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February 08, 2002 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-02-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

r
8, 2002 -12

FRIDAY Focus

The Michigan Daily - Friday, February

40

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BY ANNA CLARKAND MARIA SPROW
DAILY STAFF REPORTERS

It comes as no surprise to most that the events of
Sept. 11 are resulting in a heavy increase in security at
the Olympic. Although security is typically tight at the
Games, the massive force in Salt Lake City has sur-
passed almost every other security effort in history. In
fact, the extensive security measures prompted Home-
land Security Chief Tom Ridge to call Salt Lake City
the safest place in the world right now.
Linda, a representative of the Joint Information Cen-
ter who asked that her last name be withheld, said the
government is pursuing "every type of security you
can imagine and some you can't imagine."
The new security measures include more than
10,000 on-location security personal, 4,500 of them
from the military and National Guard. Also, airspace
above Salt Lake City and other Olympic venues is
restricted until Feb. 24. All spectators have to go
through metal detectors before attending an event, and
cameras have been placed all over the Olympic
grounds.
Seth Cook, a former Ann Arbor resident who cur-
rently grooms snowboarding trails for Olympic com-
petition, said he doesn't know of many people who
actually feel scared.
"There's definitely talk of concern, but I don't know
of people avoiding anything," Cook said.
University of Utah graduate student Robert
McDaniel said the community is more excited than
anything else. With February classes canceled for ele-
mentary through college students, community resi-
dents have an opportunity to volunteer and work for
the Games. But McDaniel did know a few people who
were leaving the Salt Lake City area "either because
it's too crowded or because they think some terrorist
event is going to happen."
With the Secret Service in charge of Olympic secu-
rity, the government is working hard to quell any fears
people might have. According to a statement issued by
the White House, "Security for these Winter Games
will be more thorough, more visible, better planned
and better coordinated than any Olympics in history."
The statement went on to say that "We will show the
world we can safeguard the Olympic ideal without sac-
rificing our American ideals - openness, mobility,
diversity and economic opportunity in the process."
The total cost of security for the Games is an esti-
mated $300 million, but security personnel have been
careful to not make any pricetag guarantees.
Still, this $300 million pales next to the $48 billion
increase President Bush asked for in defense funds, a
part of which will be used during the Games. Though
a cease-fire is usually sought during the Olympic
Games in order to promote unity among nations, Pen-
tagon officials said there will be no cease-fire during
the war on terrorism.
"The idea behind an act like that, to foster peace and
unity, is commendable and it would be great," said
Pentagon spokesman Dan Philbin.
"But as of now, we see no indication that they are
willing to do that and we do not have plans to do that
on our side, either," Philbin added. Philbin noted that a
cease-fire is not called for because the war is against
al-Qaida, not actually against Afghanistan.
"They do not represent a standing army that repre-
sents any nation state on the planet," he said. "It's kind
of hard to have a cease-fire on a terrorist organization."
A CONTESTED GAMES

Although the planning for 2002 Games was quickly
consumed in controversy, the original problems have
seemingly vanished as the Olympic spectacle builds.
The Olympic scandal hit three years ago when for-
mer IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch was
accused of accepting bribes from cities vying to host
the Games. An investigation found that Salt Lake City
officials offered the IOC more than $1 million in cash
and other prizes, including college scholarships to the
University of Utah.
The bribe left the commission in chaos and eventual-
ly instigated the firing of 10 IOC members, including
Samaranch. A former Olympian from Belgium,
Jacques Rogge, took over the IOC leadership. In effort
to fully dispel the aura of suspicion over Salt Lake City,
city officials and
Olympic planners
began to construct (( (6
the most elaborate W it wit m m
Winter Games yet. 0
At an opening dmp, CUW't U I4tita WBn
address on Sunday,
Rogge said the scan- MgtJ, Wigt 6e tfM apC
dal was so important
that it almost Ct't4?It0fUJ, wFC . &f
destroyed the IOC.
He added that the WAtf& lie ipadh
accusations have -
caused him to re-
think the Games,
which he said have 'I
become too elitist
and large.
"We are endeavoring to reduce the size of the
Games to a more manageable level," Rogge said in a
public interview. "A reasonable size for the Games is
important because it must allow the continents that
support them to be able to host them."
If Rogge is fully successful in his mission to down-
size, the 2002 Olympic Games - with 2,400 athletes
and 78 events - will forever hold the record of being
the largest Winter Games in history.
TUNING IN
Even though the 2002 Games, dubbed by some the
Patriot Games, will be the largest Winter Olympic
spectacle yet, the relative lack of attention from the
press and fans have left some wondering what signifi-
cance the events really have.
University Prof. and sports expert Andrei Markovits
said that in the United States, the Winter Olympics are
almost unrelated to the sports involved.
"The Olympics in America are basically very unim-
portant," Markovits said. "Every four years, it becomes
important and the rest of the time is not. In the United
States, it will be a big event, it's a nice thing, but two or
three days after the event, other than one or two things
... nobody will talk about it."
Markovits said that generally, for the viewer, the
Olympics are merely a grand spectacle.
"Why is it that the largest viewership, other than
women's figure skating, will be the opening and clos-
ing ceremony, which has nothing to do with the
sport?" Markovits said. "The viewership next week
will be watching it because it's an event."
But Olympic gold medal swimmer Samantha Arse-
nault, an LSA sophomore, said that for the athletes
who compete in the Games, the Olympics are much

G

more than just another competition - they are a life-
long goal that takes years of extreme dedication.
"Leading into it, it's built up so much. Once in every
four years, it's highly publicized," Arsenault said. "But
these people have been working hard day in and day
out for the other three years also."
But the actual competition and the gold medal that
may follow it are inconsequential to what led up to it,
she said. "I'm not going to take away from that
moment because that was extremely special, but when
I think of the Olympics, I think of the whole year that
led up to it, training with my teams, the relationships
that you form."
Although Arsenault said she'd definitely be watch-
ing the Games this month, other University students
weren't so enthusiastic.
"I don't know the major
players involved," said Dave
t 1f 0WW 0t Sackett, an LSA senior. "I'd
have to be a pretty faithful
tenk 6 kwat- bobsled follower to know
, the athletes."
UUJ andi CSome say the lack of
public interest is due to less
26 to( do- dramatic competition.
After all, there are no
media-catching Tonya Hard-
ing-Nancy Kerrigan assaults.
& tmfetil't t A &WLt6 There are no three-time
Olympic heroes without
(fefs6t( p'w/f0r0/4 medals, like 1994 Olympic
speed skater Dan Jansen,
who fell twice in the 1988 Calgary games after finding
out his sister died and then fell again in the 500 meter
race at Lillehammer. Jansen finally won the gold and
broke the world record the same year during the
1000m race, an event considered to be his weak spot.
There are no tried-and-true champions like five-time
Olympic gold medallist Bonnie Blair.
Locally, there are no hometown athletes to support.
The University's participation in the Summer
Olympics has traditionally been strong -- at the 2000
summer games, 17 University students competed.
The Winter Olympics have never been a premier
attraction at the University, said Bentley Historical
Library assistant archivist Greg Kinney. While the
University has had more than 100 appearances in the
summer games, fewer than 10 University athletes have
ever competed in the Winter Games.
"It's mostly just because of the sports ... the Univer-
sity doesn't sponsor a ski team," he said, adding that
the University's greatest Olympic moments have been
in track and field and swimming.
"Probably the thing about Michigan that is unique is
that Michigan has had three track athletes that have
won both the gold and the silver in three different
Olympics in the 100 meter and 200 meter," he said.
"It's a unique accomplishment for any one school."
Despite the lack of University ties to the 2002
Olympics, Arsenault said there are still reasons to
watch the Games.
"I'm a huge fan of Picabo Street. She's one of the
most amazing athletes," said Arsenault. "During my
rehab I read her autobiography and she has overcome
so much," Arsenault continued, referring to her recent
shoulder injury. "Two years ago, (Street) shattered her
leg. She's a down-hill skier, and she's back. She's not
afraid to be herself either, I think that's great."

a

ABOVE: Ski jumper Alan Alborn of the United States takes a practice jump during
a training day for the K90 Individual ski jump at Utah Olympic Park in Park City,
Utah, yesterday. TOP: The Olympic cauldron sits in front of a mountain range near
an old Pony Express route just east of Fairfield, Utah on Wednesday for the Torch
Relay. The torch arrived in Salt Lake City yesterday.

LSA sophomore
Elise Ray, who
captained the U.S.
women's
gymnastics team in
the 2000 Olympic
Games held in
Sydney, now
competes for the
University. Ray, who
is recovering from
an ankle injury, has
taken a back seat
to other team
members but has
said she is saving
her energy for
Nationals.

H OME
TOWN
HEROES

0

PAST OLYMPIANS

I. ,1 L"I(, im'

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