on his book INSIDE THE OLYMPICS
Question 1. You have had a long association with the Olympics, first as a competitor, then for 25 years as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), then on the IOC Executive Board and twice as IOC Vice President, your new book uses this background to take a look at some of the major issues facing the IOC – judging, doping, politics and terror, human rights, corporate sponsorship, managing TV rights, selecting hosts, etc. The list of challenges is quite long and your book gives a detailed insight to most of them. Despite this, you are still optimistic about the Olympics and its potential for good. Why?
Answer: I remain very optimistic about the future. Identifying some of the problems and the manner in which they have been dealt with to date is, in my view, one of the best ways to move forward in a positive fashion. It is as important to identify what we have not done so well as to observe what we have done very well.
Question 2. The selection of
for the 2004 games was not universal –the vote you note was 66-41. You also note that you did not vote for Athens but preferred its competitor – Athens . Still, you seem to be hopeful that Rome will rise to the challenge and hopeful that Athens may lead to a renewal in Olympic spirit. You also note in the book “The Greeks have taken on a huge challenge, arguably too big for their capacity, but they are nevertheless going to do everything they can to pull it off.” Has you view of how well the Greek government will host the 2004 Olympics changed since the publishing of the book and what do you see as the major unmet challenges that still may prove embarrassments to all? Athens
Question 3. You are quite critical of problems in
the judging system used in international athletics and cite the
examples of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games in the pairs
figure skating event among others. Over the last two years, there
has been much discussion of this issue and one would hope
How confident are you and if so, why or why not, that the judging we
will actually see in the 2004
Answer: This is one of the problems that will only be solved by exposing it as a problem and drawing attention to it. It arose because no one was willing to stand up and say that the judging was incompetent or corrupt. I think that judges will be more aware now that they, too, will be judged and I hope this will produce better performances from the officials.
Answer: The Olympics themselves have always been leaders, but suffered from the fact that the Games only happen once each four years. All of the rest of the time, it is the international federations (with their national federations) and national Olympic committees who control the athletes. I think the IOC should have been more rigorous sooner in insisting that, as a condition of Olympic participation, sports should have had to implement more rigorous anti-doping programs. We need more and better research, more extensive education (for athletes, coaches, parents, officials and governments) for a greater understanding of the ethical and health issues and comprehensive unannounced out-of-competition testing programs.
problem in the world today in
the post-9/11 era is that no place on earth can be declared absolutely
from terrorism. There are, of course,
certain specific geographical factors that affect
Question 7. Y
You were Chairman of the IOC Television Negotiation Committee (1983-2001), and Chairman of the IOC Marketing Committee until 2001, historically the IOC had an anti-commercial bias. This has changed and sponsors and long term negotiation of broadcast partnerships are now firmly a part of the IOC’s business model. You played a significant role in this change in focus over the years. Are you satisfied that the IOC has gotten the balance between a need for financial stability and the competing danger of over exposure or over commercialization correct and if so why?
Answer: Yes. It has always been part of our approach to marketing that the Olympics are special. They are the only international sports event that does not allow commercial advertising in the stadium or on the athletes. Sponsors have come to respect that philosophy. Their support along with broadcast rights have made it possible to completely change the economic model for financing the Games and have added significant amounts to the international sports system, allowing IFs and NOCs to provide better support for sports development and athletes. I do not believe that there is over-commercialization of the Games.
most significant features have
been the adoption of a specific code of conduct for IOC members and the
establishment of an Ethics Commission on which a majority of the
not IOC members. These are both examples
of best practices on an international scale. The
matter of visits, etc. to candidate cities
is one essentially of detail. I think
the process will prevent anything on the scale of
should say from the outset that
I have great confidence in
Question 10. Juan Antonio Samaranch was one of the IOC’s longer serving and also controversial IOC President’s. In your chapter, “Passing the Torch: Samaranch” you review the four IOC President’s you worked with. What would you say were President Samaranch’s three biggest successes and what would you also list as his three biggest failures?
His three biggest successes were unification of the Olympic Movement, making it universal (202 countries) and making it financially independent. His three biggest failures were (to some extent arising out of the successes) to let some people into the IOC who did not meet the standards that should apply to the members of the IOC, not being more aggressive in fighting against drugs in sport and staying too long.
Question 11. W
What role can the Olympic movement play for today and tomorrow’s youth and how optimistic are you that the Olympics will continue to play a leading role in sports in the coming century?
Answer: I think the Olympic Movement, with its combination of sport, education and culture, has the potential to do more for the youth of the world and their society that any other single force I can imagine. The calculus is quite simple and can be translated into everything one does: self-respect, respect for others, self-discipline, setting and achieving goals and Fair Play. If society were to be filled with citizens operating on those principles, I would be very satisfied
About the Author: Richard W. Pound has been a member of the International Olympic Committee (OIC) for over 25 years. He has served on the IOC Executive Board, and in 1987 was elected vice-president for a four-year term and served a second term from 1996 to 2000. During the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, he was acting president, and in 2001 ran unsuccessfully in the election to replace Juan Anotinio Samaranch as the eighth president of the IOC.
Pound is the founding chair of the World Anit-Doping Agency, which was established in 1999. He was also Chairman of the IOC Television Negotiation Committee (1983-2001), and Chairman of the IOC marketing Committee until 2001. Pound served as the Chair of the Coordination Commission for the 1996 Olympic Games, and as a director of the Organizing Committee for the 1998 Olympic winter Games in Calgary, Alberta. It was partly because of Pound's investigation of the recent Salt Lake City bribery scandal that new regulations and an ethics watchdog to oversee interaction between IOC members and bidding cities were created. He is a past president, director, and executive committee member of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Born in Canada in 1942, Pound began his athletic career as a competitive swimmer. At the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, he was a double Olympic finalist, finishing fourth in the 400 meter medley relay and sixes in the 100 meter freestyle. he went on to win four medals - a gold, a bronze, and two silvers - at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Pound was educated in Montreal, receiving degrees in commerce and law from McGill. He is currently a partner in the law firm Stikeman Elliott. In 1999, he was made the seventeenth chancellor of McGill University.
About the Interviewer: Christopher W. Runckel, a former senior US diplomat who served in many counties in Asia, is a graduate of the University of Oregon and Lewis and Clark Law School. He served as Deputy General Counsel of President Gerald Ford’s Presidential Clemency Board. Mr. Runckel is the principal and founder of Runckel & Associates, a Portland, Oregon based consulting company that assists businesses expand business opportunities in Asia.
Until April of 1999, Mr. Runckel was Minister-Counselor of the US Embassy in Beijing, China. Mr. Runckel lived and worked in Thailand for over six years. He was the first permanently assigned U.S. diplomat to return to Vietnam after the Vietnam War. In 1997, he was awarded the U.S. Department of States highest award for service, the Distinguished Honor Award, for his contribution to improving U.S.-Vietnam relations. Mr. Runckel is one of only two non-Ambassadors to receive this award in the 200-year history of the U.S. diplomatic service.
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