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While it's true that the LAOOC has only about 30 official sponsors and about 50 licensees or suppliers—compared, for example, to 381 for the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games—Los Angeles' total take is far larger than that of any previous Olympics, and the role of the sponsors is far greater. For instance, Southland Corp., owner of the 7-Eleven stores, wanted to build something as part of being the—get this—official convenience food store of the L.A. Games. Trouble was, Southland didn't have the foggiest notion of what it wanted to build. When Ueberroth first mentioned the construction of the Olympic velodrome, Southland president Jere Thompson says he "didn't even know what a velodrome was." But the company agreed to put up $4 million to build one, which will belong to Cal State-Dominguez Hills, where it's located, after the Games.
McDonald's built the swimming and diving stadium on the USC campus. Atlantic Richfield refurbished the Coliseum and donated a new track there, along with seven training tracks around the city. Buick donated automobiles for the committee's use. Xerox gave copiers. Brother Industries, Ltd. gave typewriters. The list goes on and on.
But there's also a reverse side. Becoming an official Olympic product, with the right to use the Olympic logo and mascot, Sam the Olympic Eagle, in advertising, doesn't mean the quality of the product or its wholesomeness has been certified by the LAOOC; it simply means the firm has been willing to pay the most money in its product category. The Los Angeles Olympics won't have an official whiskey or an official cigarette, but there's an official beer company, Anheuser-Busch, and the LAOOC has been roundly criticized, for nutritional reasons, for allowing M&M/Mars, the candy company, to become the official snack-foods manufacturer of the Games.
All the new facilities, including temporary ones such as the rowing and the canoeing courses 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, have either already been finished on time and within budget, or will be ready soon. When cracks were found in the velodrome, committee officials took a firm position and got their way: The outfit that built it would make the repairs at its own expense.
Some of Ueberroth's executive policies—what one concerned executive board member calls his "confrontationist tactics with nearly everyone and everything"—are a matter of internal dispute and are demoralizing to some LAOOC staffers. But few would deny that, in virtually all things the committee can control, the preparations for the Games seem well in hand, and that barring unforeseen political developments, the 1984 Olympics will be a success.
The LAOOC's relatively few disputes with the IOC, notably over whether drug testing was to be expanded and about where to locate the shooting venue, have been settled in the last year, generally in accord with the IOC's wishes, but not at immense cost.
On drugs, the LAOOC put up a fight for a while against testosterone and caffeine testing on the grounds that its reliability wasn't proved and that trying to implement such tests might lead to litigation with athletes. But the head of the IOC's medical commission, Prince Alexandre de Merode of Belgium, prevailed. At a Nov. 10 New York meeting with de Merode and IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain, Ueberroth was, by his own account, simply ordered to give in on the matter. That may not be bad for the LAOOC, because the expanded testing makes it seem that the Olympics are taking a tougher stand on drugs, a widely popular position.
The case of the shooting venue wasn't so easily resolved. Ueberroth and Usher both had said privately on numerous occasions that they really didn't care whether the L.A. Olympics included shooting or not. Though the U.S. figures to clean up in the sport, it's hardly a spectator draw, nor will it get high TV ratings. Besides, Usher, a gun-control advocate, wasn't well-disposed toward the National Rifle Association, the governing body in the U.S. for the sport.
For months, the Los Angeles officials seemed to be stalling. They stuck with one shooting site, in rural Orange County, long after it became apparent that the venue wasn't suitable. Then the LAOOC proposed a Las Vegas site—the Caesars Palace hotel parking lot—that from the start was anathema to the IOC. It felt Las Vegas was too far from Los Angeles, too hot and too risqué. The IOC executive board informed Ueberroth in January 1983 that Vegas was unacceptable. But 2½ months later, at the annual IOC meeting in New Delhi, Usher was still trying to peddle it. He told the committee, "We're unable to locate a shooting site in Los Angeles. We've looked at and studied 55 prospective sites and regret to say none is acceptable. Whether one exists, we do not know...." He sounded firm. The implication was: Take Las Vegas or forget shooting. Perhaps he felt the IOC would forget it.
But Samaranch wasn't so easily discouraged. "I took a strong stand, telling him [Usher] that they must organize the shooting in the Los Angeles area," says Samaranch. "It's intolerable to us to think that the Games would be held without shooting." Samaranch, a diplomat by profession, doesn't often use such explicit language in public.