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September 12, 2000
It's houseful at SydneyAdrian Warner
Almost every person on the planet with access to a television will watch the Sydney Olympics at some time in the next month, officials said on Tuesday.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) marketing commission chief Dick Pound said the Games, which open on Friday, would be the largest Olympic telecast ever, with an estimated total global television audience of 3.7 billion people.
The IOC estimates that there are 3.9 billion people in the world with access to television. The Games will be broadcast in 220 countries.
"That is an increase of 700 million over 1996 (at the Atlanta Games)," said Pound who, despite the biggest bribery scandal in the IOC's history over the last two years, was able to present a glowing report on the IOC's marketing programmes to members at a meeting before the Games.
The IOC is struggling to boost its image after the Salt Lake City scandal in which 10 members left the organisation after being accused of taking gifts from the U.S. city during its successful bid for the 2002 Winter Games.
Despite the IOC's severe image problems, the cash tills keep ringing. Sponsors are still signing up to back the Games, although they now have a "morals" opt-out clause allowing them to walk away from the IOC if it goes off the rails.
Pound said the television rights fees for Sydney totalled $1.331 billion compared to $895 million in Atlanta. Some $798 million will go to Sydney organisers with $533 million distributed between National Olympic Committees, international sporting federations, the IOC and Olympic programmes like the new world anti-doping agency.
Nine of the 11 leading Olympic sponsors, the "TOP" programme sponsors, have renewed their contracts and another one is expected to announce an agreement before the opening ceremony, he said.
Asked if recent critical press coverage had worried the sponsors just before the Games, marketing director Michael Payne said: "The sponsors are calling me up and talking about the Games and the athletes where their programmes are focused."
"We're getting strong reviews from the sponsors, focusing on the Games and the athletes, not on the IOC."
Sydney has had its controversies with ticket rows but the city is set to boast the most successful sponsorship programme, with revenues of $626 million.
"Eighty percent of the total tickets have been sold, " Pound said; "The highest ever was 82.3 percent, so it shows every sign of being an Olympic record."
The IOC said it estimated that 35 million people would look at the Games through the Internet, compared to two million for the Nagano Winter Games two years ago.
The IOC has also managed to arrange a television signal for troubled East Timor, which has sent a small team to the Games following its vote a year ago to end 23 years of Indonesian rule.
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