Thursday, July 31, 2008

Touchdown


Atlanta. Milwaukee. Detroit. Tokyo. Beijing! Rocked 'em all during 24-hour-or-so commute to the Olympic city for a 10:30 p.m. (2230 hrs) touchdown last night. The Games are SO ... ON! Almost! Just eight days, according to be big countdown clock on Tiananmen Square. My big clock says "stop the abuse - please rest!" and I will oblige. But only after a tour of B.C. Canada Pavilion (just got here) and the Edelman Beijing office (later this afternoon).

Thanks to many people who responded to the Help A Reporter Out posting, I will have plenty of good information to share via future posts. Will start working through those soon. More photos and stories from the commute and first day very soon as well -- off and running!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lao-tzu For You


"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," was the quote that came to mind at the Atlanta airport yesterday (this thought sent me scrambling online to find its author, Lao-tzu -- who knew?). Given the long history behind this quote, at this moment, wondering the stage at which the word 'miles' was added to the translation.

The journey of more than ten thousand miles from Georgia to China at last is underway! Touched down in Milwaukee on Sunday for a day of last-minute pre-Games prep, visit with girlfriend and family, an overdue haircut and a free lunch courtesy of Milwaukee's cool Downtown Employees Appreciation Week (we have got to get one of these in Atlanta!). On the flight here via the BEST Care In The Air, had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Compton, a CEO from Calhoun, Ga., who was heading to Wisconsin for a week of presentations (good luck to him!).

Milwaukee has a curious mix of Olympic connections. The Pettit National Ice Center west of downtown is a great home for U.S. speedskaters (though not likely any will be in Beijing). Downtown's historic Hilton Hotel is fabulously affordable (and an Olympic lodging sponsor). And the magnificent Milwaukee Art Museum was designed by Spain's Santiago Calatrava (it's my understanding he's behind many of Barcelona's and Athens' key Olympic venue designs, and according to reference sites, today is his 57th birthday). Milwaukee would be an outstanding satellite venue for Chicago 2016 thanks to perfect (summer) weather and proximity north on Lake Michigan.

Also learning the how-to's of Flip Camera use (perhaps the coolest camera of all time!) and will post videos once more editing practice is complete. Dog tired, but jazzed that in just 12 hours the next leg (MKE to Detroit) will be complete before the long leg to Tokyo and Beijing.

Friday, July 25, 2008

History Repeats Itself


Got a heads up today that the Atlanta History Center has a recent new arrival to its Olympic collection from the 1996 Summer Olympics of Atlanta: A torch from the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay. Anyone visiting, or residing in, the U.S. South before or during Beijing's go would likely enjoy the museum's collection from Atlanta's glory days. Good stuff!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Time Goes By ... So ... Slowly ...


Through recent conversations with media about to converge on Beijing, the general consensus is that these Games need to 'hurry up and get here already!'

Thinking about time in general made me curious about Olympic timekeeping, and a brief online search yielded this handy history of timekeeping by The Electric New Paper of Singapore. That site begat some links over to the official timekeeper of the Olympics and their fabulous new wares for 2008.

For years I've been wearing a Seiko Olympic watch circa 1992 (a gift for my 21st from the 'rents). And somewhere in my closets or desk drawer is a great Swatch 1996 timepiece featuring Annie Leibovitz photos shot just before the Atlanta Games (another gift item). No matter the timepiece, it's 'hurry up and wait' for Beijing. Almost time!

IOC to Iraq: C-U-L8R


Today's news that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) won't allow Iraq Olympians to complete in China is getting plenty of headlines. It seems that since the government of Iraq has too much of a political role with their national Olympic committee (which was dissolved in May, according to Reuters), the IOC enforced its Olympic Charter and cut any Iraqi athletes from the roster for Beijing (Chapter Four of the Charter, for those who wish to study in detail).

From my perspective, this is much ado about nothing, and here's why:

One (common?) perception about the IOC is that, like the United Nations, the 200+ nations around the world have a representative up to the IOC. But the IOC is autonomous -- it is the IOC that deploys its representatives to the nations of the world, bestowing the opportunity to complete (via the Charter). Since there is no [legitimate by IOC Olympic Charter standards] national Olympic committee (NOC) in Iraq at this time, it only makes sense that no athletes could come to Beijing from that nation (the same action took place in 2000 when Afghanistan had a government-infused NOC that also was not in step with the IOC).

It is unfortunate, and sad, for Iraq's athletes who qualified thus far for Beijing, but if there is complaining in the works, it may be best to direct these complaints to the Iraq officials (who did not respond to IOC invitations to make necessary changes), rather than the IOC, for this lost opportunity. I have to wonder whether the White House realized how the Olympic Charter works before they commented on the situation.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Let Your Fingers Do The Walking (Err ... Running)

On the other side of the earth, people across Beijing are feverishly preparing for the Games. But back in Sydney, host of the spectacular Summer Games of 2000, Sydneysiders have 'no worries, mate' about Olympic prep. In fact, they're so relaxed about it now, it appears they have time to play The Sydney Morning Herald's totally awesome new computer keyboard Olympic Game (warning: for those viewing at work, very loud sporting music begins the moment of first click). Happy clicking!

Rings Go Better With Coke!


For 80 years, The Coca-Cola Company has been a sponsor or supplier of the Olympics. Today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution includes a feature on Big Red's activation plans for Beijing, and even delves into their future work for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

My earliest Olympic soda memory dates back to the summer of 1984. The cross-country Olympic Torch Relay passed through my hometown of Edmond, Okla., and a few weeks later the Opening Ceremonies broadcast from L.A. was narrated by Jim McKay on ABC (with the greatest card trick of all time). And sometime that summer we discovered that Coke was marketing its Olympic participation with special 12 oz. glass bottles on which Sam The Olympic Eagle mascot was waving -- I think one of those bottles went on to become our family's "last 'original formula' bottle" until New Coke came and went away a couple of years later.

The big soda company also took Olympic pin collecting to a new plateau at the Winter Games in Calgary, Canada, in 1988, with what I understand was their first Olympic Pin Trading tent (a program replicated at most, if not all, of the Games since). They even had "Coke Olympic City" in downtown Atlanta in 1996 (now site of the new World of Check-Out-Our-120-Years-of-Advertising Museum beside the Georgia Aquarium).

I don't play favorites when it comes to soda -- most major, and sometimes regional, brands are often inside my refrigerator (at this very moment I'm drinking a delicious cola with a five-letter name that starts with "P" and sort-of rhymes with "Dizzy Gillespie" -- a client of the firm where I work) . If someone could just come up with official Olympic root beer (like this one), I'd be set.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wake Up ... Time to Cry

One of my mother's favorite music videos (and one of my favorite tunes) -- "Cry" by Godley and Creme -- came to mind when a friend sent word of a new Olympic film due out just in time for Beijing.

A major facial tissue sponsor of the 2008 Games is set to debut a documentary film titled "Let It Out - The Movie" very soon, apparently featuring some of the best (or at least most famous) tear-jerk moments of Olympic history. Their site for the trailer comes complete with interesting bells and whistles to engage fans or potential consumers. My eyes well up just looking at it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What About Bob?

One thing (among many) to love about the Atlanta Press Club is that if you attend one of their events at which a "national correspondent of _______" will attend, chances are very good you'll get to shake hands with that V.I.P.

Last's night's annual APC awards dinner afforded many in attendance some time to quiz Bob Edwards about his experiences at National Public Radio and his current gig with XM Satellite Radio.

When asked about his favorite Olympic interview memory, Edwards was quick to point out there were many Olympian interviews conducted over the years, but none he could recall taking place before or during a Games. Rather, "Usually only years later and after they had their memoirs out or something [similar]," said Edwards.

Though he did not mention a specific Olympic interview, there are several archived NPR interviews conducted by Edwards online, including one interview regarding the state of the Iraq Olympic team.

When asked about Beijing, Edwards said, "It will certainly be different [that other] Games," and that XM would not be sending staff members to China.

Edwards' prepared remarks at the sold out APC event included other Q&A about his tenure and departure from NPR, the state of journalism (and the march towards citizen journalism) and the extent to which XM Satellite Radio is similar to not-for-profit radio (he joked that with XM breaking even for many consecutive years, it's not exactly 'for profit' either).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blame Canada


"You're going to China on vacation, right?!" was the question posed by a colleague.
Reply, with smile: "Not exactly!"


As a part deux of work that began in Torino in 2006, for 30 days I'll be in Beijing for a client of Edelman public relations, home for the last nine-and-a-half years of my career. As in Italy's northern metropolis, while in Beijing my host (and media relations assignment) is with client The Province of British Columbia, and more specifically B.C. Canada Pavilion (be sure to watch the video!).


In Torino, the Province built the hugely successfuly B.C. Canada Place "log cabin" on an urban piazza not far from the Shroud of Turin (the lines at B.C.C.P. were affectionately nicknamed "The Crowd of Turin"). In the Chinese capitol, the Province took over part of a museum adjacent to Tiananmen Square, and I'll be spending time with many of the Canadian friends met in 2006, as well as colleagues/friends from Edelman Vancouver and Edelman Beijing. B.C.C.P in China is one of several Olympic clients for the firm, most of which are part of Edelman Sports (we're just one big happy Edelman Olympic Family with several folks bound for the Olympic City).


The B.C.C.P. setup is a bit different for the summer Games, but I'm sure we'll find time to fit in a game of street hockey, and hopefully host some of Canada's favorite sons and daughters (shaking hands with Alanis, Celine, Leonard, Avril or Alex would be very interesting, but impossible to top Tom Green's visit in '06 -- no, this was not my video, but his appearance on The Tonight Show from the B.C.C.P. was hilarious yet not available online).
Our mission is to tell plenty of B.C. Stories and get business, tourists and Olympic fans to experience all the Province will offers before, during and after the 2010 Winter Games.

No vacation, but definitely a pleasure to be back in the company of red & white-clad friends.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oscar Loves The Olympics

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been kind to films with Olympic themes.

Oscar smiled four times on one of my all-time favorite films, "Chariots of Fire" (to paraphrase Second City Television/SCTV's 1981 spoof, "More than a soundtrack"). Two major releases of the last 10 years also spotlighted the 1972 Games, with a best documentary Oscar to "One Day In September" (outstanding -- and the entire film is available on YouTube) and nominations for Steven Spielberg's "Munich" (which, by the way, is a high-budget REMAKE of a lesser known 1980s TV film on the same topic, "Sword of Gideon." ).

Other summer Olympic films of note, though not close to Oscar, include "Jim Thorpe - All American" and "Tokyo Olympiad." The 1936 feature documentary "Olympia" by Leni Riefenstahl, did not qualify for a gold statue, but it did win an honorary gold medal from the International Olympic Committee, according to the director's official website.

By my count, more feature films are out there regarding the Winter Olympics (though Oscar has been icy to these titles): "Cool Runnings," "Ice Castles," (OK, this one WAS nominated for Best Song ... you know the song, right?) "The Cutting Edge," and even "Blades of Glory" each had five-ring connections (some with better results than others).

It came as no surprise when someone told me that even James Bond has an Olympic connection. In "Goldfinger" that derby-clad Odd Job was played by Olympic Silver Medalist Harold Takata.
And who could forget Roger Moore's Olympic venues chase scene in "For Your Eyes Only" filmed at Cortina D'Ampezzo, host of the 1956 Winter Olympics?

Should be interesting to see how often these titles (summer Games films in particular) show up on cable during Beijing, or whether PBS replays "16 Days of Glory" by Bud Greenspan on their programming.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"I Will Stand" for Chicago 2016

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Associated Press, NBC 5 in Chicago (great video) and several other outlets, on July 14 Chicagoans turned out and chipped in up to $12 million in support of the city's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games. It was a bit of extended celebration of the city making the latest IOC downsizing of the candidate pool. Man, I wish I had been there! They even debuted a new bid song titled "I Will Stand."

To me, Chicago is a perfect candidate. I've grown to love the city's rich history of commerce, architecture, sports and culture. My count on visits to The Windy City for fun (starting with a quick walk downtown during a Union Station layover heading east to New York on Amtrak, to most recent July 4 Weekend/Taste of Chicago holiday weekend with my girlfriend) is approaching a couple dozen. It would be remarkable for world visitors to experience the Games and all the city has to offer.

The other 2016 bid cities have a lot going for them, too. Madrid has got the goods, but with 2012 in London, the European proximity may sway votes to other candidates based on geography. Tokyo hosted in 1964 and has an amazing list of credentials (I believe it is currently the favorite on GamesBids.com, which tracks the competition). Rio has a potential advantage since the Games have not yet visited South America and this is the city's fourth attempt to win the bid (and the scenery would be an amazing postcard for the Olympics -- the city's heavy crime rate seems to be an Achilles' Heel for this bid, however).

The big vote is not until 2 October 2009, so there's plenty of time to speculate. Curious what other cities folks would like to see as future candidates (this week's announcement that Munich is giving it a shot for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games was very cool).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hello from Atlanta

It's been years since someone first explained to me what a blog is, and many times the urge to start one has been on the brain. Today, with just a few weeks to go before the Beijing Olympic Games, finally making it happen.

The process actually began in Jan. 2008, with the best of intentions for a six-month countdown to the 8-8-08 at 8 p.m. Opening Ceremony in China. Then there were false starts in April (admittedly, I procrastinated until the Olympic Torch Relay reached San Francisco, only to wind up scrapping things when the relay route changed, causing an exhausting chase across the city in pursuit of seeing The Flame). Then summer work and travel kicked into high gear -- all good things, but it's not easy keeping up with the constant stream of Olympic news and updates available online!

Hopefully this blog will help many folks access some useful information on the Olympic Movement, and learn a thing or two (will post some Olympic Trivia from time to time), or keep up with the action in China as time permits me to post it. Thank you for visiting and sharing your Olympic stories, too.

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