clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Nagano vows to avoid Games glitches

Don't worry, the media's bus drivers will know where they're going during the 1998 Winter Games. Their computer system will deliver event results on time. And their bar will stay open late.

That's what journalists attending the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit in Salt Lake City were assured Monday by a spokesman for the Nagano Organizing Committee, Ko Yamaguchi.What he was really telling them was that care was being taken to avoid the same problems that plagued the last Olympics, the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

Or, as they were better known as by frustrated journalists, the "Glitch Games." Atlanta earned that nickname by failing to provide the media with transportation and technology that worked.

Yamaguchi recalled Monday that after he went to work for Nagano's Olympic organizers earlier this year, International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch gave his some straightforward advice.

The words from the world's Olympic leader? "Whether the Olympics are a success or not a success is up to the media people," Yamaguchi said, words he obviously has taken to heart.

His promises to the roomful of reporters - including a few from Japan - at the Little America Hotel ballroom drew appreciative smiles and even some laughter.

The chuckles came when Yamaguchi explained how well-trained the media bus drivers hired by Nagano organizers were going to be. No doubt, the journalists were remembering the out-of-town drivers who had gotten lost in Atlanta.

About the only inconvenience journalists could expect in Nagano, according to Yamaguchi, was having to follow the Japanese custom of removing their shoes before entering media housing.

Even Nagano residents are expected to cooperate in making work easier for journalists there to cover the Winter Games. Yamaguchi said residents are being asked to cut their car trips by 30 percent.

His comments came the day after the Salt Lake Organizing Committee chartered luxurious motor coaches to take journalists on a tour of 2002 Winter Games venues that included lunch at Deer Valley.

The Salt Lake organizers' message, of course, was the same as their Nagano counterparts - we'll do better than Atlanta did so you can send home good stories about us.

The USOC wants good press, too, for the athletes heading to Nagano to compete for their country. That's the stated purpose for the media summit, which ends Tuesday.

USOC officials predicted Team USA will win as many as 18 medals in Nagano. Many of the athletes expected to bring home the gold, silver and bronze are making appearances at the conference, including ice skater Michelle Kwan.

Journalists also got a reminder Monday about where much of the money to pay for the Olympics comes from - corporate sponsors. A new sponsor for the U.S. teams and the 2002 Winter Games, York International, was added Monday.

John Krimsky, the USOC's top marketer, promised at least two other sponsors will join the heating and cooling company as well as General Motors, US WEST, Texaco, Seiko and Home Depot.

Krimsky wouldn't name the new sponsors, but did say they'll be a malt beverage maker and an airline. Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser beer, and Delta Airlines have been past Olympic sponsors.

He also said athletes won't wear any logos on their uniforms during medal ceremonies in Nagano except the USOC's. Krimsky said it's an experiment to build support for the USOC logo, which includes the five Olympic rings.

The USOC is attempting to make the Team USA logo as popular as that of the Utah Jazz or any other national sports team. The more popular Team USA merchandise is, the more money the USOC will make from selling it.