Monday, August 31, 2009

Munich 2018 Olympic Bid Interview

My employer, Edelman, offers some nice perks in appreciation of longtime employees. For one's 10th anniversary with the company, for example, a three-week paid sabbatical/holiday is bestowed. It sure was nice to hit the "official" anniversary earlier this year, and start with a blank slate for potential destinations for a holiday.

While beach time was on my mind, the No. 1 priority -- travel wise -- was easy to name: Munich. This is the city where, as they say, "it all began" for me, possibly in a literal sense as my parents were honeymooning in the 1972 Olympic City just before the Games, and I arrived on the scene nine months later (May 1973).

That's right ... I may be a Munich Olympic baby.

Since my high school days, and looking closely at some of my parents' photos from their own European adventure (including snapshots from their visit to the Olympic Tower in Munich), I had planned, and postponed, and planned again (and delayed ... again, several times repeated) trips to Bavaria. For the sabbatical, it seemed fitting to finally make it there.

Munich is amazing. I'll work to write about the many Olympic connections explored there -- most old (as in Vintage '72) and some new but inspired by the spirit of the XXth Olympiad at Munich.

Before looking to the past, I'm posting tonight about some potential future for Munich's Olympic legacy: specifically, the Munich 2018 Olympic Winter Games bid.

While in Germany, I took time to look up the Munich bid committee, which recently set up shop in an industrial park only a few hundred meters west of the vast Munich Olympiapark (well, it's probably more than a kilometer, but the Olympiastadion to the east is so vast, it seems closer).

With sincere thanks to the communications team and the Muenchen 2018's executive team, their office made time for me to sit down with Mr. Richard Adam, joint director of the Munich 2018 Bid Committee. The video with this post includes details on the Munich 2018 bid program, which is very new (the IOC process to select the 2018 host city has only just begun this summer).

It was surprising to learn Mr. Adams' candor about the 1972 Munich Olympic tragedy, and how many in the city, if not all of Germany, wish to write a new Olympic chapter for the region -- as a manner of moving on while remaining respectful to the victims from Sept. 5, 1972.

Some interesting notes from the Munich 2018 press kit and conversation (off camera) with Mr. Adam include:
  • Katerina Witt, the figure skating Olympic champion, is the newly named chair of the Munich 2018 board of trustees. Witt's quote in a recent Munich 2018 press release states, "[The] Olympics have been a key feature in my life ... I have taken part in three Olympic Winter Games, and personally experienced the power of sports of bringing people together. This is why I support, with all my heart, the commitment to bringing the first Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to our reunited Germany."

  • Munich's joint bid includes the 1936 Winter Olympic site, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Alpine village south of Munich -- they refer to this as a "two-cluster concept" for the bid, with the urban "Ice Cluster" in Munich (mostly at Olympiapark) and the "Snow Cluster" at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Sliding events (bobsleigh, skeleton and luge) would be held in Schonau am Koningssee in the Berchtesgadener Land (I am scrambling for an atlas). The medals plaza would be in Central Munich beside the Town Hall (see map at top of this post).

  • A key component and plus for the bid is the sustainability tied to the '72 Olympiapark. Several venues there -- designed to last the ages (they have held up very well) -- have been "embraced over the decades [more] than any other Olympic facility and thus constitutes a major symbol of sustainability," according to the bid press kit.
  • As in 1972, the athlete village and media centre would be adjacent to the Olympiapark, in new facilities to be converted to urban housing post-Games (the 1972 Olympic Village fulfilled its purpose as a very early "Green Games" construction project as the now-37-year-old Village is fully-occupied residential apartments covered with lush planters and trees growing out of several multi-level planters).

More information is available at

Images via

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Olympics May Link Rings to Golf

Hello from Germany! Posting from the Four Points Sheraton at Munich´s Olympic Village (the hotel was literally part of the 1972 Olympic Village) across the highway from the Munich OlympiaPark, which includes the spectacular Olympic Stadium, Olympic Tower (still coming to türms as I see it each morning) and the big pool where Mark Spitz made history. Olympic history overload, actually (more to come in future posts).

Just wanted to get a few links up from today´s International Olympic Committee announcement of some potential sports to be added to the Olympic program, including GOLF! The announcement was made at IOC meetings in Berlin (what the heck am I doing in Munich?!).

Here is the IOC press release, and here is a USA Today news article by Jerry Potter that sums up the story nicely with some remarks on Olympic golf from Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington.

This isn´t the first time golf has been up for Olympic consideration (as noted in Potter´s article, golf was on the 1904 Olympic roster in St. Louis).

As I recall, there was much ado about the Atlanta Games (and Billy Payne, specifically -- former ACOG founder turned Augusta National leader post-1996) trying to add golf to the Olympic programme (when I was working on the ACOG archive in 1997, I recall taking a few practice swings with an ACOG-produced golf club infused with the Olympic rings -- guessing that golf club remains in a vault somewhere, or in Billy Payne´s office).

Rugby is also up for consideration, like golf, for the 2016 Olympic Games.

More to come from Munich, and from Lausanne (heading there this weekend). Auf Wiedersehen!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

John Hughes, RIP

Another '80s icon now gone ... sad to learn of John Hughes' death today.

Just the other day, was commenting to a friend about how Hughes' films taught me much of my introductions, and re-introductions, to Greater Chicago -- so many scenes from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" became destinations visited numerous times.

"Planes, Trains & Automobiles" taught me about O'Hare and airport car rentals.

"Vacation" (the first Hughes film I screened ... also the first Beta videotape I ever rented) showcased the start of Route 66.

One summer, the neighbor kids, my sister and I must have watched "The Breakfast Club" more than 100 times.

And more recently, "She's Having A Baby" offered a peek at the suburban commute around the Windy City. The older I get, the more I can relate to Kevin Bacon's character in this one!

Hughes' favorite music became part of the soundtracks for these and many other films, and those soundtracks became the tunes of my youth (and since).

I was secretly hoping that Hughes would make another great Chicago-based film that somehow centered on the 2016 Chicago Olympic bid (or the city ultimately winning the Games hosting duties). Here's hoping the city may honor Hughes in some manner at the 2016 Cultural Olympiad, when the time comes.

John Hughes, R.I.P.

Photo via

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"The Snakehead"

Driving home this evening, it hit me that this Saturday, 08-08-09 marks just one year since the 2008 Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony. Whew! What a year!

And during the drive home, on the NPR and WHYY program "Fresh Air With Terry Gross" (aired in Atlanta on WABE-FM) the program featured an interview with Patrick Radden Keefe, author of a new book titled "The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream."

The text is centered around an entrepreneurial woman who made millions smuggling people into the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s. My interest was piqued while listening, and will have to check it out soon.

Meanwhile, the AFP today ran an update on the Beijing Olympic venues and how they are being put to use (or not) in the 2008 Olympic city.

I think the one-year mark is premature to nickname the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium a "white elephant." It is going to take time to determine the right mix of events to host there, but eventually these decisions will be made and the stadium will be put to good use.

For comparison, look at the 1972 Munich Olympic stadium, the architectural wonder of its time (and of all time). This time next week, I aim to tour this 37 year old stadium, which now features a rooftop walking tour, a regular mix of sport and cultural events and other gatherings (in two weeks, Madonna will perform there -- perhaps she may add Beijing to the tour schedule).

Book image via

More News From Back Home

On the heels of posting about the new U.S.O.C.-designated Olympic and Paralympic facilities in Oklahoma City, I just read Brian Barber's report in the Tulsa World and on that this northeastern Oklahoma metropolis has a small team that wants to pursue a 2020 Olympic Bid.

[insert "Huh?!" and "Come again?" or "Oh, really?" and head scratching motion here]

Tulsa is an interesting city with historic downtown and riverfront districts, lots of art deco architecture (if memory serves me, Preservation magazine reported Tulsa has one of the biggest collections of art deco buildings outside of Miami) and a solid business school.

The news reports quote the bid team's comparison of Tulsa in 2009 to Atlanta in 1990, when the Southeastern city made a run for the Games. This is a good foundation for stating their case, but one must stop and think about the scale and sales tactics of the 2016 Chicago Olympic bid and wonder how the Tulsa bid team is going to present its case against recent (and potentially 2020 fellow bid) U.S. cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Windy City in the event that come Oct. 2, the International Olympic Committee picks Madrid, Tokyo or Rio de Janeiro over Chicago.

But I don't want to be a naysayer for Tulsa ... kudos to their team for giving it a try and bringing an interesting idea to the Olympic news cycle.

Here's a link to the Tulsa Olympic feasibility study, for those who are intrigued -- someone on that Tulsa bid team must have some P.R. background given their slide about potential publicity from just attempting a bid. Today's 200+ comments on the Tulsa World site and in other news outlets are indicative people are certainly talking.

People talking ... I've heard that one before, in relation to Oklahoma. I think Hannibal Lecter said it, too, many years later.

From my view, the Tulsa bid team could strengthen their presentation by adding the U.S. Olympic Festival '89 (Oklahoma City) legacies to their deck; they also need to look closer at how many XX thousand hotel rooms would need to be created in Tulsa and Oklahoma -- this could be a big Achilles Heel for their efforts (cruise ships on the river ... OK, it's been done before). The Olympic Flame has been through Tulsa a time or two ... perhaps they can find some archived photos of Torch Relays through the city. The wheels are turning.

Anyone out there ever been to Tulsa? Please share your Tulsa stories.

News From Back Home

Last week in my home state Oklahoma, the U.S. Olympic Committee and local officials announced that Oklahoma City and suburban Edmond, Okla. (my hometown), now each have official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Sites.

According to the U.S.O.C. press release, the "Oklahoma River south of downtown Oklahoma City, in partnership with the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, [is now] an official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site for rowing and canoe/kayak. The University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla., already a Paralympic site, added the Olympic designation to become an official site for volleyball, archery and Paralympic sports."
The Daily Oklahoman did a nice job covering the event with a report and video by Mike Baldwin. I've been scanning the coverage but yet to determine whether Clay Bennett, owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was in attendance at the festivities (it seems appropriate he'd be in on site given his past work with the U.S.O.C.).

This is great news for Oklahoma and the athletes who will train there. Both of the newly designated venues are tied back to U.S. Olympic Festival '89 (for which Bennett was executive director 20 years ago), the between-the-Olympiads U.S. Olympic event that landed in OKC for 10 great days -- lots of memories volunteering with USOF-89, which kick-started my Olympic interests.

At the USOC ceremony by the Oklahoma River, Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner, who is based in Oklahoma, said, “We [OKC] hosted the United States Olympic Festival in 1989 and we have never hesitated to support United States Olympic and Paralympic athletes and the values they stand for – excellence, discipline, the spirit of fair play. I am so proud of what we have achieved through MAPs to transform our community and put us in a position to receive Olympic Training Site designations. The future is bright and today’s announcement is only the beginning of great things to come.”

Bravo, OKC!

Photo provided by the University of Central Oklahoma press office. Photo includes, from left, U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Stephanie Streeter, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and UCO Executive Vice President and Vice President for Administration Steve Kreidler.

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