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Olympics roundup

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 3, 2000

Samaranch looks ahead to Athens

SYDNEY, Australia -- Within hours of calling the Sydney Games the best ever, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch put Athens on notice to speed preparations for the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Samaranch said the Greek government needs to do more to overcome three years of chronic delays in construction of venues and other projects.

"I think with the new organizing committee things are going much better," he said in an interview Monday with the Associated Press. "But we need another step forward. The cooperation of the government must be much more important. The government must be more involved in the Games."

Samaranch warned earlier this year that the Athens Games were in danger because of the delays. Since then, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who led the Athens bid, was brought back to run the organizing committee, and Premier Costas Simitis has assumed government control over the Games.

The morning after the flame was extinguished in Sydney, Samaranch took a few moments to reflect on the emotions he felt closing his 10th and last Games as head of the IOC.

"I wasn't sad, but I was emotional," he said.

The 80-year-old Spaniard turns things over to his successor at the IOC session in July in Moscow.

RATINGS DROP OFF: The United States may have grabbed the most gold medals, but NBC's tape-delayed coverage limped across the finish line at a 30-year low in Olympic television ratings.

Through the Closing Ceremonies Sunday, the Olympics scored an average U.S. household rating of 13.8, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research Inc. Each point represents 1,022,000 homes.

That average was down considerably from the most recent overseas Summer Olympics and stands as the lowest-rated U.S. TV viewership of the Olympics -- summer or winter -- since Mexico City in 1968, which garnered 13.5.

PRIME PREDICTIONS: Two Ivy league professors who used wealth and population figures to predict how many medals some countries would win put on a gold-medal performance.

The economics professors said their formula -- which factored in Australia's home advantage and government support for athletes -- was 96 percent accurate. They predicted exactly the 97 medals brought home by Americans.

"We were pretty pleased actually to have ended up as good as we did," said Meghan Busse, an assistant professor of economics at Yale who wrote the formula with Andrew Bernard from Dartmouth.

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