Part II of our candid conversation with USOC chief
Posted: Thursday February 23, 2006 11:23AM; Updated: Thursday February 23, 2006 1:25PM
A former Olympic wrestler, Jim Scherr has the U.S. team headed in the right direction.
Brian Cazeneuve will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
On Wednesday we began our conversation with United States Olympic Committee CEO Jim Scherr, who discussed the state of the Olympic Games and what's ahead. Click here for Part I.
SI.com: Was the loss of baseball and softball a slap at the U.S.?
Scherr: I don't think it was directed as a slap at the United States. The sports are viewed as U.S. sports, though really softball isn't. And baseball is very popular in South America and Asia. But they're not Central European sports, and the IOC is dominated by Central Europe. Baseball had some issues within the sport that the IOC took exception to: the doping issue, the fact that you didn't have the best players on the world stage, the cost of the venues. Hopefully they'll get an opportunity to stay on the program for London, but it will be very difficult.
SI.com: What about another U.S. city being put forth to host the Games? And what did you think of New York's bid?
Scherr: I thought New York's plan to stage the Games was a very good one. We will admit the stadium issue had a significant impact. It's unfortunate because it overshadowed the work of a lot of people on the New York bid. Whether they could have prevailed had that not happened is doubtful. As we go forward, we want to look at how to make as level a playing field as possible for a U.S. city prior to bidding. And there are just some factors in the bid process that create an unlevel playing field for a U.S. city. We have to solve the revenue-share issue between the USOC and the IOC before we put another city forward. And then we have the visa issue with the United States and free transfer of citizens in the United States, and that impacts the bid. And the worldview of the United States is something that impacts a potential bid, and that will change before this next bid is voted on. We want to get some of those issues addressed before we consider another bid.
SI.com: What did you think about the decision of the Chinese and Russian Olympic committees to share some resources in an effort to win the medal count in Beijing in 2008 at the expense of the U.S.?
Scherr: The Chinese have an incredibly strong desire to perform well in the Games. I think their primary goal is to win the gold medal count, and then to win the total medal count would be a bonus. So they're going to utilize every resource they can to accomplish that. They will also partner with others to help them in that endeavor. The fact that the press reports came out that this was pointed directly at the U.S. gave us some cause for concern, because that would run counter to the ideals of fair play and sportsmanship in the movement. The Chinese assured us very quickly that that was not their intent and the Russians overcommunicated what they were doing. Bilateral agreements between countries are pretty common. We have one we hope to be signing soon with the Chinese ourselves. The Chinese will try to beat us and the Russians will try to beat us in Beijing, and I think that's healthy for the Olympic movement and for us to see where we should direct our resources, as long as it's within the realm of fair competition.