Terror Threat Prompts IOC to Hike Reserves
%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ The threat of terrorism prompted the IOC to increase its financial reserves and consider taking out insurance to cover the risk of disruption or cancellation of an Olympics.
Opening a two-day general assembly Thursday, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said the organization had reserves of $140 million and needed an extra $52 million in case the games are called off or are ``badly organized.″
``International terrorism poses a certain risk to sports organizations,″ Rogge said. ``Armed conflicts and the prolonged economic crisis may also have effects on the quality and staging of the games.
``The establishment of this financial reserve would allow the IOC to take the impact of badly or not-organized games.″
The IOC also is studying the possibility of taking out insurance, but Rogge acknowledged it’s difficult.
``The international political situation and the danger of terrorism means the insurance market is reticent against taking this kind of risks,″ he said. ``But we will continue our efforts in this area.″
The IOC did not have insurance coverage for February’s Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which became particularly relevant after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Had the Salt Lake Games been canceled, the IOC would not have been covered for the loss of its multimillion-dollar TV contracts.
Security has been a top priority for the Olympics since the 1972 Munich Games, where Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.
The next Olympics are in 2004 in Athens, where organizers have a $600 million security budget.
On another issue, Rogge said the IOC had decided to begin preliminary negotiations with U.S. broadcasters on TV rights for the games of 2010 and beyond. NBC has the rights through the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Rogge didn’t specify the time frame, but previously has indicated the talks could begin in early 2003.
Also Thursday, IOC delegates were to review the package of reforms enacted in 1999 following the Salt Lake City bid scandal. Ten IOC members resigned or were expelled for accepting cash or other inducements.
The most contested reform was the ban on member’s visits to bidding cities. Some members feel insulted and penalized by the rule and might want to reinstate the visits.
``There is nothing suspicious about the visits if they are properly conducted, but we don’t need them,″ Rogge said in an interview Wednesday. ``They cost too much and are not useful.″
On Friday, the members will vote on whether to drop baseball, softball and modern pentathlon from the Beijing Games.
Leaders of the three federations will have 10 minutes each to argue why they should not become the first sports eliminated from the Summer Olympics since polo in 1936.
A majority vote of the 118 members present is required to remove a sport. The members will vote by secret ballot, one sport at a time.
The IOC program commission recommended in August that the three sports be dropped, and golf and rugby be added.
But interviews with a wide section of IOC members indicate there is no significant support for changing the program. Many believe that the process was flawed and hurried and that aspiring athletes would be penalized if sports were removed for 2008.
``If the session will say there is no change needed, then at least we will have the reassurance that the program we have is the best one for the moment,″ Rogge said.