Saturday, June 20, 2009

So Money, Baby!

Though their website does not seem to have it archived, NPR aired a "Morning Edition" report this week during which they reported news from BOCOG (Beijing's Olympic organizing committee) -- in spite of their carmine-hued national flag and gargantuan spending/budgets, China's Games emerged in the black with a whopping $176 million profit.

According to the Associated Press, some of this profit is to be attributed to hefty sales of souvenirs, coins and stamps.


Reading that stamps helped clear BOCOG of decades of debt made me chuckle as it was like searching for a needle in a haystack to find a post office, let alone collectible philatelic items, in Beijing!

During my month-long Games assignment last year, we encountered only two post offices -- both temporary counters set up for international visitors -- with one each at the Beijing International Media Center (BIMC ... short for "you couldn't get IOC accreditation consolation destination") and one in the massive Main Press Center/International Broadcast Center (MPC/IBC). They did have some interesting postal collectibles. But not enough stamps were moving to explain even a small percentage of Beijing's reported Games profit (thinking there was one person in line mailing a post card -- everyone else was e-mailing home, methinks).

Speaking of their profits, Beijing's results are right up there with another most profitable Olympic enterprise: The Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad at Los Angeles. Almost 25 years ago the City of Angels welcomed the world with tremendous success, to the tune of a $235 million profit, according to the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games (SCCOG).

Their site details how this tremendous financial windfall created a vast Olympic legacy enjoyed over the last 25 years (and for the foreseeable future).

In just a few weeks, SCCOG and the L.A. Sports Council are throwing a party to celebrate "LA84-XXV" -- the 25th anniversary of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

It hardly seems possible it's been a quarter of a century since the grand Opening Ceremonies, and this celebration on the floor of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. David Wolper (the man who brought dozens of grand pianos out of nowhere into the stadium -- the single moment that got me hooked on the Games) is the producer of the evening's festivities to commence July 18. They even got the Millennium Biltmore Hotel to roll back prices to $84 per night for the weekend!

My hope is that timing will permit travel to the LA84-XXV gathering, and will certainly blog about it more. Anyone else going? If so, drop me a line and we'll get toast the Games inside the 1932 and 1984 Olympic palace.

We'll also have to do the same at the Bird's Nest in 2033 -- marking calendar now to dust off Olympic stamp collection then, too.

Credit: Bird's Nest photo via; LA Memorial Coliseum photo via SCCOG; Monopoly card via Parker Brothers and

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