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USOC’s Olympic movement a big one

USOC’s Olympic movement a big one

KATIE FORD

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Planes, trains, automobiles and boats are moving the U.S. Olympic Committee from its headquarters and training facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., to Sydney, Australia, for this year's Olympics.

The process of moving this small city across the sea to Australia has required planning over the last six years.

"We don't always win the most medals, but we have the most bags," said Greg Harney, managing director of games and organizational support for the USOC.

USOC officials first visited Sydney in 1994 to see the site for the Olympics and plan for the move.

The committee is coordinating plans not only for this summer's Olympics — scheduled for Sept. 15 to Oct. 1 — but also for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

"It's a cyclical type of operation," Harney said.

Harney said the budget to move the U.S. team is $8 million to $9 million. About 20 people out of 500 employees at the USOC organize the move.

"We have to move anything from horses to kayaks to canoes and rowboats," Harney said.

The move, however, involves more than just equipment. The USOC also is coordinating travel plans for 1,000 U.S. athletes and coaches and about 200 USOC staff members.

Most of the equipment is being shipped to Sydney by sea, which takes six to eight weeks. Horses for the equestrian events are being flown to Sydney.

The sea journey starts, actually, with U.S. athletes' equipment being shipped to Colorado Springs from Olympic training sites across the country. From Colorado Springs, the materials are sent by truck to Denver, and then put on a train to California. The equipment, once on the West Coast, is loaded at port in Long Beach, Calif., into 40-foot-long containers to travel by boat to the Australian coast and Sydney, site of the Olympics.

"They are on the seas now and will get there in the later part of August," said Frank Aires, games logistics manager for the USOC.

As part of its bid to get the Olympics, Sydney officials agreed to pay the overseas shipping costs, but the USOC must cover the bills for transporting the equipment to port in the United States and then from the port in Australia to the competition sites.

Eight containers will be shipped to Australia, at $5,900 each, and four will be sent back to the United States. Some of the supplies will simply be used in Sydney and then donated. For example, the U.S. track and field team is donating all of its equipment to the school in Australia where it will train.

Katie Ford writes for the Denver Business Journal.

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