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  • On the Scene in New Zealand -- Rogge Discusses African Olympics, Rugby's Inclusion


    Jacques Rogge said the 2010 World Cup in South Africa may be the continent's best chance to promote itself for an Olympic bid. (Getty Images)
    IOC president Jacques Rogge says next year’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa may bolster the chances of a successful bid by the continent to host the Olympics.

    “We would love to see the Olympic Games being organized in all continents and sub-continents,” Rogge told reporters in Wellington, en route to the annual general assembly of the Oceania National Olympic Committees, in Queenstown, New Zealand.

    “On the other hand to award the Games to a continent you need candidates and Africa to date has not sent a candidate.

    “Africa, for very understandable reasons they wanted to concentrate on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.”

    Rogge says within a decade of South Africa staging the FIFA World Cup in 2010, there will be other African nations also wanting to host major sporting events and they would need to meet infrastructure and organizational requirements.

    “We are working hard to reduce the cost of the Olympic Games as much as possible. On the other hand we have a duty to the athletes,” he says.

    “The athletes deserve very well organized Games because they only have one or two opportunities to participate in an Olympic Games.

    “And I would not want to live with the situation where we would have to say to the athletes 'we did our best we tried, they were not good Games I'm sorry for that see you later', because there may not be another Games for them.”

    Rogge Expresses Sympathy for Rugby’s Olympic Bid
    "Rugby is a great sport" Rogge said, adding he has "a lot of sympathy" for Rugby Sevens' Olympic bid, but the decision is not up to him. (Getty Images)

    Rogge says he has “a lot of sympathy” for the bid to make rugby sevens an Olympic sport, but the former Belgian rugby international says the sport’s inclusion in the Games from 2016, is not up to him.

    “Let me say very clearly I do not vote. I have a lot of sympathy, but I have no vote,” Rogge says.

    Rugby sevens is one of a number of sports - including squash, baseball, softball, karate, golf and roller sports - vying for two spots in the Olympic sports program, alongside the existing 26 events in 2016.

    A final decision on which sports will be included will be made by the IOC Congress in October in Copenhagen.

    “I did that as well as I could, but I never found the joy in sailing that I found in rugby. Don't ask me why,” Rogge, who represented Belgium in yachting at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, said.

    “Rugby is a great sport; there is no doubt about that.”

    Rogge, 66, says that to be selected, the sport must be played throughout most of the world, enhance the existing structure of the Olympics, attract spectators and television viewers, and must not be too difficult or expensive to organize.

    “Definitely we want a sport with very strong ethical values, we want a sport that makes a very strong business of fighting against doping,” he said.

    IOC/USOC Revenue Deal

    Rogge says he expects another “tier” of funding will be added to the revenue-sharing contract his organization has with the USOC after 2020, following the deal reached during Sportaccord in Denver last week.

    The agreement is the culmination of four years of tense negotiations.

    Presently, the USOC gets 20 percent of the IOC's top sponsorship program and 12.75 percent of the IOC's TV revenues.

    “The contracts from 2013 will have another tier of distribution than the one we are having now - and that's something that has to be discussed so I can't give you an actual figure,'' Rogge says.

    “All the revenue coming after 2020 there will be another tier of distribution that is going to be discussed bilaterally between the IOC and the USOC.

    “We are going ... to discuss this (third) tier of distribution immediately after the (2012) London Games, that is, early 2013.”

    Rogge did not elaborate further on what the proposed extra “tier” entails, but says the effect “is going to be gradual ... with funding contracts (between the IOC and USOC) already in place until 2020.'”

    “We always sign contracts with a lead (time) of seven years,'' he notes.
    The USOC agreed to consider paying several million dollars in the short term in exchange for delaying the talks on reducing its take of sponsorship and TV revenues until 2013.

    At the Denver meeting one senior Olympic official derided the USOC's previous offers to settle the issue as “peanuts”.

    Asked if the deal was "better than peanuts?'' Rogge only laughed and declined comment.

    “We have a very good agreement that was achieved in a very good spirit, with a sense of true partnership,” Rogge says.

    IOC supports WADA “whereabouts” policy

    Rogge says the IOC supports the controversial ‘whereabouts’ policy that has created a rift between the World Anti-Doping Agency and world football governing body FIFA.

    “The position of the IOC is very clear ... we are in favor of the 'whereabouts' policy. There is no doubt about that,” Rogge says.

    “We think this is essential to have a good fight against doping.”

    WADA has been at loggerheads with FIFA and the powerful European football body UEFA, over the policy introduced on January 1.

    The policy requires athletes to notify anti-doping authorities of their location for an hour a day.

    FIFA wants the rule to apply to teams and not individual players, and says out-of-competition tests should only take place at club training facilities.

    It also says players should not be tested during holidays “in order to respect their private life”.

    Rogge says all international federations at the WADA conference in Madrid at the end of 2007 had agreed to the 'whereabouts' rule and had 12 months to get ready for its implementation.

    “There seemed to be a lack of communication between the moment the decision was taken and the implementation,” Rogge says.

    “In some federations the information has not seeped through to the athletes' level, so we have definitely advised WADA to make lots of information available on that.”

    While he said the IOC considered doping in sports its number one priority, Rogge stopped short of suggesting football could be removed from the Olympics if it did not comply with the rule.

    WADA Secretary General David Howman has suggested as recently as last week that in regard to the WADA Code, the IOC charter states that non-compliant federations can be removed from the Olympic program.

    Written by Anthony Stavrinos.

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