On Sept. 30, tickets to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary were supposed to go on sale across North America. On that date Canadians would find official applications in major newspapers and at Royal Bank of Canada branches, and U.S. citizens would be able to pick them up in American Automobile Association offices. All ticket orders were to be handled through the mail on a first-come, first-served basis.
In the initial week of the public sale the Calgary Olympic Committee (OCO '88) received more than 60,000 orders for their 1.6 million tickets. But all of the applications were from Canadians. The U.S. part of the operation had become a mess. Now it has become a scandal.
For reasons that aren't yet clear, applications didn't reach AAA offices until Oct. 8. One report is that they were lost in a warehouse somewhere in New York City; a second is that there were errors in the printing; and now there's a rumor that the forms were intentionally withheld. This suspicion arises because some 8,000 Americans did receive ticket forms in time—from a Calgary-based organization called World Tickets Inc., which is 99% owned by OCO '88 ticket manager Jim McGregor. The WTI forms were mailed to prospective U.S. customers who had already shown an interest in the Games by contacting either the Calgary Tourist Bureau or the OCO itself. These targeted buyers, culled from tourist bureau and OCO lists, were mailed the somewhat suspicious WTI package: a plain brown envelope bearing no Olympic insignia and containing a pre-addressed return envelope and a ticket application that was a near replica of the official one. It differed in three crucial details: It demanded payment in U.S. dollars, by check or money order only, and only in the special WTI envelope. In fact, Calgary's ticket prices are in Canadian dollars, and credit cards are an acceptable method of payment.
Because the U.S. dollar is currently worth 38% more than the Canadian, whoever would receive the instantly redeemable payments to WTI would have cash worth 38% more than the actual cost of the tickets. And that would be a substantial pile of cash, since U.S. ticket sales are expected to range anywhere from $1 million to $5 million.
Last week the Calgary police started an investigation into the matter, and ticket manager McGregor, who is not commenting, suddenly was off on a one-month leave of absence. On Friday, OCO '88 won a court order allowing it to seize WTI's post office box and whatever ticket orders are already in it. Calgary officials said they will honor those orders and asked customers who sent checks to send new ones in Canadian dollars. Those who sent money orders will receive a rebate equal to the going exchange rate. And anyone smart enough to spot a scam and hold on to his money must now go to the end of the first-come, first-served line.
Last week the syndicate that owns 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed voted to move the horse from Spendthrift Farm to Calumet Farm, just down the road a piece in Lexington, Ky. A stall was cleared next to the living quarters of—you guessed it!—Alydar, the game rival who finished on Affirmed's heels in all three Triple Crown races. When Affirmed was led into his new domicile, Alydar peered through the bars between the stalls, then reared back and whinnied. "I really don't think they remember each other," said Calumet Farm president J.T. Lundy. "But let the nostalgia fans have their fun."
A SPOOKY STAT FOR HALLOWEEN
For reasons best understood by the company's promotions department, Timex has commissioned a poll of 1,000 Americans to determine the country's "attitude toward adventure." Among the findings: Twenty-one percent have participated in adventuresome sports activities in the last five years; men are more adventuresome than women; the West is slightly more adventuresome than other parts of the country. The final 48-page report, prepared by Research & Forecasts Inc., concludes that "Americans believe being adventurous means relying on one's own instincts and surviving natural elements." Well, not always natural. While only 5% of "adventuresome people" have tried hang gliding, only 3% have ridden camels and only 1% have gone on jungle treks, a full 7% of all respondents claim personal adventures with the occult.
FAIR HARVARD GETS SKUNKED
Cornell's teams visited Harvard last Saturday, and goose eggs were laid all over Greater Boston. The field-hockey game ended in a 0-0 double-overtime tie, as did the men's and women's soccer games. And Cornell's gridders beat Harvard 3-0, which marked the third straight time the Crimson has been shut out and the first time the varsity has suffered three scoreless games in a row since 1879.
ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING