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  • Dead Heat in Olympics Bid Power Index


(ATR) Ten days before the IOC vote in Guatemala, the three cities bidding for the 2014 Winter Olympics are in a dead heat in the final edition of the acclaimed Around the Rings Olympic Bid Power Index.

PyeongChang, Salzburg and Sochi each scored 83 out of 110 points. The 11-category index has tracked the field since the race began in August 2005.

Salzburg has been the leader, but weaknesses exposed in the past few months have allowed PyeongChang and Sochi to catch up. The Russian bid picks up eight points in the new index; the South Korean bid adds six points this time around.

The Around the Rings Olympic Bid Power Index is based on 11 criteria that include subjective points such as ambiance, and objective details such as accommodations or transport.

2014 Winter Olympic Bid Power Index - June 25 2007

PyeongChang Salzburg Sochi
Accommodation 7 8 (9) 7
Ambience 6 9 6
Bid Operation 8 (7) 7 (5) 9
Games Cost 6 7 (8) 5 (3)
Last Games 9 (8) 7 (6) 9 (8)
Legacy 8 7 9 (8)
Marketing 8 (7) 6 (5) 9 (8)
Gov/Pub Support 10 (9) 6 (8) 10
Security 6 6 (7) 6 (5)
Transportation 7 (6) 10 (9) 6 (5)
Venues/Experience 8 (7) 10 (9) 7 (6)
(previous rank April 22, 2007)
Final Ranking - - -

The index is based on multiple visits by ATR correspondents to the cities over the past two years and coverage of presentations by the cities around the globe. Scrutiny of bid documents and interviews with bid officials, IOC members and other sports leaders also influenced the rankings.

The Power Index is the only ranking of its kind and is 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 an 8 after the IOC Evaluation Commission report highlights a potential problem of transport links and coordination of services for the 1400+ hotels and lodges to be used for official use, but the quality of accommodations in Austria is still generally at a higher level than the other bids. PyeongChang (7) and Sochi (7) both have significant plans to upgrade their already plentiful supply of rooms.

Ambience: Salzburg (9) at the top of the category that considers the atmosphere of the city.

Of the three cities, Salzburg is the only one that includes venues and a medals plaza in the center of town that has a history that goes back to the Middle Ages. The city centers of Sochi (6) and PyeongChang (6) are both removed from the Games action.

Sochi leaders say that a “21st Century City” will rise around the Olympic Park planned for the Imeretinskaya Valley, 30 minutes south of Sochi. PyeongChang will construct the new Alpensia resort that would become the population center of the Games.

Bid Operation: Sochi wins a 9 in the category for a team that has been the most cohesive and consistent throughout the campaign, from organizing committee to head of state. PyeongChang (8) is also well-organized and earned the fewest negative observations of all the cities in the 2014 evaluation commission report, but seems to have a weak relationship with the Korean Olympic Committee. Salzburg (7) has not had the resources of its rivals and has had a few bumps in the road with its leadership. Salzburg has also had to helplessly watch while the Austrian Olympic Committee has had to deal with the aftermath of the Turin blood doping scandal.

Sochi has more women on its bid team than any other city; Salzburg is second. PyeongChang remains male-dominated with no women in decision-making roles at the front of the bid.

Games Cost: Salzburg (7) was cited by IOC experts for coming in low on some cost estimates, such as security, but would be the most economical of the three Games. PyeongChang (6) has a major construction program ahead, while Sochi (5) has a $12 billion package of projects to deliver, the most of the three bids.

Last Games:

Sochi (9) and PyeongChang (8) are both making the appeal that they are new territory for the Winter Games. Salzburg (6) is trying for the third Games in Austria, although the last time was as a stand-in 31 years ago when Denver handed back the 1976 Games.

Legacy: Sochi (9) edges to the front on what will be left from the Games for sport. For such an important winter sports nation, high-performance training centers and venues -- particularly for ski events -- are lacking in Russia. PyeongChang (8) also will produce an influx of new venues, but whether these will boost winter sports in South Korea remains to be seen. Salzburg (8) would receive a new ice hockey arena and community sports arenas from the Games. Bid leaders say the legacy of a Salzburg bid will be measured in attracting a new generation to winter sports.

Marketing: Sochi (9) has pushed its plan for the Games most aggressively among the cities -- maybe too much, some observers say. PyeongChang (8) is also an energetic promoter while Salzburg (6) just has not been able to generate a buzz around the bid despite technical superiority.

Government/Public Support: Sochi (10) has been at the top of the table from the start in the category due to the leadership the bid has received from the government of Russia, particularly Vladimir Putin. PyeongChang (10) has solidified its government support while the effusive public support for the bid shown during the Evaluation Commission visit was noted in the IOC report. Salzburg (6) has the highest opposition according to the IOC report, but unequivocal government support. Salzburg leaders say support is rising and that negatives have dropped since the IOC survey seven months ago.

Security: All three bids score 6 in security. The IOC report makes clear Salzburg needs to increase its estimates for security. Despite the promise of peace on the peninsula through the Olympics, nothing is guaranteed from North Korea, which is just 100 km from the center of the PyeongChang bid. Sochi insists the city’s terrorism-free history makes it a safe bet for the Games, but Russia has experienced enough ugly terrorist attacks to make public safety a top concern.

Transportation: For European spectators and athletes who are at the core of the winter sports movement, Salzburg (10) will be the easiest to reach. It also would offer the easiest to travel to venues via existing rail and autobahns. PyeongChang, (7) offers a great airport at Incheon near Seoul, but visitors still need to travel onwards two hours or more by land to reach the Olympic venues. Sochi (6) is opening a new airport and promises better connections to Europe as well as through Moscow. Major roadway improvements are coming to Sochi.

Venues/Experience: There is little question as to the venues and experience Salzburg (10) offers, the tops of the three. PyeongChang (8) is hosting world cup events and world championships and has well-established ski venues but lacks any hockey experience. Sochi (7) has the most to build and lacks organizational experience in ski events, but Russia is deep with hockey and figure skating experts.

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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