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  • Around the Rings 2014 Olympic Bid Power Index: Salzburg Leads Lackluster 2014 Field


    (ATR) Salzburg holds onto a shrinking lead in the latest edition of the Around the Rings 2014 Olympic Bid Power Index. PyeongChang and Sochi, meanwhile, dash to the finish, although those bids are failing to gain much ground in a lackluster race. The IOC votes July 4 in Guatemala.

    This is the first edition of the Power Index since the cities submitted their bid books and hosted visits by the IOC Evaluation Commission in February and March. The previous index was issued on October 20, when Salzburg had a score of 87. In the latest index, the score drops to 82, still enough to edge out the other two.

    2014 Winter Olympic Power Index - April 22 2007

    PyeongChang Salzburg Sochi
    Accommodation 7(6) 9(8) 7(6)
    Ambience 6 9(8) 6(7)
    Bid Operation 7 5(8) 9(8)
    Games Cost 6 8 3
    Last Games 8 6 8
    Legacy 8 7(8) 8
    Marketing 7 5(7) 8
    Gov/Pub Support 9 8(9) 10
    Security 6 7 5(6)
    Transportation 6 9 5(6)
    Venues/Experience 7 9 6
    (previous rank October 3, 2006)
    Final Ranking 2 1 3

    With just 82 points out of 110 possible in the Power Index, the Salzburg bid is hardly in a commanding position, considering Austria’s winter sports reputation. PyeongChang ranks second with 77, while Sochi is third with 75.
    The Around the Rings Olympic Bid Power Index is a ranking based on 11 criteria that include subjective points such as ambience and objective details such as accommodations or transport. The index is based on multiple visits by ATR reporters to the cities in the past two years’, coverage of presentations by the cities around the globe as well as scrutiny of bid documents and interviews with bid officials, IOC members and other sports leaders.

    The Power Index is the only ranking of its kind based on first-hand knowledge and hands-on Olympics expertise.

    The index is not meant to predict but to compare some of the major points that go into a successful Olympic Games. Judgments are based on nearly 20 years of covering Winter and Summer Olympics and the bids that led to them.

    Here’s our review of the cities and how they stand:

    Accommodation: Salzburg scores a 9, the undisputed king of rooms. Sochi and PyeongChang will need extensive construction to satisfy Olympics demand; each score 7. Salzburg’s supply of housing is complicated by the small size of nearly all properties. That will make it tough for some groups to stay in one hotel and could add wrinkles to transportation plans.

    Ambience: Salzburg (9), offers a charming old city,

    a genteel image burnished by its long association with music and art. Restaurants, shops, museums and theaters are all an easy walk for visitors, of whom there are a couple million each year. The city of Sochi and the Black Sea coast also is a major draw for millions of summer visitors. But the city center will be 30 minutes or more north from the center of Olympic events at the Imeretinskaya Valley. And even with the promise of 21st Century hotels and venues, the road leading to the area is lined with industrial sites and shabby buildings. It’s an inauspicious gateway to the Olympic Park, resulting in a score of 6.

    PyeongChang, score of 6, seems to have no life outside the ski resorts that will serve as venues, and no central gathering point. Gangneung seems promising: the coastal city will be the site of all the ice events, an easy 30-minute drive from PyeongChang. But non-Korean visitors will find it tough to find restaurants, hotels and other amenities catering to Western tastes.

    Bid Operation: Sochi has the team to beat in the 2014 race. The largest and most enthusiastic of the field scores 9. Salzburg slips two points to 5 for losing a second CEO and failing to recruit a replacement. Mayor Heinz Schaden has increased his role, but the bid is generally under-resourced. PyeongChang is winning points for improvements made to its second bid for the Games, scoring 7. Sochi is exemplary with membership of women on the bid team, followed by Salzburg. PyeongChang is male-dominated with no women in decision-making roles at the front of the bid.

    Games Cost: No change in the scores from October. Sochi has the most expensive budget, about $12 billion. PyeongChang will spend a few billion, while Salzburg has the least to spend, about $1.5 billion.

    Last Games:

    Scores are the same from the October index. PyeongChang and Sochi, each with 8, would be firsts for South Korea and Russia, countries with growing interest in winter sports. Salzburg has a 6 based on hosting two previous Winter Games in Austria, 1964 and 1976.

    Legacy: Sochi and PyeongChang tie for the lead at 8. Sochi has $12 billion earmarked for sport facilities, public works and other projects that will make a mark on the southern Russian landscape. Winter sports venues also will get a boost from investment in PyeongChang, but whether new ice rinks will get put to use is a challenge. The same question looms for Sochi. For Salzburg (7), a new ice arena will be home for the Salzburg Red Bulls, the national champion hockey team. Two smaller arenas will become community sport centers after the Games.

    Marketing: Sochi (8), has the most developed marketing program, which includes placement of TV ads on CNN International and BBC World feeds. PyeongChang is just behind Sochi with 7, while Salzburg lags with a score of 5. The Austrian bid lacks the marketing “oomph” that matches the qualities offered in areas such as venues and ambiance. Government/Public Support: Sochi earns a 10 for the way the national government has thrown its weight behind the bid. PyeongChang, score of 9, also enjoys strong support. Austria’s new chancellor spent a day in Salzburg in March, meeting with the IOC evaluation team, but making it clear to the press that Austria does not have unlimited funds to throw at a bid or the Games. Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the IOC commission in February, as did Korean President Moo Hyun Roh.

    Security: With a score of 7, placid Salzburg seems to have few security worries, but whether the country can afford the $1 billion that securing the Games now seems to cost remains to be seen. Until military issues are resolved with North Korea, security for PyeongChang will be in question, scoring a 6. Sochi, already clouded by conflicts in the Caucasus region, apparently has public safety issues, too. A March avalanche that swept a youngster to his death from a ski lift has yet to be fully explained, leaving the bid with score of 5.

    Transportation: Travelers from Europe and North America who make up the bulk of visitors to the Winter Olympics will find it easier to get to Salzburg than either Sochi or PyeongChang due to Salzburg’s location in central Europe. Air, rail and road connections are more advanced than any of the other bids. That scores a 9 for the Austrians. PyeongChang, (6), requires a long land connection from gateway airport Inchon near Seoul. Travel to Sochi for the most part requires connections through Moscow airports, leaving the Russian bid with a 5.

    Venues/Experience: Austria’s experience holding major winter sports events every year and an abundance of existing venues near Salzburg make this bid the leader, scoring 9, the same from the October index. Likewise for scores for PyeongChang at 7 and 6 for Sochi.

    The Categories Explained

    Accommodation: Quality, quantity
    Ambience: Is the city comfortable, tourist-friendly, a pleasure to visit?
    Bid Operation: Leadership, strategy and public relations
    Games Cost and Finance: The projected bill for operating the Olympics and the infrastructure needed, unusual finance risks. Higher scores indicate lower cost
    Last Games in Country: Years since last Summer or Winter Olympics. Higher the score, the longer since the Games. Some credit could be given for recent Olympic bids
    Legacy: Impact of the Olympics in a city; sustainable venues
    Marketing: The size and impact of marketing programs
    Government and Public Support: The commitment of government and populace for a Games
    Security: Reputation and quality of security, perceptions of risk
    Transportation: Ease of travel, multiple transport options, airports, quality of public transit, taxis
    Venues/ Experience: The overall plan for the Games and experience handling other events, winter sports in particular

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