Olympics Reform: A Case of Ready, Set, Stop

  • Share
  • Read Later
Itís an organization that prides itself on showcasing agility and swiftness, but as its president once again demonstrated on Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee is an organization that values inertia above all. Addressing a committee gathering in Seoul, South Korea, Juan Antonio Samaranch firmly announced he would stay at the helm of the scandal-plagued organization at least until his term expires in 2001 and declared: "We say no to hasty reforms to please our critics." Samaranch said the IOC had already carried out many of its promises, including a housecleaning of 10 members accused of accepting improper inducements from Salt Lake City organizers. As for further changes, he said he would await an internal reform panelís recommendations due by yearís end to see what should be done.

"Samaranchís speech is nothing surprising," says Robert Sullivan, who has covered the Olympics for TIME. "The organization is an insular group and he is a stubborn man who is not someone to change things." Many observers believe that change will eventually be forced on the Olympics for commercial reasons. "A number of major sponsors, concerned about their image, are still applying pressure," says Sullivan. Many of them intend to monitor the TV ratings for the 2000 games to see how much the public has soured on the Olympic movement. If the ratings drop significantly, says Sullivan, "that will be what spurs changes."