IOC delegation visits U.S.
By Brian Gomez
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The head of the International Olympic Committee is in Colorado Springs on a rare visit. So are 15 other IOC members, joined by more than 100 athletes from around the world.
For nearly two years, since Scott Blackmun became the U.S. Olympic Committee's chief executive officer, the USOC has focused its sights on increasing international interaction, on assuming a more active role in the Olympic movement. Now, it's following through.
IOC president Jacques Rogge arrived in Colorado Springs on Sunday, and he'll stay until Tuesday for the IOC's international athletes' forum, a biennial gathering being held in the U.S. for the first time in which participants are examining athlete issues and exchanging ideas.
Not since 2001 has Rogge, of Belgium, come to Colorado Springs. He toured the USOC's new downtown headquarters building Monday, and he checked out the Olympic Training Center, where he enjoyed lunch with OTC residents. IOC vice president Thomas Bach, of Germany, also is on the trip, along with IOC executive board members Richard Carrion, of Puerto Rico; Rene Fasel, of Switzerland; and Frank Fredericks, of Namibia.
There aren't plans while Rogge is here for the USOC and the IOC to continue talks of an overhauled revenue-sharing deal -- a stumbling block in the eyes of the USOC to bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, possibly with Denver as a candidate. "There will be plenty of interaction with the senior leadership of the IOC," USOC chairman Larry Probst said last month. "But I don't anticipate any discussions or negotiations around revenue sharing."
Rogge visiting the Springs is "symbolic of the effort that we've been engaged in for 18 months to become more engaged," Blackmun said last week before going with Probst to a Pan American Sports Organization conference that starts Tuesday in Guadalajara, Mexico. Blackmun added, "It's important because it's a reflection of the fact that we're trying to become a more credible and engaged participant in the worldwide Olympic movement."
"That definitely has been a focus of ours," USOC board and IOC athletes' commission member Angela Ruggiero said Sunday during a reception at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame that included Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach. The tune of the retooled USOC? "Let's engage more," she said. "Let's collaborate more. Let's be a part of the international community more, outside of just hosting the (Olympic) Games."