Dispatches > The Buzz

Olympic effort

AUSTRALIA AND NBC GEAR FOR SUMMER GAMES

Issue: "Locking up the big guns," Aug. 12, 2000

With only about a month to go until the Olympics, the clamor of globosport is rising to its inevitable scream. Yet as the torch races across Australia, those in Sydney seem pretty indifferent. Compared to the insanity that struck Atlanta four years ago, the city is downright peaceful. In fact, half a million plan to leave town and escape the crowds.

Australian Rules football and rugby are all the rage down under, where $1.92 billion was spent on a construction program to get Sydney ready for the games. The Olympics will still take some time to heat up.

"People from overseas are more excited. People here are not that excited yet," Bondi Beach ice cream shop worker Maria Nori said. "I'm excited because I love volleyball. But I haven't heard anything here about the Olympics."

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Once the Sydney games are over, the torch passes back to America for the Salt Lake City winter games in 2002. This means that organizers still have months to push the bribery scandal that rocked the city's selection from people's minds.

Here in the United States, the 2000 Games will be a TV bombardment. NBC paid $705 million for exclusive rights and plans to use every penny of its investment. The TV extravaganza will even delay the start of this year's fall TV schedule from September to October. Nielsen Media Research made this decision last spring (to NBC's chagrin) so that the Olympics would not distort the usual ratings race. The down-side of this is that the current snore season of summertime reruns will carry on a few weeks more.

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