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  • Bidding for the Games: Chicago Defends Kuwait Visit


    Chicago Says Kuwait Visit Broke No Rules

    Chicago 2016 spokesmen say a visit between bid chairman Patrick Ryan and IOC member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah in Kuwait was all above board.

    Ryan traveled first to Qatar to scope out plans for a branch of Northwestern University in the emirate. Ryan, who is chair of the Northwestern board, was travelling with the president of the university. The visit also gave Ryan the chance to size-up the rival bid for 2016 from Doha.

    Ryan then went to Kuwait where he met with Sheikh Ahmad, along with USOC International Relations director Robert Fasulo. Fasulo was in Kuwait for business with the Olympic Council of Asia, of which Ahmad is president.

    While IOC rules say visits from bid cities to IOC members are not allowed, Ryan was in Kuwait on other business for his company, Aon, according to Chicago spokesman Patrick Sandusky.

    Given the notices already handed out to some of the 2016 cities by the IOC Ethics Commission, some cautionary comments may already be on the way to Ryan from the IOC.

    Doha 2016 Chief in U.S.

    Keeping below the radar while he is the U.S. this week is the chair of the Doha 2016 bid, Hassan Ali Bin Ali. Just as Ryan visited Qatar and Kuwait on other business, Hassan will spend his time on business affairs in New York City and New Orleans. He will attend the NBA All Star Game being played in New Orleans on Feb. 17. An official familiar with the trip says Hassan is trying to promote Qatar as a place to hold NBA matches.

    Visa Endorses Singapore YOG Bid

    Visa staff in Singapore are displaying its support for the Singapore 2010 YOG bid with electronic posters placed where people shop and stroll. Advertising terminals at movie theatres and one mall feature the banner among other messages. It also appears on screens placed along the Esplanade, a waterfront pedestrian district popular with Singaporeans and tourists.

    "As we come closer to the announcement date, we wish Singapore all the best in its bid to host the 2010 Youth Olympic Games," says Meranda Chan, country manager of Singapore and Brunei for Visa International, in a written press release.
    This tag, similar to the e-posters, appears on emails sent by some Visa staff in Singapore.

    "Visa’s experience as a sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1986 gives us insights into how important a country’s infrastructure and financial environment are in ensuring a successful global event," she adds.

    Worldwide sponsors – such as Visa International – are barred from endorsing Olympic bids. It is not clear if the campaign is strictly an initiative from the regional office, or which endorsement rules may apply to the YOG. Visa International headquarters could not immediately be reached for comment.

    Reno-Tahoe Calls for 2018 Support

    Organizers of the nascent Reno-Tahoe bid for the 2018 winter Olympics are waiting for the results of a phone opinion poll testing community support for the Games and the additional taxes.

    "If the overwhelming response is [that] no taxpayer dollars in any way should be used to fund the Olympic effort,
    Squaw Valley, host of the 1960 Winter Games, is on Lake Tahoe and may play a part in a 2018 bid from the region. (Getty Images)
    then I think we will take that to heart,” says Nevada Lieutenant Governor and Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition chairman Brian Krolicki.

    “I would not envision any new tax," Krolicki said.

    Krolicki says public opposition to higher taxes for the Olympics would put Reno-Tahoe at a disadvantage against other American cities.

    “We can anticipate certainly areas like Denver to put a bid forward. They have spent millions of dollars already in preparing their bid. So, we need to make sure we have the wherewithal and the assets to do this well,” Krolicki said.

    Krolicki estimates the cost of hosting the Olympics at “several billion”.

    Results of the poll will be made public next week.

    Written by Ed Hula

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