Go to contents

USOC, Tourist Attraction for All

Posted June. 19, 2008 03:20,   


“Amazing Awaits”

That’s the slogan the United States Olympic Committee has put up for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Paralympics. The catchphrase connotes the long, winding road athletes have traveled to the dream competition. The United States has topped three consecutive Olympics since the 1996 games in Atlanta, Georgia. Dong-A’s reporters recently visited the committee in Colorado.

Famous site for tourists

The committee is located at the Olympic Training Center on the outskirts of Colorado Springs in Colorado. Driving to the center, a giant placard caught our attention. It was erected to welcome the committee’s decision to stay in the city for the next 25 years. Ten other cities in the United States competed to host it. But Colorado Springs offered a $5.3 million financial incentive, which persuaded the committee to stay put. A local newspaper estimates that the committee makes a $340 million economic contribution to the locality. The center first settled in the city in 1977. In preparation for the 1969 Olympics in Mexico, the United States needed a highland and the city, located 1,800 meters above sea level, satisfied that need.

While we expected to see facilities filled with sweating athletes, what we found instead were mostly tourists like ourselves. USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel explained, “Only a couple of sports train here year round, like volleyball and wrestling teams. Even the athletes are doing their individual training. It’s not mandatory training for now. It’s not efficient to put them in one place and train them together.”

The United States has three training centers nationwide dedicated to the Olympics. Colorado Springs is equipped with facilities for swimming, shooting, gymnastics, weightlifting, wrestling and volleyball, while the city of Lake Placid hosts athletes for skiing, ice hockey, boxing and rowing. Finally, Chula Vista in California houses facilities for archery, cycling, soccer and tennis.

Around 140,000 tourists visit the center in Colorado each year, and students who sign up for various programs swarm the city as well as the center. Individuals can use the dorm and the gym in the center for just $40 a day, feeling the thrill of the Olympic spirit.

No federal subsidies

The USOC does not receive a dime from the federal government. In contrast, its Korean counterpart and the Korea Sports Council subsist on government subsidies. Out of this year’s council budget of 129.7 billion won (or, $129 million), 65.1 billion won comes from government aids. Another 58 billion won is from the state-owned Seoul Olympic Sports Promotion Foundation.

The American committee spends $150 million a year on average. More than 40 percent of the money is financed by corporate donations. Then, its second largest income comes from the fees it charges for broadcasting licenses. In addition, individuals chip in around 8 percent of the budget. Now is fund-raising time for Team USA. As of yesterday, it has collected $47 million, very close to its target amount of $50 million.

In the meanwhile, China is aiming to lead the Olympics taking place in its own backyard. USOC CEO James Scherr stressed that the Olympic spirit comes before anything else, though he conceded that it would be great to maintain the team’s standing from last year, which was No. 1.

Star U.S. athletes are preparing for the upcoming Olympics with the full support of Americans. And, their fans and fellow Americans expect amazing results in August.