Tuesday, November 6, 2001
Salt Lake will go on
By ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun
Canadian IOC member Dick Pound doesn't think 2002 Winter Olympics will be a terrorist target
Canada's representative on the International Olympic Committee says he is not concerned the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics will be a terrorist target.
In sharp contrast to suggestions from a Norweigan IOC official, who recently apologized after questioning whether the games should proceed in 94 days, Dick Pound is confident proper safeguards will be in place to deter terrorist activity and protect athletes and spectators alike.
"I don't think it will be a target because it's probably going to be one of the most secure places on Earth," said the Montreal lawyer, who will be in town tomorrow night to speak at the Better Business Bureau's fourth annual Ethics Awards.
"When you think of where we've held the games in the past -- Korea, Barcelona and places like that -- we've had 30 years of experience with this stuff in the Olympics so it's not absolutely brand new. You've got to be careful but there's nothing in this case that would make you think of cancelling the games."
Both IOC president Jacques Rogge and Salt Lake organizing chief Mitt Romney have both repeatedly insisted the games will go as planned, pointing to a security budget recently augmented to $240 million US. Precautions will include extra airspace security, tighter screening and a ban on taking bags into arenas. Ticket sales are on track, NBC has sold 90% of its commercial air time and none of the athletes has suggested they aren't willing to attend the games.
Unlike the bloody history of the summer games, the Winter Olympics have never been disrupted by terrorist attacks. Pound is confident it will stay that way.
Losing to Rogge in the recent IOC presidential vote, Pound immediately resigned as president of the World Anti-Doping Association and chief marketer. Asked immediately to return to WADA by Rogge, Pound accepted and has also expressed interest in returning to his marketing post in which he was credited for rescuing the IOC from bankruptcy 16 years ago by raising close to $8 billion in revenue, mostly through TV rights negotiations. That decision will be announced at month's end. For now, Pound is focusing on the February games and suggests one of the biggest threats facing the Olympics still stems from the ongoing fight against performance-enhancing drugs that has tarnished amateur athletics for decades.
"I think we now have everything we need in place to make major strides against doping and I think we've made a lot of progress for the first time," said Pound, an Olympic swimmer in 1960 who spearheaded a much-needed show of IOC reform by heading up the committee that sanctioned 10 members for improprieties involving the Salt Lake City bid.
"Up to now, we've concentrated on the athletes who cheat and tried to throw them out. It's sort of like the old seatbelt thing -- eventually it wasn't the fines for not wearing the seatbelt that got people to put them on, it was the realization it was really stupid not to.
"We've got to build up in the next generation of athletes, coaches, parents and team doctors that it's not only unhealthy, it's unethical to do drugs, so don't start.
"There may be some out there who will stop because they're afraid of getting caught but that's only partial success."
One of WADA's initiatives has been to target athletes with unannounced, out of competition testing. Previously, international federations had rules that -- if they allowed out of competition testing at all -- they had to be strictly random or come with advance notice.
"That's really kind of goofy," said Pound.
"We've now entered into protocols that say we can test on (a federation's) behalf without notice. The ones at the highest risk of doping are the ones that are probably in the top 100 in the world. If you can find them and test them without notice, and at any time, that's where you get your real assurance."
Assurance, now that's something the world -- not just the Olympics -- could use right about now.
2002 Games Columnists