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Ol'e! Olympics! Barcelona makes strong bid to host 1992 Games

The Los Angeles Olympics remain relatively fresh in our minds, and it's still more than three years to the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea, but believe it or not, the drum beating is already in full swing for 1992. ``Barcelona Olympic News,'' for example, is the title of a series of pamphlets which has bombarded sports writers around the world for nearly two years now. The pamphlets come complete with a detailed map of ``Olympic Barcelona'' showing the numerous sports facilities in existence plus those planned when and if the Mediterranean city of 1,750,000 is chosen as the site of the Games.

Barcelona is generally conceded to have the inside track at this point for a variety of reasons -- not the least of which is that it is the hometown of Juan-Antonio Samaranch, the former Spanish ambassador to the Soviet Union who is president of the International Olympic Committee. There are no sure things in these selections, however, as was shown last time when Seoul got the nod which everyone had expected to go to Nagoya, Japan.

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Actually, a total of six cities have submitted formal applications to host the '92 Games, and any of the others -- Paris, Amsterdam, Belgrade, New Delhi or Brisbane, Australia -- could pull a similar ``upset.''

The bid of Paris, in fact, may be enhanced by the efforts of Madame Monique Berlioux, who recently resigned after 14 years as director and top administrator of the IOC. Berlioux lost a power struggle with Samaranch and was forced out during the latest IOC session in Berlin, but she obviously still has plenty of contacts on the committee and knows her way around in terms of lobbying.

Barcelona, though, appears to have the best-organized effort at the moment, and remains a strong favorite -- especially since it not only has Samaranch in its corner but can also cite an impressive series of recommendations by no less than four former IOC presidents -- Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1926, Count Henri de Baillet-Latour in 1931, Avery Brundage in 1967, and Lord Killanin in 1972.

``A visit to the stadiums, swimming pools, sports palaces and other sports facilities in this great city confirms Barcelona's place among the most privileged cities to hold an Olympic Games whenever she makes a bid for them,'' said Killanin's statement. And the Barcelona organizers have decided that the right time is now.

Actually, Barcelona announced its intention of bidding for the games early in 1981, and the Spanish Olympic Committee approved the city's candidacy more than two years ago. Now all that remains is to await the IOC's decision next year.

No US cities bothered to submit bids, since the IOC likes to move the games around and would have been most unlikely to return so quickly to the same country. However, Anchorage, Alaska, won out in a spirited contest among four sites seeking US Olympic Committee sanction as this country's bidder for the 1992 Winter Olympics (Salt Lake City, Renoe-Tahoe, and Lake Placid were the others).

The competition now gets even tougher, of course, with formal bids also having been made by Berchtesgaden, West Germany; Lillehammer, Norway; Falun, Sweden; Sofia, Bulgaria; Albertville, France; and Cortina, Italy, which was the site of the 1956 Winter Games. Realistically, the Anchorage bid is probably aimed more toward getting a foothold for the future than for 1992 since (a) it's undoubtedly still too soon after the 1980 Lake Placid Games for a return to the same country, and (b) with the 1988 Winter Olympics also scheduled on the North American continent (Calgary), it seems a certainty that they'll go back to Europe the next time.

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Anyway, the IOC will choose both winter and summer sites at its next annual meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, in October 1986 -- before which we can be sure there will be plenty of lobbying by all concerned.

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