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Monday, October 30, 2006

More on the IOC decision 

How is the International Olympic Committee's decision to hold the swimming finals in the morning (in an apparent sop to NBC) affecting the athletes?

From Al Jazeera:

The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to hold swimming finals in the morning at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games to suit US television schedules is unlikely to change Swimming Australia's Olympic trials schedule.

US television rights holder NBC had been lobbying heavily for early finals in Beijing to coincide with prime-time viewing hours in the United States, with many observers feeling the IOC caved to the broadcaster rather than taking athletes' preferences in to consideration.

Alan Thompson, Australian head coach, had anticipated the IOC's decision, but his swimmers are unlikely to have a practice run at the upside-down schedule at their national trials, which normally aim to simulate the Olympic program, reports said.

Glenn Tasker, Swimming Australia chief executive, said he expected opposition from coaches, but could not see how the trials could be run successfully with main events held in non-peak viewing times.

"We have only discussed this informally, but internally our discussions have been, 'If we turn our trials upside down, we will struggle to make them commercially viable'," Tasker told The Melbourne Age on Saturday.

"We swim our trials at the Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre, which is still the best pool in the world, but when you go to the best pool in the world, you pay a fairly steep price for it.

"If we swam finals at 10 o'clock in the morning, our athletes would be swimming in front of next to no one. There would be no atmosphere, we wouldn't get a gate, so commercially it would hurt us.

"It would hurt the athletes from having no atmosphere. So without finalising our discussions, I would be very loath to change our trials," Tasker added.

Of course, we have to ask - do the Australian officials care about the "atmosphere," or about the gate receipts?

Swim News reports a slightly different story:

Many of the world's top swimmers will rise as early as 4am, train hardest at dawn not dusk, eat three breakfasts a day, skip lunch, have dinner at noon, sleep in recovery suits and spend much of their time in the China time zone in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics following the International Olympic Committee's decision to switch finals from their traditional evening slot to mornings in the pool in 2008.

Bill Sweetenham, performance director of Britain, assembled a think-tank of coaches, swimmers, sports scientists and support staff at Loughborough, England, on Friday for three days of talks aimed at planning a response to an IOC decision that has incensed the world swimming community.

The outcome of the talks and expert advice from specialists in sleep and diet is likely to be a radical overhaul of training, eating and sleeping regimes, while the domestic race calendar will be turned on its head, with finals held in the morning at "five or six" events, including the national championships, BBC allowing....

[T]he USA has already announced that it is sticking to evening finals for its Olympic trials.

And before one accuses the IOC of being money-grubbing evil people, remember how high minded they are:

The IOC has often declined higher offers for broadcast on a pay-per-view basis or because a broadcaster could reach only a limited part of the population, as this is against Olympic Broadcast Policy. This fundamental IOC Policy, set forth in the Olympic Charter, ensures the maximum presentation of the Olympic Games by broadcasters around the world to everyone who has access to television. Rights are only sold to broadcasters who can guarantee the broadest coverage throughout their respective countries free of charge.

Of course, these free of charge broadcasters can then choose what they want to broadcast. Any attempt by the IOC to demand that international Olympic coverage be - well, international - would immediately be met with replies of censorship.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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