PHOENIX, Arizona, October 26. AT a press conference in Beijing, the International Olympic Committee approved a final version of the competition schedule with swimming finals in the morning, according to reports by the Associated Press. Also, the IOC will increase doping tests at the Beijing Games to 4,500, a 25-percent rise over the amount done in Athens.
After contentious rounds of negotiating both behind closed doors and through various media outlets in the world, the IOC decided to comply with a request made by NBC-TV that finals be swum in the morning. This schedule will allow the United States public to see finals live in prime-time viewing, and will protect the $3.55 billion investment NBC made for the broadcast rights from 2000-08.
Many of the world of swimming's heaviest hitters have weighed in on the morning finals topic:
Pierre Lafontaine, Swimming Canada CEO/National Coach:
Swimming Canada is not necessarily enthused with the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to host the swimming finals in the morning during the 2008 Beijing Championships however now that we have confirmation, we can move forward with the preparation of our athletes.
As a team, we are taking all measures to adapt to this new environment. With 93 weeks, 651 days left before the start of the 2008 Olympic Games, we will continue to follow the plan set out since the IOC's mention of changing the swimming schedule to morning finals. In order to ensure that our athletes are 100 percent ready to face the World, we will continue to bring our best coaches together as well as experts in other fields to make certain that we have the best mechanisms in place for our athletes' preparation. We have approached specialists from other sports that compete in morning finals such as our National rowing program and have gained great insight on how they train.
Also, this change in schedule is a great opportunity for all athletes in the country to understand that swimming fast despite the time of day, is a must in this competitive world of swimming. In the end, I believe that the best swimmers will conquer whether or not they swim finals in the morning or at night.
David Sparkes, British Swimming Chief Executive:
We're very disappointed – it's clearly a decision the IOC may come to regret. It's clearly one the IOC may come to regret in time. However, I'm sure that Britain's athletes will respond to the challenge as will all swimmers worldwide. I now look forward to sharing British success in 2008 with the British public over their breakfast cereals.
Bill Sweetenham, British Swimming National Performance Director:
Common sense sometimes doesn't prevail but whatever the conditions we have a group of athletes and coaches that can meet them head on. We'll adapt to the environment as a team and I'm confident this won't effect our Olympic performance.
Alan Thompson, Australian Head Coach:
The only thing that gets me cranky is that (the IOC) have made the decision for commercial reasons, not for the good of the sport.
Hein Verbruggen, Head of IOC's Coordination Commission:
One speaks of one or two sports, but in the end it's about 28 sports. Such a schedule is a matter of discussion with the host country, the broadcasters and the federations. … What comes out of it is a compromise.
Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director:
This is a great opportunity for our sport to be showcased to the North American television audience during the first nine days of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The live prime time exposure is something that can only benefit the sport of swimming, and enhance the public profile of our sport's top athletes. The IOC's decision to announce this nearly two years prior to the Olympic Games ensures a level playing field for all athletes. No matter what the schedule, our athletes will be ready to swim their best when their best is needed.
SwimmingWorldMagazine.com wants to know our readers' thoughts on this move. In the coming days, we will let the world know what our readers think on the change. Please e-mail Jason Marsteller and include your first name and location as well as permission to publish your response.