IOC President Rogge Addresses Olympic Bidding, Doping At USC
Hosted by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, "The State of the Games: A Discussion with IOC President Jacques Rogge" event featured a discussion between moderator and Annenberg professor Alan Abrahamson and the International Olympic Committee president and 68th-most powerful man in the world about both Rogge's past Olympic memories as well as future goals for the world’s preeminent sporting competition.
In a beyond-capacity crowd at the Town & Gown, with dozens of spectators standing in the back of the hall, the discussion began with Rogge being asked about the landmark 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Although the Olympics always were a sign of the host city's prosperity, Rogge explained how Los Angeles changed the game.
"The games here were revolutionary. They were the first sustainable games and created a legacy for the city. It was also the sign of a technology revolution as we had cell phones like big bricks, as well as e-mail," Rogge elaborated to a captivated crowd, which was quiet apart from when Rogge mentioned that he stayed in the UCLA, not USC Olympic Village during the games, drawing a few awkward chuckles.
Rogge also addressed the notion of a "New Horizons" trend in host cities, with the 2016 Summer Games set for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (the first South American Olympics) and the 2018 Winter Games being held in South Korea, along with the long-reaching goal of having an Olympic Games held on the African continent.
Nonetheless, when asked about whether the IOC would give preference towards a host city with a different economic and social climate than past hosts, Rogge stated, "this aspect will only be a factor if there are two cities tied in everything else."
Abrahamson noted that the United States will not be bidding for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Regarding the next American bid, when asked about when the United States will know when we're ready for another bid, Rogge smiled and responded jokingly "When I open the envelope and read out the name."
Rogge and Abrahamson also reflected on the state of doping in international and Olympic sports. Rogge mentioned how the IOC has stepped up its unannounced drug tests, both in and out of competition, as well as the implementation of longitudinal blood profiles for athletes.
"There will always be cheating. It is human nature. We cannot hope to be in a situation where doping is no more," Rogge said when asked if the IOC could stop doping entirely. Still, he laid out his three reasons doping needs to be curbed: it loses credibility for the sports, it hurts interest at young ages, and it is dangerous for the athletes partaking.
Rogge also mentioned the IOC anti-gambling mission, which is teaming up with INTERPOL and other police forces to curb match-fixing. Though Rogge did not offer too many details, he did make sure to give a shout-out to the 1919 Black Sox scandal, possibly the worst betting scandal in professional sports history.
When questioned how the Olympics affect the citizens of the world on a wide basis, Rogge explained that a continuing goal is to bring sports to grassroots levels, alluding to how valuable sports have been in refugee camps in giving the camp residents a "bright light" towards their future.
Rogge also listed three of his most captivating Olympic moments, mentioning the recent record-shattering performances of swimmer Michael Phelps and sprinter Usain Bolt in the recent 2008 Beijing Games, in addition to British rower Stephen Redgrave's winning of a gold medal in a record five consecutive Games from 1984 to 2000.
Though his term is up in October 2013, Rogge sounded tired but satisfied when looking back at his time as IOC president. His one piece of advice to his yet-to-be-named successor: "Learn to listen and shut up."
Before Rogge spoke, USC welcomed the event's distinguished guest, Sammy Lee. One of the first Asian-Americans to step onto the international sports scene, Lee won gold medals in diving in both the 1948 and 1952 Summer Olympics, despite sometimes not even being able to practice at diving facilities because of his race.
The CEO of the United States Olympic Committee Scott Blackmun also spoke at the event. Like Rogge, he was deft about talking about America's chances to host a future Olympic Games, though he did state that there would not be any American bids for the 2022 Winter Games until agreements have been made with the IOC about revenue sharing.
When asked about what else America needs to do to obtain a bid, Blackmun stated that "it depends on cities, the leadership in those cities, and the mood of the international Olympic community."