Monday, April 13, 2009

Sex, lies and videotapes


An Idea for Baseball, Softball
This week brought the submissions to the IOC by the seven sports hoping to join the program for the 2016 Olympics. The IOC is to decide in October if any of the seven is worthy.
Golf, karate, roller sports, rugby and squash are on the list for a second time. The IOC rejected all of them for the 2012 Olympics in a vote cast in 2005.
Baseball and softball are also on the list. That same IOC vote cut them from the Games after Beijing.
With room for just two more sports to be added for 2016, the odds seem long for any of the seven. But we have an idea on how to improve chances for the two bat and ball sports: combine as one for the purpose of the Olympics.
Two separate federations govern the sports, each with rules and venue peculiarities that require separate attention. We’re not suggesting they merge, but simply find a way to make an accommodation for the Games that would enable the two sports to be considered as one, with a men’s discipline and a women’s discipline.
In a time when costs and practicality are essential for Olympic organizers, a plan to roll two sports into one would seem to make sense. And that kind of partnership would also make room for one of the other five contenders, all of which are likely deserving in one way or another of entering the Olympic program.

Digital Phobia for Olympic Bids
Just as the IOC hurtles towards the digital era, the rules for the cities bidding for the Games seem to be stuck in the quaint antiquity of the age of paper, given a recent advisory to the four cities running for 2016.
A letter from the IOC Ethics Commission sent in January to Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo decrees that all communications sent by post to IOC members must be on paper.
The letter was prompted by a digital picture frame sent to IOC members late last year by the Chicago bid. The frame was loaded with pictures of the city. Someone complained to the Ethics Commission that such a presentation was against the rules, prompting the advisory.
One bid team member has suggested to Around the Rings that the frame itself, which came with instructions on how to load personal photos onto the device, maybe should be considered in the same category as the refrigerators, scholarships and other emoluments once supplied routinely to IOC members by bid cities.
IOC members we have talked to say it’s off base to make such a link or to think that their vote would be decided by receipt of a $50 electronic trinket. But one member who says he has not received a frame still cautions that the Chicago bid should be watching the rules.
The rules, on the other hand, may need a review, if indeed the IOC believes that the only proper way bid cities can communicate by post with members is by paper. Some cynics might point out the paper-only rule aids the deforestation of the planet.
But in the digital era of Internet, e-mail, CD-ROMs, flash drives and picture frames, the rules for bid cities maybe should reflect this new way of communicating. One foot in the past, another in the future: the IOC can’t have it both ways as it seeks relevancy in the 21st century.

The Return of Y.S. Park
The Korean Olympic Committee has a new president who needs no introduction to the Olympic family. Ex-IOC member and former president of the International Judo Federation, Y.S. Park was chosen on the first ballot this week from a field of eight candidates.
There was plenty of mudslinging in advance of the election, as rivals said Park’s conviction on corporate corruption charges and his subsequent suspension by the IOC made him unsuitable to lead the KOC. But Park has served his sentence from a Korean court and won amnesty for his crime from the government, which also led to the return of his full membership in the IOC. He stepped off the IOC in 2007 when he left the IJF presidency.
Without a great deal of knowledge of Park’s opponents for the KOC post, we can only say that as the only candidate well-known (for better or worse) outside Korea, Park may be the best choice to move the KOC forward.
The NOC has been dogged by instability and weak leadership since 2003 when Un Yong Kim was dethroned in a scandal involving use of KOC money as well as funds from the World Taekwondo Federation. Kim, also one of the most influential members of the IOC at the time, was suspended and eventually resigned from the IOC.
Park knows the players in the Olympic Movement outside Korea and could chart a steady course for the KOC, which is one of the world’s most important national Olympic committees. His leadership comes at a time when decisions will have to be made about whether to bid again for the Winter Olympics from PyeongChang or whether to launch a campaign for the Summer Games in Busan.
Korea probably can’t have both. That fact of life will likely leave bad feelings for the losing side, and could put Park in the firing line. And given the nature of Korean sport politics, we suspect that plots to de-stabilize Park may already be in the works.
From our observation post, Koreans have been their own worst enemy in past campaigns for the Games with intrigue and disloyalty among sports and bid leaders dragging down their efforts.
Perhaps more important than choosing between summer and winter bids, the biggest task for Y.S. Park could be what he does to replace envy and retribution with peace and harmony in the house of Korean sport.

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