PRAGUE, July 3 (AFP) - As the successful Vancouver2010 Winter Games bid team packed their bags andprepared to leave the Czech capital to face a victorioushomecoming it was beginning to become clear just howclose the Canadian city had come to losing.
Both IOC members and observers were stunned byVancouver’s wafer-thin 56-53 win over the South Koreanunderdogs Pyeongchang.
They were even more stunned by Pyeongchang’s lead inthe first round and the fact the winter sports town hadbeen only three votes short of an overall majority.
Vancouver had invested a massive amount of time in thebuild-up to Wednesday’s vote by the IOC Session inwooing the South American members and were confident oftheir full support.
It has since become clear that Vancouver’s forecastwas wide of the mark with nearly half of the 11 SouthAmericans voting for the South Koreans.
Frankly, Vancouver got it all wrong with where theirvotes were coming from. In the end it didn't matter,they won, but it was a mistake that could have cost themthe Olympics,'' said one experienced bid consultant. When Pyeongchang arrived here at the start of the weekthey were regarded as simply making up the numbers. But 48 hours before the vote panic set in amongstpro-Vancouver IOC members as it suddenly became clearthat Pyeongchang, aided by top Olympic sponsor Samsung,were making massive inroads into the Canadian's support. Suddenly it was going to be Salzburg who was about tobecome the first round victim and not the South Koreans. Even the support of former IOC president Juan AntonioSamaranch could not save Salzburg, who had hoped to gohead-to-head against Vancouver. It was our worst nightmare senario,’’ said aSalzburg spokesman. Lots of IOC members told us theywould vote for Pyeongchang in the first round and thenback us. But we knew we risked going out in the firstround.'' But their defeat was even worse that they had feared -they managed only 16 votes compared to Vancouver's 40and Pyeongchang's 51. Several IOC members and consultants are convinced thatthe two-billion plus dollar contract signed by NBC forthe 2010 and 2012 Olympics made the difference inVancouver going home winners instead of losers. Either the 2010 or 2012 Games were expected to go toNorth America and NBC's head of sport, Dick Ebersol hadmade it clear the American network would rather have theWinter Games rather than the Summer on North Americansoil. A lot of IOC members appreciate that NBC has playeda major role in turning the IOC into a multi-billiondollar business,’’ explained one European consultant.
``This support paid off big-time for Vancouver. If theUS television deal had not been signed, Vancouver couldwell have lost,’’ he added.
Ebersol was clearly a delighted man when he went toVancouver’s celebration party on Wednesday night. APyeongchang win could have cost the network a fortune.It could also have cost the IOC an ever bigger fortunewhen the 2014 and 2016 US television rights came up forbids.
Now the lessons learned here will be, at least inpart, applied to the 2012 battle that pits London,Paris, Madrid, Leipzig, Mosscow and Istanbul against NewYork.
It is expected to be an all European battle betweenParis and London but 2010 was expected to be between Vancouver and Salzburg.
New York advisors were here this week watching the2010 vote unfold. Their pre-vote claims that the IOCcould vote two successive Olympics in North America arenot looking so fanciful.