IOC prez: Olympics will survive economy

GENEVA — IOC president Jacques Rogge says the global financial crisis should not hurt preparations for upcoming Olympics.

"No one has certainties today, but I am not pessimistic for the Olympic Games," Rogge said.

Funding for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, is secure while authorities in London, site of the 2012 Summer Games, have assured the International Olympic Committee they can overcome the worldwide credit crunch.

Rogge said there is "no issue" concerning Vancouver, which had a budget for building venues set last year at $577 million.

The Olympic Development Authority in London said last week it still expected to find private financing for construction work, although on tougher terms.

London may need to call on reserves from the British government's contingency fund of $1.9 billion to help pay for the athletes' village and a new broadcast and press center.

The ODA had hoped to raise $900 million from the private sector for the $2 billion Olympic village, which has been scaled back to 3,300 apartments for 17,000 athletes and coaches.

Rogge said the money needed to create city infrastructure for the Olympics, including building airports and roads, should be seen as an investment, not an expense.

"These are investments for 40, 50, 60 years to come," Rogge said. "This leaves a big legacy to the city.

"The authorities (in London) will build an Olympic village. It is going to recoup itself because it is going to be sold after the games to private citizens and customers, as we have seen in Beijing."

Rogge rejected the suggestion that the Olympics have grown too big and become an extravagance for host and bidding cities.

"People are always speaking about small games, without financial means and without TV rights and so on," he said. "We had games like that and they are absolutely hypocritical."

Rogge said the old Olympic ethos of amateurism meant only rich countries could afford to compete.

"If we generate a lot of money because of the TV rights and the presence of 30,000 media people it is just because with this money we can invest in developing countries."

Rogge said the IOC invests $3 billion in each four-year Olympic cycle, helping to build facilities and train athletes and coaches in developing countries.

"This is only because there is this media success of the games," Rogge said. "To reduce the games we would have to reduce the media and this is something we do not want to do because the media bring the money."

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