

Rookie Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson began the year with a bang, proclaiming Vancouver taxpayers were “on the hook” for the entire cost of the $1.1 billion Olympic Village. An emergency sitting of the legislature granted Vancouver borrowing powers and a TD Canada Trust-led syndicate helped the city out-buy Wall Street’s Fortress Credit Corporation.

Fortress’ parent, Fortress Investment Group, is the owner of the debt-laden Intrawest, whose jewel is Whistler Blackcomb. If Intrawest can’t refinance the $524 million it owes, the site of sledding sports and alpine skiing may be operating under receivership by the time the Games begin.

Sponsors Nortel in January and then General Motors in June sought bankruptcy protection on both sides of the border. While most Nortel equipment was either ordered or installed, GM’s brief drive through bankruptcy was a white-knuckle experience.

The Pontiacs and Saturns in the VANOC fleet disappeared when those brands were canceled by the automaker. The slimming down was part of the massive $57.6 billion infusion (in U.S. funds) from the Obama administration and $9.5 billion from Ontario and the feds. Indirect government help kept VANOC from going to Hertz or Avis.

March Madness

When the history of the Vancouver Games is written, the last week of March 2009 will be key. London 2012 CEO Sebastian Coe and Sochi 2014 CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko both traveled halfway around the world to Denver for the SportAccord convention where the IOC executive board was holding its only North American meeting of 2009. VANOC CEO John Furlong didn’t make the short trip to the Mile High City — instead opting to update the IOC via teleconference on March 26.

That’s also the date that chief financial officer John McLaughlin sent a letter to Philip Steenkamp, head of the B.C. Winter Games Secretariat, seeking more money for ceremonies and torch relay. The amount was redacted, for fear of compromising business interests.

The provincial government quietly spent another $8 million to rent the fourth floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery for a B.C. Pavilion that wasn’t previously planned. It also assumed Paralympic spending. Meanwhile, massive cuts to community arts and sports spending happened before the throne speech declared “the cupboard is bare” with a $2.8 billion deficit budget.

Ottawa also went on a $37 million spree over two weeks in September, including $11 million for Own the Podium, a $10 million Canada pavilion, $7.7 million for bilingualism, $6.2 million for tourism and trade promotion and $400,000 on the Cultural Olympiad.

The year ended on a low note with General Electric (GE) CEO Jeff Immelt telling investment analysts that the Olympics would be a bust. NBC made $70 million on Salt Lake 2002. Vancouver 2010, just 50 km from the Excited States, in a Pacific time zone, will cause the same broadcaster to report a $200 million loss.

Governments, Get Out Your Bailing Buckets

Canada’s rights holder, the CTV/Rogers consortium, has a goal to merely break even. And that includes revenue from t-shirts and tickets to high definition screenings in movie theatres.

Ottawa and Victoria to the rescue — expect to see tourism promotion ads on American and Canadian Games telecasts, effectively propping up the broadcasters who expected to sell more ads at higher prices.

Enjoy the Bailout Games. You’re paying for them.


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Written by Bob Mackin

Op Ed is a weekly column of opinion and ideas from Around the Rings. Comments, as well as guest columns are welcomed: comment@aroundtherings.com

For general comments or questions, click here

Your best source of news about the Olympics is http://www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.

(Copyright 1992 2008, all rights reserved. The information in this report may not be published, excerpted, or otherwise distributed in print or broadcast without the express prior consent of Around the Rings.)

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