By Phillip Whitten
MOSCOW, July 12. Tomorrow's the big day–the day when the IOC will choose the site for the 2008 Olympic Games and elect a new president to replace Juan Antonio Samaranch, who is retiring at 81 after a 21- year reign.
As we posted this story, Beijing was the favorite to win the right to host the 2008 Games, despite its abysmal human rights and doping records; Belgium's Jacques Rogge appeared to be leading in the battle to replace Big Juan. However, Korea's Kim Un-Yong was gaining momentum. Most IOC-watchers believe that if d Kim wins the presidency, it would hurt Beijing's chances to host the Games.
With one day to go, here's how the contests were shaping up:
THE FIVE CITIES IN CONTENTION FOR THE 2008 GAMES
Favored after missing out on the 2000 Olympics. Human rights abuses, widespread doping, pollution and scheduling for the Games broadcasters, NBC could hurt their chances. But Samaranch still nourishes his campaign for a Nobel Peace Prize and he sees China-2008 as his key. Marketeers are mesmerized by China's 1.2 billion potential consumers. Political issues such as human rights are not a factor," quoth Samaranch.
Probably the best all-around venue. With Beijing and Paris, has already passed the test of being able to offer an excellent technical bid. Clean and pleasant prospect. Hoping to secure enough switched votes to topple Beijing in a final vote-out, but hurt by malaproprism by mayor last week.
Hosted the Games in 1924. Has strong Government backing, and superb facilities, notably the Stade de
France. Hugely attractive venue for all IOC members. However, Europe is unlikely to get two Games in a row following Athens 2004.
Maximum commitment from politicians and public. But Athens' successful bid of 2004 virtually rules out their chances. Worries over lack of facilities, organizational problems, a failing economy and susceptibility to earthquakes, makes Istanbul a remote possibility at best.
Hi-tech venues spread over three man-made islands, but less impressive financial structures underpinning them. Less than fully committed public support or presentation commitment. An even longer shot than Istanbul.
THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: WHO'S THE NEW JUAN?
1. JACQUES ROGGE
The favorite. Able administrator, 59, with no negatives, he played key role in success of Sydney Games. An orthopedic surgeon, he speaks five languages and is a former world yachting champion, and Belgian rugby player. Managed to stay clean amid the IOC's corruption.
2. UN YONG KIM
Political powerhouse in South Korea who masterminded successful Seoul Games of 1988. His age, 70, may be a factor against him. The fact that he was nearly expelled from the IOC during the Salt Lake City corruption probe, will not. As election time nears, he appears to be picking up momentum. His platform:
restoring the practice of having IOC members visit bidding cities.
3. DICK POUND
Fifty-nine-year-old Canadian lawyer, former Olympic swimming finalist in 1960. Key Olympic player of recent years. Negotiated the last Olympic TV deal. He also heads up the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and oversaw the Salt Lake corruption enquiry, factors which may well weigh gainst him.
4. ANITA DEFRANTZ
Highest ranking female IOC member since she joined in 1986. An attorney, 48, she is a former rowing champion who won bronze at the 1976 Montreal Games. Head of the highly successful Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles. An attorney, speaks English only. IF elected would be the first woman and first person of African descent to head the IOC.
5. PAL SCHMITT
The only Olympic gold medalist among the candidates, the Hungarian won his medal in fencing. Like DeFrantz,
he is regarded as an extreme longshot. Fluent in five languages.
The successful bidding city, and the successful presidential candidate, will be determined by earning a majority vote from however many of the 122 eligible IOC members are present in Moscow. If no majority is determined after the first vote, those with the least votes drop out and the process continues.
The president serves for eight years, with the possibility of a four-year extension.