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OSTERSUND TAKES LOW-KEY APPROACH

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While Salt Lake bid officials wined and dined a small group of International Olympic Committee members Friday night, the head of the Ostersund, Sweden, bid sipped a Perrier and pondered pushiness.

Although all nine cities bidding for the 2002 Winter Games are lobbying for votes at the Centennial Olympic Congress and IOC meeting here, Ostersund Bidding Committee Chairman Christer Perrson continues to emphasize politeness."We have gotten remarks on that. Some say you should be more (on the) offensive, not silent, polite Swedes. We have considered that, but we do not believe that," Perrson said.

"You do not push IOC members. . . . You follow them and are prepared when they need information," he said. "We want to increase our contacts, not do any hard marketing."

That means only one-on-one meetings between Ostersund's bid delegation and IOC members instead of sit-down dinners. Perrson wasn't being critical of any other bid city, however.

Seated in Ostersund's half-finished display booth in the CNIT, a huge center in Paris' La Defense business district, Perrson is especially careful to avoid criticizing the competition.

And of pushing Ostersund's bid too hard.

Like Salt Lake City and Jaca, Spain, Ostersund is trying again after losing the 1998 Winter Games to Nagano, Japan. The small lakeside community in central Sweden is expected to be among the four finalists for the 2002 Winter Games.

Ostersund has bid three times before, and Perrson is cautiously optimistic. Past decisions to award the Winter Games to Lillehammer, Norway, for 1994 and to Nagano may have been "best for the Olympic Games," he said.

"If the IOC finds Ostersund the best for the Olympic movement at a certain time, that will make us happy, of course. But we think the most important thing is the Olympic movement," he said.

Perrson does sound proud describing the proposed Olympic sites detailed in drawings that will be hung on the booth's walls. One shows an Olympic arena perched in the mountains and overlooking the valley.

He doesn't think many IOC members will stop by, for practical reasons. "We don't put much importance on this," he said. "If IOC members come here to visit us, they have to visit all nine cities . . . that will make them refrain."

All nine cities do have booths in the CNIT, near the temporary IOC offices, open during the IOC Executive Committee meeting this weekend, next week's Olympic Congress and the IOC session that follows.

A lone member of Salt Lake City's delegation was left behind Friday to finish decorating its booth with pictures of the area, including a huge sweeping view of Salt Lake City at night.

Jaca bid officials, who were settled into their booth much earlier in the day, were also around Friday evening. Deputy Director Eduardo Roldan said that like Salt Lake City and Ostersund, Jaca welcomes another chance at the games.

"Our mind is to continue," Roldan said. "To be nominated, I think you need experience. If you think you can get the bid the first time, you are wrong."

Jaca, he said, will try again for 2006 if it is not successful in the current bidding.

Roldan does expect Jaca to be among the four cities in the running after the IOC makes a first-ever cut in January. To do so, Jaca would have to best one of the four strong favorites.

The final four candidates, which will be chosen based on technical merit, are expected to be Salt Lake City; Ostersund; Sion, Switzerland; and Quebec, Canada.

Roldan declined to predict the four cities that will be allowed to continue to compete for the 2002 winter games, except to say Jaca and Salt Lake City should be among them.

This year's Jaca bid is stronger, he said, because its venues are spread in the Pyrenees Mountains and even into another country, the tiny nation of Andorra.

In addition to Salt Lake City, Ostersund, Jaca, Sion and Quebec; Sochi, Russia; Graz, Austria; Tarvisio, Italy; and Poprad-Tatry, Slovakia are also bidding.

Each city is scheduled to present its bid to IOC executive committees Saturday and to hold press conferences with international media either Saturday or Sunday.