LILLEHAMMER IN '94
The biggest surprise to come out of Seoul last week was the awarding of the 1994 Winter Games to tiny Lillehammer, Norway, a farming community of 22,000. The selection was interpreted by many observers as a sign that the International Olympic Committee is trying to pull in the reins on expansion. "We have to take some measures because we are growing too quickly," said IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, of Spain.
But the reasons for choosing Lillehammer were not that simple. The choice was something of a personal defeat for Samaranch, who favored Sofia, Bulgaria, as host for the first of the staggered Olympics. (Beginning in 1994, the Summer and Winter Olympics will no longer be held in the same year.)
According to IOC insiders, Sofia was eliminated on the first vote either because of a backlash against the pushiness of Sofia's lobbyists or because of a vengeful consortium of Latin American countries. The Latin Americans were upset because a South Korean had been elected to fill a spot on the IOC executive board previously held by a Brazilian.
Anchorage, Alaska, was dumped on the second vote. It seems that some IOC members were put off by the fact that they saw only a videotape of President Reagan speaking on behalf of the U.S. candidate; Norway had sent Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland to Seoul to lobby in person, and Sweden had dispatched King Carl XVI Gustaf to sing the praises of �stersund.
Lillehammer won out over �stersund, 45 to 39. No one was more shocked by that outcome than the Norwegians. Indeed, when Norwegian journalist Espen Hansen walked the streets of Lillehammer a week before the IOC vote, he found only one person who liked the idea of hosting the Olympics. "The rest didn't care," he said. "Apathy."
To many observers, though, the Games need Lillehammer more than Lillehammer needs the Games. The growth of the Olympics in recent years has made them more hectic and less fun than they once were. Said Rick Nerland of the Anchorage delegation, "I think the old guys wanted to send a message: 'Let's get back to our roots.' "
THE WRATH OF GRAPES
Splat! Paul Tavilla, 54, of Arlington, Mass., stood at the base of Boston's 60-story John Hancock Tower on Sept. 3 with his neck bent back as grapes rained down around him at an estimated speed of 110 mph.
Some of the black ribier grapes hit the building on the way down. Quite a few exploded on the concrete around Tavilla. Finally, after some 70 grapes had been dropped by Russell Hagopian, his dentist son-in-law, Tavilla caught one in his mouth, and 100 spectators burst into applause.