IOC Delegate Dick Pound Asks: Where’s Obama?
By Evan Weiner
September 17, 2009
11:30 AM EDT
(New York, N. Y.) – In the real world, Dick Pound would be largely dismissed as someone who just opens his mouth and comes up with astonishing statements without facts to back them up. Pound should know better since he is a lawyer but Pound does not live in the real world. You see Pound, a Montreal barrister and jock sniffer, is an International Olympic Committee delegate from Canada and a member of a select group that doesn’t want to abide to the tenets of civilization, laws of countries or care about the financial ruin they leave behind after the International Olympic Committee’s two week sports bazaar is concluded.
Pound is now suggesting that United States President Barack Obama drop everything and get to Copenhagen, Denmark on October 2 and perhaps genuflect or possibly have IOC delegates drool all over him so that Chicago can secure the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The IOC will announce the winning bid that day.
Chicago is in a four-city race to secure the games. Tokyo, Japan, Madrid, Spain and Rio de Janeiro are also bidding for the right to host the 2016 games. Pound wants Barack Obama in Copenhagen, Michelle Obama won’t do.
“Olympic bids are so important these days to the countries that it would be surprising for a country not to send its biggest hitter. If the U. S. doesn’t match the others, that is something will be noticed,” Pound recently said.
Apparently these IOC delegates, whose predecessors could be bribed in exchange for a yes vote for a city that wanted the prestige of the Olympics, are more interested in star power. These IOC delegates can no longer visit bid cities because of the little problem with some bribery that took place in the selection of Salt Lake City as an Olympic venue in 2002. So now it is more Entertainment Tonight or E! than fact finding (or money grabbing) missions. It is widely thought that British Prime Minister Tony Blair put London’s bid for the 2012 Summer Games over the top when he genuflected before the ever powerful IOC delegation in 2005 when they picked the 2012 Olympics site.
United States President George W. Bush did not attend the 2005 IOC vote but New York didn’t live up to Olympic expectations and did not have a shiny, new, expensive, taxpayers supported main stadium on the drawing board so even if he did show up, New York wasn’t going to be the choice. The IOC wants everything new, everything state of the art, everything supported by taxpayers money. The IOC believes it is a global entity like no other and they snooker politicians, business leaders and media companies into believing them. The IOC also wants to feel love from local governments in terms of getting governments to create a slush fund to cover the cost of the financial losses as Olympic Organizing Committees generally underestimate the cost of hosting these affairs and someone, not the IOC, has to pick up the tab.
But IOC delegates may get an honest to goodness 24-karat American celebrity as Oprah Winfrey is threatening to go to Copenhagen. It is a good thing that the National Enquirer is available in Europe as Oprah partially owes her career to the constant drumbeat of publicity the Enquirer has offered her for well over two decades.
The big guns are supposed to be out in Copenhagen on October 2 when the IOC delegates vote on the 2016 Olympics venue. Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will be there championing the Rio bid, Spain’s King Juan Carlos will not miss this event either as he pushes for Madrid. Japan has a new government and the plans call for Crown Prince Naruhito to be in the Danish’s capital as Tokyo’s representative. The Japan Olympic Committee is hoping the new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will show up. Japan’s problem is that the former government may not have supported sports as a priority, which is not what Rogge and his band want to hear. France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, another political celebrity on the world stage partially because of his wife, singer Carla Bruni, is throwing his support behind Lula and Rio.
But where is President Obama?
Perhaps Barack Obama has better things to do than play around with the IOC. Let’s see, Obama will still be wrestling with bringing Americans a new health care system, there is still that pesky war in Iraq, and action in Afghanistan seems to be heating up. The Middle East remains the Middle East, North Korea is still high on the docket with possible talks there and Iran has signaled that it wants in on the talks action and there also is an 800-pound elephant in the room that is dragging down the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the 2012 London Summer Games. Something called the recession or maybe more appropriately the world wide economic abyss.
Pound should know something about that, his country is about to find out just how much debt future generations of Canadians are about to absorb with Vancouver’s games. Pound, the Montreal barrister, also knows that Montreal and Quebec and Canada finally paid off the 1976 Montreal Olympics debt in 2006.
But Pound should have no fear that Chicago might turn turtle about the idea of funding a money-losing venture. Pound knows what turning turtle means, in hockey parlance, it means someone in a fight goes into a defensive position and hopes the fight will go away. Pound knows a lot about hockey, he once said that about one-third of the NHL’s 700 or so players were using performance enhancing drugs.
He provided no evidence and according to NHL drug testing results, Pound was far, far off the mark as just a handful of players failed tests. No matter Pound continues to talk.
The Chicago city council has given the International Olympic Committee an open check to cover whatever cost overruns are incurred should the Illinois city get the 2016 Games. Apparently the Chicago elected officials were not swayed by the 2004 Athens debacle that lost billions upon billions of dollars or that a good number of the sites used in the 2000 Sydney Games are unused and that Australian officials are paying hundreds of millions of dollars to maintain facilities that sit empty.
Nor is the Chicago council upset that America’s past time, Baseball, is not an Olympic sport because the IOC in a fit of pique threw baseball out of the games because Major League Baseball would not sent the game’s biggest names to compete in a tournament that coincided with Major League Baseball’s regular season. The IOC got into a squabble with Major League Baseball and started to complain to the United States Congress that Major League Baseball’s drug testing policy wasn’t good enough for them.
That’s pretty funny considering the IOC President Jacques Rogge was begging Italian officials to let the IOC take care of any illegal drug problems during the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics because the use of banned performance enhancing drugs, while illegal, is really cheating. The IOC should hand out punishment, not law enforcement officials.
The Chicago city council apparently also overlooked the absence of another population American game, softball. The prevailing feeling is that IOC delegates cut softball in retaliation because Major League Baseball would not play by IOC rules and also that the American women were just too good for their own good. The American women did not bring home the gold in the 2008 Beijing Games so they is a world of softball players who can not show off their skills because a bunch of IOC delegates for whatever reason dropped softball from the Games. (Rogge will not mess with football, the global game not the American version, as the want for major stars to compete is not the same as it was for baseball. Football’s World Cup is bigger than the Olympics. The World Cup qualifier in 1969 sparked a war between Honduras and El Salvador)
Baseball and softball have been replaced by rugby (Rogge is a former rugby player) and golf. The possibility of Tiger Woods competing in the 2016 Games and bringing his money making machine to the Olympics was just too good to be true for Rogge and his gang.
The IOC is all about money and IOC delegates should be on their hands and knees kissing up to Obama not the other way around. In fact the delegates should be singing the Star Spangled Banner and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance because without American TV money, American corporate dollars and the American military, there would not be an Olympics on a grand scale. The IOC offices in Lausanne, Switzerland would not be as grand.
It was the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and Roone Arledge that created the financial stability for the International Olympic Committee. ABC’s money funded the Olympics, American corporations bought sponsorships and the US Military protected Greece in 2004 and will no doubt have a presence in Vancouver early next year.
Here is another reason why the IOC delegates should be saluting Obama, his predecessors, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. None of them tried to change the Cable TV Act of 1984, which was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. The IOC does not have a deal on the table with an American broadcasting partner for the 2014 Sochi (Russia) Winter Games or the 2016 Summer Games and is waiting for improving economic conditions before they sell off the rights.
Rupert Murdoch has said his American FOX TV operation will not bid for future Games because the Olympics lose money. It is unknown whether CBS will go after the Games but two American TV units will go after the Games, General Electric’s NBCUniversal unit and the Walt Disney Company’s ESPN. The ESPN did is intriguing because it depends on what is American cable TV socialism.
Americans don’t get this notion but there is a government sanctioned cable TV socialism that President Reagan approved in 1984 which goes against antitrust laws that allows cable TV networks to bundle their products and is sold to consumers by a cable TV operator on a basic expanded tier. The Cable TV operator and the networks cut the deal and the consumer either accepts the package or turns it down. ESPN is the most profitable part of the Disney company because of cable TV socialism where 100 percent of those buying basic expanded services are paying for what a tiny fraction watch. ESPN is the most expensive channel on the tier but consumers don’t know that because cable TV companies do not have to itemize bills for their consumers.
Disney will submit a bid and most of the money behind that bid will come from people who never watch ESPN.
If the Olympics creed contains anything about fair and honest competition, which at some point might have been true, it is certainly not the case today. Pound wants Obama in Copenhagen and what the IOC wants is far more important than health care in America, or talks with North Korea, or Iran, or the economy, or Wall Street, or the Middle East, or Iraq or Afghanistan. After all, the Olympics are the Olympics and you just cannot slag off the Olympics even if it is true that the IOC has a proven history as a gang of thieves that have been run in the past by fascists and is above the law. It is still the Olympics, the pinnacle of competition, at least that is what Pound wants people to believe.