Rogge: Economic Crisis Hasn't Hit Oly Movement
From the Associated Press:
IOC president Jacques Rogge foresees no immediate threat to the Olympics from the global financial crisis and says the fight against doping will be a key priority for a second term in office.
Rogge, a 66-year-old Belgian who has led the International Olympic Committee since 2001, notified members last Friday that he will seek re-election next October for a final four-year term that will take him to 2013.
He spoke in a telephone interview with The Associated Press ahead of a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday where he publicly announced his candidacy for another term at the helm of the IOC.
No challengers are expected and Rogge's re-election is considered a formality at the October 2009 assembly in Copenhagen, Denmark.
"Had the Beijing Games been a total failure, I would not have considered running," he said. "The games were a great success. So were the others under my watch in Salt Lake City, Athens and Turin. My motivation is to continue on the path I have followed."
Rogge's next term would take him through the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, 2012 Summer Olympics in London and 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The IOC is watching closely but has no major concerns at this point about the impact of the global credit crunch and economic slowdown, he said.
"It is a real crisis in the world, but it is too soon to make an assessment for the Olympic world," Rogge said.
However, he said the tough financial times could squeeze out potential Olympic spectators and ticket buyers.
"What will be the effect on people going to the venues, I cannot tell you today," he said in Brussels. "Things are changing so fast. But definitely there is a possibility that because of a loss of buying power there will be fewer people at the venues.
"It would be naive and shortsighted to say that nothing will happen. Yes, the situation is so volatile that it is too soon to draw conclusions."
He said the IOC's own finances and reserves were strong, with television contracts and most sponsorship deals locked up through 2012.
Negotiations on U.S. television rights for the 2014 and 2016 games could be put off until after next October's vote on the 2016 host city. The candidates are Chicago; Madrid, Spain; Tokyo; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"We are no in hurry for that," Rogge said. "We have plenty of time."
The financial situation for the 2010 Winter Games "seems very sound," he said.
London organizers, meanwhile, have had to use contingency funds as they struggle to secure private financing for the $1.6 billion Olympic village, where the apartments are to be sold afterward.
"That money could be offset by further private funding," Rogge said. "If not, of course the government will get it back when the village is being sold."
He said the IOC has received assurances from London organizing chief Sebastian Coe that the local committee has "good control over their budget."
Russia, which is dealing with the financial pinch and a drop in oil prices, recently appointed a deputy prime minister to oversee preparations in Sochi, where virtually all venues are to be built from scratch.
"Things are moving in the right direction," Rogge told the AP. "There are technical challenges and construction challenges, but not a major funding issue today. It's a priority project for the Russian federation and (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin, and we are confident the funding will be there."
Rogge has pursued a hard-line policy against doping during his tenure, and promises to increase the fight during his next term.
"We have to continue. We have to step up," he said. "The IOC has done a lot under my watch. We have to continue on the same path. Doping is still the major threat for sport."
The IOC carried out about 5,000 doping tests in Beijing, twice the number conducted in Sydney eight years ago. Athletes who receive doping suspensions of six months or more are now ineligible for the next Olympics.
The IOC is also storing doping samples for eight years, so they can be retested once new detection methods become available.
"There is a message," Rogge said. "Those who have cheated at the games can be caught eight years after."
The IOC recently decided to retest blood samples from the Beijing Games to look for traces of CERA, a new version of the endurance-enhancing hormone EPO. The decision came after a French lab retested samples from the Tour de France that exposed four riders for CERA use.
Rogge said the IOC is working with the World Anti-Doping Agency to decide which athletes and samples from Beijing should be retested based on suspicion and intelligence.
"We want to target which athletes we are going to retest," he said, adding the entire process could take several weeks. "It makes no sense to retest everyone and everything."
Rogge said the testing will target athletes who posted "unusually good performances" or have not been seen and tested regularly outside of the Olympics.
Another priority for Rogge's second term is combatting youth obesity and encouraging young people to participate in sports. This coincides with his pet project, the Youth Olympics, whose first summer edition for athletes aged 14-18 will be in Singapore in 2010. The first Winter Youth Olympics will be in 2012.
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