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Romney visits Korea with hand out to IOC
He's hoping for some financial concessions

SEOUL, South Korea -- Mitt Romney's first dinner after arriving Monday night at the luxurious hotel where the International Olympic Committee is meeting this week came in a grocery sack.

He'd bought six dinner rolls and a jar of jam to eat in his room while going over the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's presentation to the IOC Executive Board scheduled for Tuesday morning, just 12 hours away.Romney plans to ask the IOC leaders for financial concessions that could add up to millions of dollars, in addition to updating them on how preparations for the Games are going.

"It's got to be my job to convince the IOC that we're professionally managed, on track and deserving of their support beyond what's contractually required," Romney said. "I expect a very positive reception."

But not any commitments. Romney went so far as to fly to Montreal, Canada, last week to meet in person with IOC Vice President Dick Pound for advice on how to make his pitch.

What he was told by Pound and others is that he has to rely on the IOC administration to work out just how much additional money might be available to Salt Lake City.

"I'm hoping the IOC Executive Board will endorse our recommendation for IOC help and support and that they'll assign their staff to work with us," Romney said.

The SLOC president will be accompanied during his report to the IOC board by SLOC Managing Director of Sport Cathy Priestner Allinger and SLOC Chairman Bob Garff. There won't be any specific numbers in the presentation, although some details were made public when the IOC commission overseeing the Games visited Salt Lake City last month.

For example, the commission agreed the IOC should pay the additional cost of housing members if hotel rooms end up costing more than $200 a night. SLOC had budgeted $1.2 million to cover the difference.

Pound said earlier Monday that requests from organizing committees for financial help are typical. "We regularly give them consideration on their merit," he said.

But SLOC is in a unique situation -- its budget woes are a result of the scandal surrounding Salt Lake City's bid for the Games. Organizers are looking for ways to cut the $1.45 billion budget.

Pound, who released a new marketing report Monday that showed the IOC is recovering from the scandal, said he expects organizers to "ratchet down expenses."

Romney said he's already learned to pick his battles with the IOC. One he won't fight is losing a key technology consultant, Philippe Verveer, to the IOC.

Verveer will replace Pascal Wattiaux as the IOC's director of technology. IOC Director General Francois Carrard said Sunday that Wattiaux was resigning to pursue other opportunities.

Verveer, who was co-director of information technology for the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, was hired in January by SLOC as a full-time consultant.

His job was working out the details of various information technology sponsorships for SLOC. Verveer won't be replaced, according to SLOC spokeswoman Caroline Shaw.

Shaw said Verveer is expected to continue to assist Salt Lake City in his new role with the IOC. "In a way it's good news for us because in his new position, he'll be a strong supporter of Salt Lake City."

Carrard downplayed the impact on the 2002 Winter Games of losing Verveer. "Of course Mr. Verveer will be very much available to provide his advice to the Salt Lake City Games," Carrard said.

Carrard even joked that Salt Lake City will now get advice on setting up its computer systems without having to pay consulting fees. "The same advice, free of charge," he said.

The top IOC administrator also said there's no need to worry about getting all of the technology partners together that Salt Lake City will need for the Games.

"The latest I heard is there were some new prospects," Carrard said, suggesting a group of new technology sponsors may be signed by the IOC as soon as this week.

The 2002 Winter Games are the first to have to replace longtime Olympic sponsor IBM. The services provided by the computer giant are expected to be divided into a number of hopefully lucrative sponsorships.

Already, the IOC has sold an international sponsorship to Sema, a little-known French company that will handle systems integration. Other companies are being sought in a number of areas, including the Internet.

SLOC officials have expressed concern about coming up with all of the services needed, especially in time to make sure everything will work together smoothly during the Games.

Already, SLOC has had to contract with a company for event results, something the organization had hoped would be contributed as part of a sponsorship package.

Romney said last week that organizers had found a company interested in giving away the needed software, but the deal was nixed by an unnamed IOC sponsor.

It's not yet clear exactly how the IOC and the Salt Lake Games will divide the technology partnerships. SLOC gets a much larger share of deals made for national sponsorships.