Athletes ask IOC to put records before ratings


Nicole Jeffery
August 03, 2006

SOME of the world’s leading competitors, including triple Olympic gold medallist Pieter van den Hoogenband, will petition the International Olympic Committee to reject a proposal to stage finals in the morning at the Beijing Olympics.
The IOC is due this month to make a decision on the NBC television proposal, which would allow the American network to show the finals in prime time.

However, elite swimmers are disturbed that they have not been consulted on an issue that could significantly affect their performances. Former world champion Michael Klim revealed yesterday that his fellow senior swimmers van den Hoogenband and Austria’s Olympic silver medallist Markus Rogan were intent on organising a petition at the European championships in Budapest this week to oppose the NBC plan.

Klim has spent most of the past month training with van den Hoogenband in Cyprus, where the Dutchman expressed considerable disquiet about the direction of the sport. Van den Hoogenband and Rogan intend to set up an international swimmers’ union.

“We had extensive talks there and the program for Beijing is something that we want to address,” Klim said.

"I don’t think it’s fair. I think swimming is one of the biggest sports of the Olympics and I don’t think we should be pandering to the American dollar.

“We can still prepare to swim fast but it’s about where the priorities lie. This is not in our best interests and sends a message that they don’t care about the athletes and the sport.”

The trio intends to approach influential former swimmers Alex Popov (now an IOC member) and Janet Evans (chair of the International Swimming Federation athletes’ commission) to support their cause.

They will also have the support of Australian team captain Grant Hackett, who said it was important for the swimmers to have a “voice”.

Klim said another issue of concern was the recent International Swimming Federation announcement that it had sold sponsorship rights to the swimming caps of the competitors at the world championships.

The swimmers have begun to ask what they will be getting in return, as they are being turned into billboards. There is likely to be a push for prizemoney to be introduced at the world championships.

Klim suggested that a boycott of meets could be the ultimate result, if FINA was unwilling to share its income with the athletes who attract the revenue.

Swimming Australia is also disturbed by FINA’s excursion into uniform sponsorship, traditionally the domain of national federations.

SA executive director Glenn Tasker confirmed that the FINA move placed the Australian team in an awkward position with its major sponsor Telstra, which has the sponsorship rights to the Australian caps.

“We wrote to FINA to advise them that their rule would force us to break a contract, but their response was, ‘bad luck, you can’t have it’,” Tasker said.

SA is now looking for a way to appease its sponsor with replacement benefits. Tasker said it would propose increasing the allowed size of logos on swimsuits and track suits to compensate for the loss of the swim caps, at a FINA meeting in Madrid next month.,20867,19999294-2722,00.html

Good luck, my prediction is that FINA will go the networks proposal and keep the $ from the caps sponsorhip.

Although nowhere near the same level TV networks have negatively impacted on Test rugby here. All tests in NZ now start at 7.30pm so it ties in with the lucartive overseas markets, the conditions are often nowhere near as good as during the day and impacts upon the quality and style of game.

I have personally been to 2 tests where in mid afternoon (when up to a few years ago they would have beeen played) it was dry, sunny and temperatures were in the low teens C. At kick off time it was cold (2-3 C) and a heavy dew had made ground conditions slippery.

Yours in cynicsm.