The Olympics

The Olympics


News, information and stories about the Olympics.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Italy To Relax Drug Laws

Good news for all of those Olympic athletes, who need a little chemical stimulus to help them achieve their peak performance, it seems that the Italian government will relax their drug laws for the duration of the Winter Olympics in Turin.

This decision has been greeted with much relief by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), as they had visions of their prized athletes being arrested and jailed for drugs offences.

Jailed athletes are not very good for the Olympic brand, or for the lucrative sponsorship deals that the IOC lives off.

The IOC rules allow athletes to be disqualified for doping offences, but not arrested. The Italian law, unamended, was far stricter; doped athletes would have faced prison sentences of up to 3 years.

Additionally, the Italian health ministry earlier this month had given its anti-doping commission full responsibility for dope testing at all international competitions in Italy.

That would have meant that a body that would not be swayed by the IOC or Italian government would have been in charge of testing; something that the IOC could never have tolerated.

Mario Pescante, Italy's under-secretary for sport and supervisor for the Winter Olympics, said that a deal had been made with the IOC over doping.


"We've reached an agreement, which has been approved by the president of the IOC. Italian law will be respected with regards to penal sanctions, but at the same time we will be guided by Wada's list of banned substances."

The agreement includes the setting up of a task force to ensure a good compromise between Italian law and IOC rules. The task force will include IOC members, Wada officials and representatives of games organiser Toroc.

So there you have it, Italian law has been compromised; because Olympic athletes, and their sponsorship contracts, are above the law!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Competitors' Blogs Banned

Those Olympic competitors who are hoping to update their fans with an inside view of the Winter Olympics in Turin, will be disappointed and frustrated.

The International Olympic Committee are banning all competitors' blogs during the course of the games.

The Olympic Charter bans athletes' journalist activities when the games are on, and violators will be disqualified. It seems that personal blogs are counted as "journalistic activities".

Friday, January 27, 2006

Snow Joke

It seems that there may be another fly in the ointment of the forthcoming Winter Olympics, being held in Turin in the next fortnight, in addition to the worries over low ticket sales and strike action at airports.

There is a distinct lack of snow.

It has not snowed since late December in Sestriere, the venue for the skiing events, and despite extensive use of snowmaking machines, the International Ski Federation remains concerned.

The start point of the men's downhill race could be lowered by 10m as a result.

Given the fact that large parts of Europe are currently in the grip of the worst winter freeze since the 1940's, this is something of a blow.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Price of Sponsorship

Those of you wishing to be in the top 10 sponsors of the 2012 London Olympics, will have to dig deep into your pockets.

The price tag for a top ten spot is a minimum of £50M per head.

Who ever said that the Olympics was just about sport?

Games organisers are hoping to sign up 10 high roller sponsors, by March, covering four sectors; automotive, banking, telecommunications and utilities.

It is hoped that UK commercial sponsorship will cover approximately 35% of organising committee's financial needs, estimated to be around £2BN.

The remaining requirements are to be covered by International Olympic Committee broadcasting and sponsorship revenues, ticket sales, merchandising and other commercial activities.

Sir Digby Jones, director-general of the CBI, took a side swipe at the EU and has asked the games organisers to buy British-made goods.


"I want every single medal that is hung around the necks of the world's athletes to be made in Britain. I want Britain to treat European Union procurement rules in the way that France would."

The "good old boys" in the unions needless to say rules out a no strike agreement. Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trade Union Congress, said:

"I don't think talking about a no-strike agreement is the right approach."

All rather akin to watching pigs, with their snouts in a trough!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Olympics Strike

In the true spirit of the Olympics, ie making money, the ground staff at Turin airport have shown that they are more than willing to enter into the spirit of things.

They have just started a wildcat strike, breaking an Olympic games truce with local unions less than three weeks before the Winter Games.

The labour stoppage is forcing flights to land at other Italian airports, and leaving travellers stranded after their flights did not depart.

Turin airport spokesman, Roberto Bergandi, said workers were protesting about plans to fire 11 ground staff.

A local truce covering the airport began 10 days ago, while a nationwide truce is due to begin on January 31.

Meanwhile, an official from a union for workers involved in an unrelated labour dispute with Alitalia raised the possibility that if that airline's employees remain dissatisfied with efforts to resolve their complaints they could violate the nationwide Olympics truce with strikes.

There's the true "Olympic spirit"!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

London Hogs The Limelight

The British government has just woken up to the fact that, unless it acts now, the money it is pumping into the London 2012 Olympics will be gobbled up by London based firms and foreign owned companies.

Tessa Jowell, the Olympics minister and culture secretary, is now trying to bring other UK businesses onboard. She is trying to stimulate them to bid for the £3.3BN state spending on the event.

The government panic is as a result of a report issued by PwC, last month, that said that the games could leave the regions about £2.8BN worse off than if another country had staged the event.

On what do they base this rather dubious conclusion I wonder?

Ms Jowell, ever mindful of the ongoing moans form the regions that London gets all the money, said that the government would be "proactive and aggressive" in encouraging regional involvement.


"We are absolutely determined to see the benefits diffused around the country."

It seems to me that if the businesses outside of the capital do not have the nounce or the drive to do this for themselves, then they are probably not up to the job of providing goods and services for the Olympics.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Turin Organising Committee Spooked

The Turin Organising Committee is so worried about the low turnout of punters prepared to buy tickets to the forthcoming Winter Olympics, that it has commissioned a national television and advertising campaign called "Being There Is Different."

Turin's organising committee, which sells tickets within the European Union, has sold less than 60% of its 1 million tickets and has availability left for every event.

Friday, January 20, 2006

One Third of Winter Olympic Tickets Remain Unsold

Over 370,000 tickets remain unsold for the Turin Winter Olympics, which begin on February 10th.

That represents over one third of the available tickets.

The Turin organising committee are putting a brave face on it by claiming that, in Italy, everything is done "at the last minute".

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Turn or Torino?

It seems that there is some confusion in the media as to precisely where the forthcoming Winter Olympics are being held.

Is it Turin, or Torino?

Turin is the English translation of the Italian word Torino. Therefore, if the English speaking media are to follow standard practice, the word should be Turin.

Someone needs to tell the guys at NBC Sports that it is the shroud of Turin, not the shroud of Torino!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

IT Boom Time

Wherever the Olympic juggernaut trundles, in its wake it leaves a pile of cash for those with the business nounce to feed off.

Britain, which hosts the Olympics in 2012, is expecting a large payoff to its IT industry.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) has a projected budget of £204M for information systems, £63M for telecommunications and £12.5M for internet applications.

The London 'bid book' for the Olympics notes that the IT sector will account for £7.2BN of the £9.9BN of capital investment.

Needless to say, much of this will be spent on security which the British government loves.

It is expected that there will be a big expansion in the number of CCTV cameras in the city, and a move from analogue to digital technology facilitating more automatic analysis of people's behaviour.

I am sure that the government will enjoy putting all of these new "toys" to "good" use after the games!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Greek Lessons

Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has promised to provide assistance in every possible way to the Chinese, in order to make 2008 Beijing Olympic Games successful.


"I would like to assure you that Greece will assist in every possible way the effort of the Chinese government so that the Games of Beijing will be outstanding in all aspects, and a true reflection of the long history and rich culture of China, as well as its current status as a world political and economic power."


"Greece is ready to offer her expertise and know-how whenever this is asked for."

Two Chinese Olympic delegations have already visited Greece, and the Alternate Minister for Culture and Athletics, Ms Petralia, has already visited China twice.

There are some very clear lessons that the Chinese can learn from the Athens Games, namely; cost control, effective planning and budgeting.

None of these were in evidence at the Athens Games, the result being a crippling price tag to the hapless Greek taxpayer of 13BN Euros and a variety of white elephants that no one wishes to use.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Alitalia Threaten Strike

In the true spirit of the Olympics, ie putting money first, Alitalia SpA pilots and flight attendants plan to strike on the eve and the first day of next month's Winter Olympics in Turin.

Needless to say this will cause havoc for arriving fans.

Cabin crews are set to strike for 24 hours on February 10th, the day of the opening ceremony, and pilots are scheduled to stage a four-hour protest the previous day.

The Turin organising committee spokesman, Giuseppe Gattino, said that the situation is being "monitored".

The strike is going ahead, despite the fact that local Turin unions signed an "Olympic Truce" in November. However, an agreement to suspend protests on a national level is still being discussed.

The 24-hour strike by flight attendants was originally scheduled for November 28, but was postponed due to the proximity of another strike.

According to Mauro Rossi, an official with transport union FILT-CGIL:

"It's a dispute that has been going on for a long time, and to postpone the strike we would need something really concrete from Alitalia."

He added that the date wasn't timed to coincide with the Olympics, but was the result of the postponement. Allegedly it would be difficult to postpone the strike again because the Easter holidays begin shortly after the games, and strikes are banned during that period.

Believe that, and you will believe anything!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Poor Ticket Sales For Turin

With only one month to go until the start of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, only half of the one million tickets have been sold.

In theory, organisers hope to eventually sell around 850K tickets. However, expectations of a boost after the Olympic torch began its two-month tour the length and breadth of Italy in early December have not been realised.

The main problem is that there has been little or no publicity in Italy for the Games.

Italy-wide advertising has suffered from cuts in marketing expenses during a series of cash crises over the past year.