We joke about people peddling steaks and watches as influence, but megasporting events do have some very public issues with corruption. Could the International Olympic Committee create reform when it comes to anti-corruption and human rights? Law professor Andy Spalding, head of the independent group Olympics Compliance Task Force joins us to talk about the work his group is doing to develop a new approach to these issues for the Olympics and the World Cup.

We don’t often get into a lot of World Cup talk on our show, but Andy talks a lot about reforms Qatar implemented for the 2022 World Cup that could have a long-lasting legacy. You might be shocked to hear about them, but hopefully they will stick and make for better working conditions in that country.

You can find out more about Andy and his work at his University of Richmond faculty page and the Olympics Compliance Task Force site.

Since we’re talking about corruption, it’s the perfect time to talk about what could very well be the most corrupt boxing match in Olympic history (it’s tough to choose just one boxing moment that fits though, right?): Roy Jones vs. Park Si-hun at Seoul 1988. Alison’s got the details–and the aftermath–in our History Moment. Check out the fight for yourself. Who would you choose to win?

In our visit to TKFLASTAN, we have news from:

Things are ramping up for Paris 2024! Several nations are talking about a boycott if Russian and Belorussian athletes are allowed a pathway to entry. Heck, Paris Mayor Anne Hildago doesn’t even want them to come!

The International Olympic Committee has noted that boycotting the Games is a violation of the Olympic Charter….but, um, didn’t Russia violate the Olympic Truce by starting the war?

In better news, we now know the starting line for the torch relay! The flame will sail from Greece through the Mediterranean to Marseilles to kick off the event. The full relay route will com out this May.

Plus, Paris 2024 has released the sport pictograms for next year’s Games! Find them here — here are a couple of examples:

Paris 2024 Pictogram for fencing. It shows an epee and sabre crossed in an X with a foil running through the middle of the X. On either side are fencing masks facing each other. Pictogram for wheelchair rugby. It shows a goal on either side, a wheelchair in the center, and a rugby ball on the top and bottom.

Source: Paris 2024

We have a discussion going on about them in our Facebook Group — we’d love to know your thoughts!

Not to be outdone, Milan-Cortina 2026, which has a habit of using the Sanremo song contest as an interactive opportunity for people to help them decide elements of the Games, announced the two choices for mascots for the Games: The flowers and the stoats. We try hard to describe them on the show, but here’s what they look like:

Mascot option for Milan-Cortina 2026 - stoats. A white stoat with a black tip on its tail, wearing a blue helmet. The other is a brown stoat with a white chest, also wearing a blue helmet. Flower mascots - edleweiss and snowdrop. The flowers are headgear, and the stems are the mascot bodies.

 

Source: Milan-Cortina 2026

You can vote here, and the winner will “be a source of inspiration for choosing” the final mascots. Let us know who you choose!

Finally, we just might yet get a Winter Games in Stockholm! We’ll tell you what’s up with them and the possibility of hosting for 2030.

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!

Photo: University of Richmond


TRANSCRIPT

Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note.

Episode 273-Andy Spalding on Anti-Corruption at the Olympics

[00:00:00]

[00:00:00] Jill: Hello and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast four fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the Games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games.

I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello. How are you?

[00:00:49] Alison: I guess I have to be honest today, right?

[00:00:52] Jill: Yeah. Yeah, you do. can’t fight the law. There’ll

[00:00:57] Alison: be no watches and steak dinners for us this week.

[00:01:00] Jill: That is correct. That is correct.

Today we are talking anti-corruption and Human rights reformed when it comes to the Olympics. Our guest is Andy Spalding, a professor at the University of Richmond Law School. He heads up an independent task force called the Olympics Compliance Task Force that is working to develop a new approach to anti-corruption and human rights, both at the Olympics and at the World Cup.

Take a listen.

Andy Spalding Interview

[00:01:32] Jill: Andy, thank you so much for joining us. You’re on the Olympics compliance task force. What is this and how did it come to be? Sure.

[00:01:42] Andy Spalding: So I am first of all very happy to be on this podcast. The Olympics compliance Task Force is a group of international scholars and practitioners from a variety of countries from Western Europe, from Australia, from east Asia, Eastern Europe trying to support the IOCs effort to bring meaningful anti-corruption and human rights compliance to Megaport.

We are variously anti-corruption experts and human rights experts. We recognize that Megaport have been plagued by human rights and corruption problems, and in fact are widely associated as the very paragons of corruption and human rights negligence. We see a number of initiatives at the I O C and also with FIFA that have the potential to meaningfully reduce our, problems with corruption, human rights, and we want to support those.

We want to bring our collective expertise to one particular initiative, which is the IOCs host city contract. So, we can talk further about what that contract is and why we think it matters.

[00:02:44] Alison: Who do you answer to? Or is this an independent group?

[00:02:49] Andy Spalding: It’s an independent group. Now we have been in formal and informal consultations with the I O C and we expected that to continue, but I don’t want to give the false impression that we have somehow been commissioned by or established at the request of the I O C but we are talking to the IOC and TA fifa. Both organizations are very open to new ideas on how to advance anti-corruption and human rights goals. and we expect those conversations will continue.

[00:03:16] Alison: So how did you get in on this action?

[00:03:19] Andy Spalding: So, I uh, have been working in anti-corruption law for many years. That’s my principal area of expertise. I’m a professor at at the law school in the United States, the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia and became very interested in anti-corruption reforms in relation to mega sports, particularly the Olympic Games.

And so began to study initiatives and came to believe that mega sports organizations generally are under-staffed. And when there are exciting new initiatives like this host city contract that we can talk about they could use some support. they, in fact the IOC and FIFA very often depend quite explicitly on stakeholder engagement to help develop a lot of their policies and their practices.

And so we wanted to make ourselves available. It was a couple of us that, conceived of the idea of a task force. And then we, we built a group of scholars, and practitioners, both on the human rights side and the anti-corruption side. And then kind of asserted ourselves into the discussion.

I had the good fortune of having a, a research grant with the International Olympic Committee, which allowed me to engage in a series of meetings with ioc, policy makers. Over several years. And that research grant became the door through which the task force could both develop and share a lot of its ideas.

[00:04:31] Alison: So it seems like an Olympics doesn’t go by without some corruption scandal and some human rights issues. So talk to us a little bit about specifically what you see as the problems.

[00:04:45] Andy Spalding: Sure. So, I think it’s worth noting that corruption in human rights issues are not new to mega sports. Even allegations of bribery in the Olympic games go back to ancient Greece.

But I think what is new is ] a collective expectation that the games be [00:05:00] better. I think we have emerging global anti-corruption standards. We have emerging global human rights standards, and we have this as. That which I very much support, that the IOC and FIFA should abide by these higher standards that we’re not just going to tolerate as just the status quo, these recurring systemic human rights and anti cryption problems.

And so you have this, this emerging critique you know, have a lot of pressure on the international organizations by a, a huge network of NGOs and journalists and academics. And so there’s now this, this need to adopt measures to address the problems. Again, the problems are not new, but we care about them a lot more than we ever did.

I think the anti-corruption piece really starts as recently as 1998. That was the Olympic Games in connection to the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, where we had the first real evidence of bribery that began what I think of as the, the modern megaport bribery narrative. In the late nineties when this evidence arose, that was also a time that some historians have called the corruption eruption.

And by that we mean it was a time when all of a sudden the world really cared about corruption for all kinds of reasons. Corruption had been there since time in Memorial, but in the nineties we all started to care about it and started to do a lot about it. You saw a number of protests, you saw resignations, you saw scandals, you saw new international conventions.

And so in the midst of this new era in history in which the world is paying attention to corruption and trying to address corruption, a document gets leaked in connection with the 2002 Winter Olympics, which all but proves that bribes were being paid to the daughter of an executive committee member.

And so that was really the birth of this modern movement. Since then, of course, since 1998, we’ve been in an interesting moment in Olympic history where we have. Awarded Megas Sports to a number of countries that hadn’t previous, previously hosted, or regions that hadn’t previously hosted. we see the first Olympic Games in, in South America, in the, in the southern hemisphere in Brazil.

We see the first mega sport event in, in Africa, which was the FIFA 2010 World Cup. Then we see the Qatar World Cup First Event in the Middle East. Good. But as we did this, all kinds of corruption, human rights issues arose. And so, uh, we have something of a perfect storm that has induced a reform movement, which we’re trying to contribute to in some small way.

[00:07:25] Jill: So why are mega events like the Olympics, like the World Cup kind of target. as being the standards, or they should be the standards of human rights and anti-corruption.

[00:07:37] Andy Spalding: Fabulous question. You, you, you wouldn’t think that they would, would you? Yeah. It’s just sports. It’s, it’s just sports. It’s just business.

And, and here, forgive me if, if I sound a little idealistic or even sappy, but I, I do think people care on balance a little bit more about sports. I think sports have a, they touch us in a way that ordinary politics for most people don’t. if you, for example, were to survey a cross-section of the world’s population and ask which anti-corruption event of the last 10 years are they more familiar with the operation Lavato in Brazil?

Probably the, the largest anti-corruption enforcement action we’ve ever seen in any country or the FIFA bribery scandals. Everybody knows about the FIFA stuff. Some people know about the, the Brazil stuff, and that’s because soccer sports get our attention. We care. There’s in some parts of the world, it’s said that soccer or what most people call football is like a religion.

And so, if you think of a sport that way, then bribery is not just ordinary run of the mill businesses, bribery each other. This is, this is like the priest stealing money from the, from the church’s coffers. This affects us differently. and so we, bring these, aspirations to bear on these megaport organizations.

it’s this something idealistic in each of us. Even the most cynical critic, I would argue, is fueled by this hope or this expectation that may make sports be better. And that’s what they’re upset about. and so, it’s odd, but I think it’s very useful. And for those of us in the anti-corruption space, it’s a useful teaching tool to use sports to help the world understand that there are these new norms, there are these new practices, there are things we can do to reduce corruption.

We don’t have to assume, as most of the world did a couple decades ago, that corruption is just inherent in human organizations and there’s nothing you can do about it. Megaport are starting to show that there is something we can do about it.

[00:09:34] Jill: So the I O C is moving forward with their new host city contract, which came about in 2017.

So it really only applies to Paris. And it’s kind of funny cuz then the side question would be like it, all of these measures move incredibly slowly when you’re talking about organizing events that take seven years to do. . So tell us a little bit about the new Host city contract and what it [00:10:00] involves.

Yes. That’s different.

[00:10:01] Andy Spalding: Yes. Yeah, it is different. It is moving slowly. That’s certainly true. I can see that premise, but it’s moving. So, when the I O C awards games to a city, whether it’s to Paris or to Atlanta, or to Soshi, whomever it may be, it enters into this omnibus contract that is hundreds of pages long, covers all kinds of aspects of the delivery of games and preparation for the games.

The parties to the contract are the IOC on one side and then on the other side, the host city the host City’s National Olympic Committee and what’s called the O Cog, the Organizing Committee with the Olympic Games, the group that’s created to put on the games.

Okay. So the host City and the National Olympic Committee and the O Cog enter into this contract with I O C. And historically, that contract, as much as it covered, did not cover corruption in human rights. It did not create corruption, anti-corruption in human rights obligations on the host. In 2017, the I O C revised its model contract so that all hosts moving forward, starting with Paris, would now for the first time in history, have anti-corruption and human rights contractual obligations.

So the contract that they would enter into would obligate them to take a number of anti-corruption in human rights measures. Now, in the, industry, we call this anti-corruption compliance and human rights due diligence. And so they inserted these contracts, these, these provisions into the contract.

And now the question becomes what are they going to mean in practice? The provisions are essentially permanent. All hosts after Paris. Have the same contractual provisions, but now what the broader Olympic movement and, stakeholders, to the Olympic Games need to help do is, make these contractual provisions meaningful?

At the moment, they’re not, I don’t think they’re doing a lot of work in 2024, but I think in future events they can, and I, and I expect they will. And so we have to figure out what these contractual provisions mean, in practice, and then we have to get the organizations to actually implement them.

[00:12:05] Alison: So what are some of the elements that you want to see included and put in practice?

[00:12:10] Andy Spalding: Yes. So, the host city contract, as we said, is a contract between the IOC on the one hand in the National Olympic Committee, the ooc and the city, and it requires them to adopt two sets of measures. One has to do with anti-corruption compliance, and this for listeners who may not have encountered compliance.

The phenomenon of compliance or the compliance industry compliance refers to a system that an organization will put in place to prevent violations, to detect violations if they occur, and then to remediate those violations, which means to take the steps to fix it once it’s happened. So anti-corruption compliance refers to these broader systems, and we can talk about what the systems include that organizations put in place.

Human rights due diligence is basically the same concept applied to human rights. So now we have systems that organizations should put in place to prevent human rights violations. To detect human rights violations and to address them in appropriate ways within their operations. I think as we’re talking about applying anti-corruption compliance and human rights due diligence to the games, it has to occur in two steps. The first would be the O cog, the host cd, the National Olympic Committee. And of those, especially the organizing committee, the O cog would have to adopt compliance and due diligence themselves. That organization, the O Cog itself, would have to adopt anti-corruption compliance and human rights due diligence.

That would be step one. The second step would be to make sure that all entities doing business with the ooc themselves have anti-corruption compliance, and human rights due diligence in place. So if I’m a private security company, I’m a hotdog supplier, I’m a a cleaning services supplier. I want to win a contract to do business with the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympics.

Am I expected to have anti-corruption measures in place in my business? Am I expected to have human rights due diligence measures in place in my business? This is sort of the new frontier where we’re trying to move into uh, what we call third party obligations. The obligations of all these companies, big companies, medium companies, small companies that are engaging with the event to get the measures in place there.

And if we were to do that, two, I think very good things would happen. One, the incidences of corruption and human rights violations would go down, not to zero, let’s be realistic, but they would go down and then something else very good would happen. We would, we use this word in Megaport a lot, the word legacy.

And a legacy can be infrastructure, intangible goods. A legacy can be various economic benefits or other laws or practices or policies.[00:15:00] We are increasingly talking in Megaport about the possibility of an anti-corruption in human rights legacy, so that we could see in the host country that there are now new practices among certain entities, whether it’s the host city, maybe it’s the ocg, maybe certain of the companies doing business with the ocg.

There are new practices, there’s familiarity with new norms. There’s familiarity with international standards and laws and conventions. There might be, in some cases new law, new actual laws or new enforcement initiatives, all as a result of hosting the games. And if that happens and we’re starting to see that happen, then.

the host city contract with its anti-corruption and human rights provisions has done two things. One, it has put measures in place to reduce these violations. And two, it has left behind in the host city. Something of an imprint, a, a legacy. We can say the host is just a little bit better off on corruption in human rights practices because it hosted the games.

That’s a realistic goal. And the contract with this contract provisions are, are a, a key mechanism for achieving that legacy.

[00:16:07] Jill: I have, so I have so many

[00:16:08] Andy Spalding: questions. .

I love them. I love questions. Bring ’em on.

[00:16:11] Alison: Okay, I’ll start. One of the big complaints about the Olympics is cost. And whenever people talk anti-corruption in human rights, they always scream, but it’s gonna cost more. That’s right. So where does this fit into the question of we need to keep the cost down?

[00:16:26] Andy Spalding: Absolutely fair question. And any organizing committee would and some have looked at me kind of cross-eyed and said, I’m gonna do this when with who’s money?

Absolutely. Fair question. And I think we can respond to it in a number of ways. One way is that some of this work has to be done by stakeholders. We can’t ask the organizing community to do it, and that’s why the task force has tried to step up and say, let us take a stab at developing some operational principles for these contractual provisions.

That’s one. Another is we have to think about the cost versus the benefit. Yes, this is a cost, this requires resources, but how much are corruption and human rights scandals costing the megaport movement? Now, they’re costing it dearly. The brand’s value is very low. Cynicism is very high. We see numerous host countries engaging in referenda.

Deciding to not host the games for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that we don’t think they can be governed well at all, and it’s just gonna become a disaster, okay? That eventually will incur major costs to the host city. So corruption and human rights are a cost. They’re expensive. The question is, can we invest money to reduce those costs?

And increasingly in, in the corporate sector, that’s the practice. You see companies investing in compliance to a lesser extent in the United States, you see them investing in human rights due diligence. But in Western Europe, that’s becoming a big thing. We, in the United States, tend to be very good on anti-corruption compliance and pretty weak on human rights due diligence vis-a-vis our friends in Europe, for example.

But this is the emerging trend that is a good investment to put money into preventative measures so that you avoid the costs of scandals and major breakdowns. That’s one other way to think about it, and I would suggest one more, and this occurred actually in a conversation I had with members of the ancient National Olympic Committee.

And when I say members of the international com committee, I don’t mean the executive committee, I mean middle management type of people at the International Olympic Committee there in Louanne talking about these very ideas at a table with a lot of people sitting around it. And I’m getting many of these same kinds of questions.

Who’s gonna do it? How expensive it is, how can we afford this? And someone kind of quietly, a, a more senior member at the table kind of quietly sat back and listened. And then she raised her hand and she said, 20 years ago, we made these same arguments against the notion of a sustainability legacy that is that.

That Olympic events, mega sport events, could be expected to develop leading environmental sustainability practices. And that could be built into the bid expected by the I O C and could become routine among host cities. 20 years ago that all seemed like a pipe dream and we didn’t seem to have the resources to, to do it Today.

That is a standard feature of an of, of Omega sporting event. So why wouldn’t corruption and human rights initiatives be every bit as worth investing in as environmental sustainability initiatives? I would suggest they’re close a kin, and, and the, the same return on investment that we see, both in terms of dollar savings, but also in terms of brand value.

That we have seen in the environmental space, we would see in the anti krypton human rights space, maybe even more, because I don’t know that environmental damage was ever a major chin in the I ooc brand. It was a problem. But if you were to survey Americans or sports fans around the world and say, where are the biggest problems with [00:20:00] the Olympics?

I’m not sure that environmental impact would be a top one. It would be in there somewhere. But I guarantee you that corruption and human rights are perceived to be among the IOCs and FIFA’s most pressing problems.

[00:20:11] Jill: So in that same conversation as after that senior member spoke, what was the tone of the room after that?

Did they start thinking of how to make it happen?

[00:20:22] Andy Spalding: In effect? Yes. I mean, there, there was a moment when it was I see. That is the trajectory that we’re on now. I don’t want to overplay the moment or overplay our impact, but I can tell you that in Megaport, Generally there is a lot of movement in this space.

I think most of the energy is on the FIFA side. I think the I O C would concede that, FIFA has developed a number of initiatives to addressed host country corruption,

human rights problems. I have the good fortune of being involved in some of those. I was very closely involved in the Qatar project, which despite all the bad press, much of which was deserved showcase a number of interesting initiatives that nobody knows about.

and it’s worth noting that with the 2026 World Cup, which is gonna be hosted by Canada, the United States, and Mexico, this was the first host ever to promise to make anti-corruption, compliance, and human rights due diligence a requirement on all third parties. and it was the first host to promise to create an anti-corruption and human rights legacy as a result of the games.

[00:21:29] Jill: How’s that working out?

[00:21:30] Andy Spalding: Well, it’s early, but I, and, and, and I get the cynicism. And, and I can, we can say for sure that whatever we hope for from these initiatives, we won’t achieve all of that. But I can also say for sure that there is definite forward progress. Very few people are familiar with it because it just doesn’t play well in the papers.

We would rather read about scandals than we would read about successful, innovative enforcement initiatives that, that doesn’t play. Believe me, I’ve tried to sell it hard. So I don’t expect the, global commentariat to acknowledge these advances in the immediate future. But if you get into this space and you talk to the experts and you start to study a little bit, you can see there’s actually a lot going on.

[00:22:13] Jill: So with the, the Qatar extending human rights to third party contractors, it’s, it’s kind of interesting in a way, cuz then that blends in a couple of my questions of, in the last couple of months, Paris 2024 has been outed for using undocumented migrant labor. But if you read the fine print that is a subcontractor, and you talked earlier about O cogs being understaffed.

Is that a problem in then having enough manpower to kind of help enforce this or make sure

[00:22:47] Andy Spalding: it’s happening?

Certainly it is, and certainly this will have to be a growth area. Again, back to your earlier question, we just have to decide that it’s worth the investment. It, If the I O C were to say as it one day might, perhaps even one day soon we’re done with these subcontract tractor human rights scandals.

Now we can’t eliminate them, but we can’t take measures to reduce them. If we had human rights due diligence programs required of all these parties, and we had a way to monitor it, that would significantly reduce the instances of this, we could have caught, well, arguably we’ve cut it now, we could have cut it earlier.

The kinds of problems you’re describing, it is just gonna take resources in the same way that monitoring the creation of an environmental sustainability legacy takes resources. So, we just have to decide that it’s worth it. And then the IOC and FIFA have to send the clear message that bids won’t be taken seriously without this, and then we’ll have it.

[00:23:42] Jill: is this work that can be, for lack of a better word, templated and reused from host city to host city so that we don’t constantly reinvent the

[00:23:53] Andy Spalding: wheel?

Absolutely. It can and will in, in inevitably will. I, I suspect that the 2026 World Cup is gonna be the event that makes the most progress in this space.

And the hope is that these initiatives leave a legacy not just for the host countries, but also leave a legacy for Megaport. And what is the legacy for Megaport? It’s a template. It’s a model that we can bring to future hosts. Now what makes that possible? One of the things that makes it possible is this increasingly globalized set of norms or standards around anti-corruption, compliance, and human rights due diligence.

If we thought that anti-corruption was something that some countries care about and other countries don’t care about, then it would be hard to argue that this is gonna be a standard requirement, but that simply isn’t the case. Anti-corruption is a, global political norm. Now we, how will we operationalize?

It varies greatly, and we can argue about some forms of corruption on the fringes, but the notion that government officials shouldn’t take bribes and allocate illegal benefits on the basis of bribes, everybody believes that. so we can take [00:25:00] whatever initiatives we we develop in one event and bring them to the next event.

They will have to be adapted to that local hosts legal framework and anti-corruption environment, which includes corporate breast practices and, and norms. And so, , but it certainly can. In the same way that global anti-corruption enforcement today outside of Megaport, you see this happening.

Absolutely. This indisputably. So megaport is, is just a, another instance of these increasingly globalized standards. I would say the same is true of human rights, although that’s a very controversial assertion. But we think, how could you say that when Qatar just did the blink, blink, blink, blink, blink. People have no idea how much work was invested in addressing human rights risks in Qatar and how many successes they had.

Now, many problems arose in Qatar, and I don’t mean to just diminish those for a moment, but that’s part of the story. That’s not the entire story. The, the rest of the story is that a number of initiatives were developed FIFA 2026. The 2026 World Cup is plainly undertaking to pick up where guitar left off.

Taken some of the ideas and some of the initiatives that were developed in Qatar and carrying them forward. The first host to really embrace this idea that the sports could, could create a human rights legacy is Qatar. Nobody knows that. But they not only explicitly embrace this idea that we are gonna leave a human rights legacy, they plainly did it to an exceptional degree, which is not to diminish the problems that arose in the process, but it’s only to suggest there’s another side of the story.

So the, the ball is moving plainly.

[00:26:44] Jill: What are some of the specifics that Qatar did? Yes.

[00:26:48] Andy Spalding: So the principle issue was labor rights and labor. Labor safety, labor working conditions. Qatar has a major migrant labor population, one of the highest concentrations of migrant labor in the entire world.

And in 2010, when Qatar won the rights to host the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup, their labor environment was bad. The organizers will concede this. We were in a bad place in relation to labor. Throughout the Middle East. Migrant workers were not treated well, and they weren’t treated well in Qatar.

And once Qatar won the rice to host the World Cup, a, a tsunami of international criticism descended on Qatar. Why Qatar and not any other Middle Eastern country where the practices were roughly the same. One reason because Qatar was hosting the World Cup and the NGOs and the labor organizations, the journalists knew that.

the World Cup would shine a spotlight on Qatar that would allow us to call attention to these issues. So all that happens. And in response to all this criticism, Qatar did two things. One, it developed a set of standards called the Worker Welfare Standards, which were the standards that would apply to all workers on World Cup related work.

Okay. And they concerned freedom of contract safety conditions nutrition and health minimum wage, so forth and katar. The, the organizing committee called the Supreme Committee developed these standards and implemented them in relation to World Cup work. And to just give you a, an example of how even some migrant workers perceive the progress there.

And this is very unfamiliar to people because no one’s heard these stories, but I was in a closed door meeting involving a number of stakeholders to the Qatar 2022 World Cup. There was there at the table, a representative of a migrant. Labor union. He was himself, a gentleman from South Asia spoke broken English, but was very intelligent and, and, and very forceful in his expression.

The conversation turned to legacy and we were having a fairly civil conversation. This gentleman, this representative of the Labor Union, racist hand, when he was called on, he pounded his fist on the table and he said, you speak of legacy. I’ll tell you legacy. Legacy is when every laborer in Qatar is treated as well as the World Cup laborers are treated.

Now, that story would startle almost anybody because we have no notion of the effort that Qatar made to address labor conditions in the World Cup. Now, did it go far enough? Is there more room for progress? Of course, were great harms done in the process, certainly, but the World Cup work became a kind of bubble in which these higher standards were implemented.

That was step number one. Step number two, the Qatar National Government then used these world Cup related standards and the World Cup work itself as a kind of laboratory, as a kind of experiment. And it took a number of these standards and implemented them into national law with the support of the International Labor Organization who developed a close partnership with Qatar.

And so what you see in Qatar is a complete overhaul of their national legislative framework in relation to labor addressing many of the same issues that workers Welfare’s standards addressed for the World Cup work. Now, [00:30:00] the main question with these national reforms moving forward is, are they going to be enforced consistently, enduringly once the World Cup leaves, which it has, time will tell, but there’s no denying that the, the legislative framework is radically different because they hosted the World Cup because all this criticism came because they decided to respond to it.

No. Russia, for example, received all kinds of criticism on corruption and human rights. Did we see a, a legislative overhaul in Russia? We did not, but Qatar really deserves to be placed in a different bucket than Russia. Then countries like China, which in response to global human rights criticism basically turned up their nose and said, we don’t want to change and you can’t make us.

But Kaar responded very differently in ways that nobody knows. and so, so now moving forward, there’s a legacy, not just for Qatar, but there’s a legacy for Megaport, which 2026 World Cup is plainly taking on because they’re in effect saying, we’re not going to wait until all the criticism comes to decide.

We’re gonna build a human rights legacy. We’re gonna bake that into our bid, right? In a preventative way, in a proactive way, before the scandal has come, before the scathing reports and all the journalism, all of it. Before that wave even comes, we’re gonna pledge to. Adopt systemic human rights and anti-corruption compliance and to leave a legacy in the host games, in the host countries.

And that’s where we are now.

[00:31:27] Jill: it’s interesting though, because, well, 2026 US Canada also 2028 la 2028 Olympics and Paralympics,

[00:31:36] Andy Spalding: those, can I interject? There’s, yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s restate that and say 2026 Canada, United States, Mexico. Oh, right,

[00:31:44] Jill: right. South Mexico. Okay. So Mexico. But, but basically you’re talking about places where, or events where the infrastructure is pretty much there.

There’s prob there’s gotta be some work, but we’re not building stadiums like, oh, hey uh, Milan Cortina, you gotta build a bobsled track. Right. you know, I worry about like Italy. Yes.

[00:32:02] Andy Spalding: As we should. And currently we’re, infrastructure has just been a magnet for corruption. , the movement within Megaport to reduce the infrastructure obligations of host countries is, among other things, a very smart anti-corruption measure.

We are reducing corruption risks and human rights risks by reducing those infrastructure needs. No question. But there are many other corruption and human rights risks that arise and all of the other preparations, all of the other contracts, all the services, all the deals that are made, all the sponsorships all the kinds of workers on the human rights side, all the, the concessions and the transportation and the security and the cleaning services and et cetera, et cetera.

It’s all imbued with corruption and human rights risks. We are certainly um, moving in the right direction by taking away the infrastructure piece, but other pieces remain. and so, in Canada, United States of Mexico, I think not only is the physical infrastructure there, but also some of the legal infrastructure, if we can say that, is there, because Canada and the United States in particular have pretty good anti-corruption systems in place.

Mexico is still in the front end of a major new corruption overhaul. Human rights is a little different question. Canada generally perceived to be very good many salient human rights issues in the United States that are going to be discussed very widely in the world in connection with 2026 and 2028.

Just for starters, take the phrase migrant labor, which became synonymous with Qatar. Take out the word migrant and insert undocumented, and that’s the United States. And Mexico, of course, plays a role in this as well. And so there’s all these NGOs and journalists, all this. All these, this capacity that developed under Qatar to criticize countries for their labor environment, that’s all coming to North America now, and it’s going to be a catalyst to some, some hard conversations, to some very scathing investigation and journalism and hopefully some reforms.

[00:34:08] Alison: One of the things that we’ve talked a lot about on the podcast is awarding games to appropriate countries slash cities. We probably mean appropriate slightly differently than you do, but in the same family. So how does that work into what you’re doing on the host city contract? But where do you put that when we’re talking about the actual bid process?

[00:34:32] Andy Spalding: I love this question and it is a hard one, and it lies at the heart of this whole movement because we have to, we have to ask a threshold question, is our goal. To reduce corruption in human rights risks and violations, or is our goal to effectuate reform? If our goal is to reduce risks, we award the games to the most developed countries.

That, in effect, is what we’re doing now. All, [00:35:00] all future uh, megaport hosts that have been identified with exception of Mexico, are highly developed in their anti-corruption and human rights frameworks vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Now, that’s for many reasons, not, not least of which I suspect is that as we moved into this era that we were awarding megaport to South Africa and Russia, and Brazil and Qatar under this new anti-corruption human rights movement, the scandals just exploded.

Okay? The perceived remedy it seems. Was to only give the games to countries that already have pretty good corruption and human rights frameworks in place. Not, not perfect and not without room for improvement certainly, but unbalance better relative to other countries. What we’ve gained by doing that is a reduction in the risk.

What we’ve lost is the opportunity to effectuate reforms and we have to ask ourselves, do we want megaport now to be what they once were, which is controlled by the wealthiest, most advanced countries? Or do we want megaport to be more inclusive, recognizing we’re incurring risk, but also with that risk comes an opportunity for reform.

It’s a hard question in my mind anyway.

[00:36:18] Jill: So do you think with the IOCs new bidding process, That basically takes it from a beauty contest to, Hey, we’re gonna work with you as a city and talk about when you’re ready to host. Do you think some of those conversations are happening because we are talking about co like India wants to host the games Indonesia wants to host the games and they probably have some of these issues, but are they talking about that ahead of time before they become like real big contenders so that the I o C avoids

[00:36:48] Andy Spalding: that?

I, yeah. I think the reform bidding process can only help this effort because we do need to have those conversations. And in countries, a country like India where I’ve spent a lot of time the thought of hosting Megaport event has a lot of appeal. We would have to expect India to replicate something like Qatar, where we said we’re expecting major, major reforms.

In connection, at least with the hosting of the event. And rather than waiting until the scandal explodes and it all hits the fan, and it’s all spread all over the world, we wanna see you address these now in a preventative way. Whether those conversations are occurring, I don’t know. I’m fairly confident that these games would not be awarded to high risk environments without strong commitments to reforms because I just, think our tolerance for scandal is, is pretty low at this point.

but I’m not at those tables and I don’t know, maybe you have a different impression of, of how that’s likely to play out.

[00:37:51] Alison: So we’ve got three games awarded right now for the future. We’ve got Paris, Milan four rather LA and Brisbane. What worries you about each of them?

[00:38:02] Andy Spalding: So I think with Paris it’s almost too early to tell in relation to the host city contract anyway, because we just didn’t give them enough support to operationalize this contract on the corruption human rights issues.

Paris is interesting because the, the games were awarded in the same year that Paris went through a major anti-corruption reform movement and a major human rights reform movement. So, I would expect the Paris Games to go reasonably well. We we’re seen labor standards already, and I will tell you that insiders in Megaport labor have said to me more than once, Qatar has been vastly more cooperative on the labor piece than Paris.

QAR has given us more access. QAR has been willing to talk about reforms. QAR has just been more cooperative. You see much more buy-in on the labor reform piece than you have seen in Paris. Okay. , that’s Paris. Moving forward to Milan. The corruption risks are real there. And you even see in the Milan hosted contract an additional provision in the anti-corruption portion of the contract that in effect raises the possibility of the involvement of mafia and all the corruption risks that follow from that.

Now, I, I wanna be careful to avoid stereotypes. it’s awkward, but this is in the contract a clause. I don’t have it in front of me now, but can only be read to suggest we see particular risks based on past events that have been hosted and scandals that have arisen. And so I think I think the corruption risk with Milan is gonna be a, a unique one to tackle and we’ll see what kind of measures get put in place.

I think with the United States in 2028, , it’s gonna be all on the human rights side. We have to recognize that love ’em or hate ’em. The United States is a global leader in anti-corruption compliance. I expect we’ll do pretty well there. We are also a laggard on human rights due diligence. And so the idea that companies would have [00:40:00] obligations to incur the costs, as we’ve described, to implement programs that will reduce human rights risk in their supply chains.

Americans don’t do that. We don’t talk like that. That’s a, that’s not a familiar concept in Western Europe. You see that France and Germany have both adopted laws that require companies above a certain size to develop these human rights due diligence programs. The European Union is now looking at a draft resolution that would require all countries in the European Union to do the same.

So there’s a lot of momentum in Western Europe. There’s none in the United States. . And so what we’ll see in the US I think are two kinds of, of human rights controversies. The one is the question of what are the obligations of companies to, to adopt preventative measures? And then the other is just the kinds of human rights issues that lurk in the background of a US hosted event in the same way that for example, in China with forced labor in certain provinces became an issue that was widely discussed.

The games didn’t really impact that issue, but that was an issue we talked about. Well, there’re gonna be a lot of issues that are gonna be talked about in the United States that from a western European standpoint, seem absolutely crazy. Gun violence in the, in the light of the recent event is gonna be very, very serious.

the fear of gun violence among foreign fans is gonna be very high. And how do we reduce the risk of gun violence related to the event without militarizing it in a way that compounds the fear? How do we reduce the risk of gun violence without just pulling out bigger guns? That’s gonna be very difficult.

Whether it’s fans coming from China who perceive that all Amer, I’ve, I’ve talked to mid-career professionals in China who have a perception that all Americans bring guns everywhere they go. That’s the perception of our country. That perception’s getting worse. I’ve talked to English soccer fans who will point out that in England, the majority of police officers do not carry guns at all.

The very visual of a security guard standing there with a gun is scary to many people in the world. And as the, as these gun violence incidents arise, this is gonna be very serious. uh, Race relations police brutality, relatedly is gonna be a very serious concern. And then there are gonna be broader concerns in the background.

I think it, as the composition of the Supreme Court has changed, and a number of the protections that existed at the federal level for decades are going to be more limited relation to abortion or L g BT Q rights or race relations. That’s gonna be very widely criticized. Capital punishment is gonna receive a lot of criticism from the European press, and so we in the United States probably don’t appreciate the magnitude of the human rights criticism that is coming.

And in the list I just described, I didn’t even mention undocumented labor. In the United States, we talk a lot about controlling the flow of prospective laborers into the country. We talk a lot about the borders. We don’t talk very much about how those immigrants once here are treated while working as undocumented labor.

What are their rights? What are their protections? What are their salaries? What’s their freedom of movement, et cetera, et cetera. the human trafficking discussion is gonna get very big both on the labor trafficking side and on the sex trafficking side. And, and so a lot’s coming in 2028.

2020 eight’s gonna be a big, big event.

[00:43:22] Jill: How much do you think that can change? Because in the US we also have an attitude of we’re the us we don’t really care what you

[00:43:30] Andy Spalding: think. Right? Well, and wouldn’t that be interesting if it turned out that Qatar cared much more about what the world thought than the United States did?

That would be a a, a strange juxtaposition. But it is true that we ha this, this culture of us exceptionalism is going to really rise into relief with both 2026 and 2028. Do we care that capital punishment is thought to be barbaric and associated with authoritarian and, underdeveloped regimes?

We may not. I think we do. We care, to which extent do we care about labor trafficking? We’re gonna find out. We don’t talk about it very much, but we’re gonna have to, we care about sex trafficking. Are we doing anything about it? Are we caring enough to do anything about it? Do we have meaningful measures in place?

That is an area where there’s a law of talk now, and there are gonna be some new initiatives for 2026 and 2028. On gun violence, we may not care, but even if we care, do we have the faintest idea what to do? . So, it’s, there’s gonna be a us versus the world mentality or dialogue. And it might surprise us how closely it resembles the China versus the world Russia versus the world dialogue, you might say Qatar versus the world.

But actually, I don’t think it was a Qatar versus the world dynamic on some issues, LGBTQ issues in particular. That was, that was the dynamic. But on the labor stuff, it really wasn’t. it’s gonna be a moment.

[00:44:55] Jill: How much does an OCG have the ability to [00:45:00] move that wheel or to move that, that line

[00:45:03] Andy Spalding: forward?

Yes. So the OCG has tremendous ability to impose requirements on third. on companies. It has tremendous ability to adopt compliance programs, both within itself and among third parties, both on the anti-corruption side and the human rights side. What’s unsettled is, is what are the enforcement mechanisms?

If the O COGS policies are perceived to be unrealistic and companies just don’t adopt them, what can the OCG actually do about it? That will also be a question we have to dis to discuss in the US context 2026 and 2028, because we don’t want to just have these contractual requirements to adopt compliance and due diligence programs that are ignored to make them meaningful.

One, they have to be reasonable, and then two, they have to be enforceable. And those are two big questions. We’re gonna work on those in the next few years. so I think the OCG is the right place to start. and there will, there will be reforms, almost certainly how impactful they are in changing behavior.

That that is a question that a variety of stakeholders are gonna have to engage with. If we’re, if we’re gonna see some, some results.

[00:46:10] Jill: Andy, thank you so much. This has been j I think just the tip of the iceberg for us in looking at this issue. So thank you for, for talking with us and bringing it to our attention.

[00:46:19] Alison: Your watch and steak dinner will be in the mail,

[00:46:22] Andy Spalding: Okay. I accept no Bris. Did I not make that clear? ? No. This, these are important conversations and we’re gonna have a lot of them in the next few years and I’m grateful to, to be a part of it. Thank you.

Thank you so much Andy. We will have links to Andy’s website at the University of Richmond, as well as the link to the task force if you want to explore that more. Hey, don’t forget, book Club is coming up and we are reading inaugural Ballers by Andrew Marinas. We are also having a free q and a with Andrew on Monday, March 27th at 9:00 PM Eastern Time, 8:00 PM Central.

It is free, but we do ask that you sign up in order to send you the link to the stream event. So to rsvp, email us at flame live pot gmail.com and put Book Club in the subject.

Seoul 1988 History Moment

[00:47:06] Jill: That sound means it is time for our history moment all year long. We are looking at Seoul 1988 as it is the 35th anniversary of those games. Alison, your turn for a story. What are you gonna, are you gonna knock me out with something ?

Well, we’re talking corruption, so we’re talking boxing. . Nice. and what many people consider to be the most corrupt fight in Olympic history, and that is saying so.

So Roy Jones Jr. Was an American boxer and he competed in the light middleweight division. He breezed through the early rounds and was the favorite in the gold medal match against the home country. South Korea’s Park Sea Hoon Jones dominated the match. He landed 86 punches to Parks 32 Park had two standing eight counts, and the referee gave him two warning.

Guess who won the gold medal?

Not

[00:48:08] Jill: the guy who should have won. Not the guy who controlled the fight.

[00:48:12] Alison: Exactly. So the match was awarded to the South Korean in a three to two split decision. The judges were reportedly bribed, but after a year long investigation, both the I O C and our good friend aba, the Boxing Federation, found no evidence of bribery or corrupt.

That’s not

where the story ends. However, I, I would hope not because how, how do you explain such a lopsided match having the wrong

decision? Okay, so Carl Hsve, who was the Secretary General of aba, also had a little side job with East German Secret Police, the Stazi. So, oh yeah, it just, your, your normal IBA side gig

So after German reunification, a lot of those Stai records became public, one of them being theirs. And in that record, he talked about South Korean’s officials being bribed. Really, and that the South Koreans had bribed multiple judges, and not only did the Boxing Federation know about it, they were complicit in making this happen.

Wanted a home country gold medal and participated in the coverup.

But I, I mean,

[00:49:32] Jill: Of all the sports to pick for a home victory, I

[00:49:35] Alison: think they went for low hanging fruit . So Parky Hoon for his part was embarrassed by the outcome of the match. In the ring when they raised his arm, he really just looked downtrodden.

He hung his head on the podium. And in the year since he has shared in many interviews that he wishes he had never won the match and that he deserved the [00:50:00] silver medal And that Roy Jones really deserved the gold medal.

[00:50:04] Jill: Oh, that’s gotta be tough to live. To be quite

[00:50:07] Alison: honest, to be a gold medalist and not feel like you earned it, and then to find out you did not in fact earn it.

It’s tough. That is any corruption.

TKFLASTAN Update

[00:50:16] Alison: welcome. .

[00:50:25] Jill: Now it is the time of the show where we check in with our team, keep the flame alive. These are past guests of the show, fans of the show who make up our citizenship of shk.

John Schuster and his team are competing at the US Curling National Championships in Denver, now through February 11th. The team is currently three and two with a couple games left in the first round.

So, go down, go John and go. Team. You can pull it out.

[00:50:52] Alison: Evan Dunfee is competing in the Australian 20 kilometer Race Walk Championships in Melbourne on February 12th. He did win BC Athletics track and Field Athlete of the year and he is one of the first five athletes selected to represent Canada in the world. Athletics champs this August in Budapest.

[00:51:11] Jill: And listener Brianna is on the u s a lush Junior National Development Team and has been training, training in Gang South Korea in preparation for the Youth Olympic Games in 2024.

That’s exciting.

[00:51:25] Alison: Yes. And, and in the Facebook group, they posted a picture of the group and I said, oh no. Those beautiful children getting ready to slam their faces into the ice.

Paris 2024 News

[00:51:35] Alison: let’s start with the bad news from 2024 first. Yes,

[00:51:44] Jill: yes. Lots of boycott talk. So, Lay it out for me cuz I’m confused because there’s a lot of Yes, we’re in, no, we’re out. Well we, we consider, we won’t consider, we don’t know. Okay.

[00:51:55] Alison: So, so far the National Olympic Committees of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia have joined Ukraine and announced they will boycott Paris 2024.

If Russia and Belarus are allowed to. , the United States and Canada have so far announced that they are neutral in this situation. I’m sure that will change as we go along, but here’s where it gets interesting. The I O C has threatened that these countries will be in violation of the Olympic charter if they choose to boycott,

[00:52:27] Jill: which kills me because Russia broke the Olympic truce. by starting this war. So

[00:52:35] Alison: But, and individual members are now getting themselves into trouble individual i o c members by announcing for one side or the. So we’re gonna see this as long as the war between Russia and Ukraine continue, we are going to see this get be just an absolute political football.

In the meantime, the government of the United Kingdom will host a summit o over 30 countries to discuss the issue this week.

[00:53:04] Jill: Oh, this’ll be interesting.

[00:53:06] Alison: The United States, as far as I could tell, is not one of those 30 countries also.

[00:53:11] Jill: Interesting.

[00:53:12] Alison: Yes, so, and it’s not just Europe, it is Asia and South America are involved as well.

So this is not going away. And our friend

mayor Anne Hidalgo, had something to say as well. I loved this.

[00:53:29] Jill: She doesn’t want ’em there either. Mayor Paris says, I don’t want them there. And there was an article in the Associated Press who that said, Hey, originally you said that they could take part under a nu neutral flag. But then she had another interview with Fran Info recently and she backpedal and said, no, they should not be allowed.

[00:53:49] Alison: But then she also realized that the I O C has a final say on who gets.

Right. She has absolutely no say.

Right, but you don’t

[00:53:58] Jill: wanna take off your host, do you?

[00:54:02] Alison: Certainly not the Mayor . And certainly, yeah. This is it. This is, we talked about Tokyo. We thought the heat was going to be the story, and it ended up being covid O so far, this is the story. What’s happening to Russia. It is,

it is, and it’s a shame that this is the story and nobody wants it to be the story and you, it’s a very tough decision. You’re gonna hurt somebody either way with whatever you decide.

but you gotta make a decision quick because you’re, it’s just going to prolong the situation. And if you have all these countries back out now what does that do to sports in general?

And can you make a decision quickly? Because the situation is constantly changing. Mm-hmm. ,

who knows, but we’ve got qualifications on now, so.

If you boycott [00:55:00] now, you don’t get to qualify. If you wait in boycott. Now we have all these places to fill. If we say Russia can’t come, there’s a whole bunch of very sad athletes and angry and one, one angry country. I don’t know. . Gimme some good news. Good news.

[00:55:21] Jill: Oh, we have a lot of good news though. We do have a lot of good news. So we got news from the torch relay. They have released the starting details. Now the flame will sail from Greece to Marseille to start the torch relay. How awesome is this

[00:55:40] Alison: gonna be?

But also so nice that we are clearly gonna have a lot of water elements. , we, we’ve talked about the opening ceremony being on the send and now the beginning of the torch relay in Marsai, we got water everywhere.

[00:55:54] Jill: So they will have a big festival on the keys at the old port sponsored by torch, relay sponsor Coca-Cola.

And then the torch will take off from there to go around France and we will find out the rest of the relay route in May.

[00:56:09] Alison: So, water, water everywhere, and only Coke to. I can deal with that.

[00:56:17] Jill: other news from France, the pictograms came out this.

[00:56:22] Alison: and they were so surprising.

they are.

[00:56:25] Jill: I was reading an inside the games article that was written by somebody who was at the press conference and Paris 2024 said, these aren’t really, they aren’t pictograms as much as they are coats of arms.

[00:56:38] Alison: So, because most of them have four

sections. Mm-hmm. , they’re very detailed.

[00:56:43] Jill: They’re very, very detailed. In a coat of arms kind of way. That’s kind of cool in a, I need to find something kind of way. Little busy.

[00:56:54] Alison: Agreed. These are not going to play very well. I think if you really blow them up or shrink them down.

But they did go a completely different direction because instead of being stick figure person based, they are focusing on the equipment used. For the event.

[00:57:11] Jill: Yeah. And we haven’t seen that really since Mexico City 1968

[00:57:16] Alison: most. And that was only the second pictogram cuz they started it in Tokyo.

[00:57:20] Jill: And yeah, most games do use a figure of some sort for most of the pictograms. Michael Payne or Shani in marketing said on Twitter that he thought the design was very modern, though he was surprised it did not have a greater French identity. So he wonders if the pictograms will be the real identity for every sport, or if it, it will quote the great mascot freeze takeover and quote, because they’ve got all those freezes doing all the sports, which are very.

So maybe they will integrate both of them and use the freeze for wayfinding more so, and then use these coats of arms while you’re there. But they’re, they are quite cool, quite, quite interesting. We’re having a nice little discussion in our Facebook group about them. So,

[00:58:09] Alison: I’m kind of surprised at Michael saying that about that they’re not particularly French because I actually thought they were quite French because of that code of arms element to it.

Hmm. That it sort of harken back to old Europe.

[00:58:22] Jill: Other visual information. Blue is going to be the dominant color in stadiums, I guess for Tokyo. They’ve really focused on red, but here will be a blue Olympics. The stud France, for which will host athletics will have a purple look and a purple track,

[00:58:41] Alison: which made me realize I never noticed the color of the track before.

Right, because I always think it’s that reddish orangey thing. It’s always

that way, that brick color. But now it’s gonna be purple .

[00:58:54] Jill: I, I see surface talk coming ,

[00:58:58] Alison: I, I see myself singing little red Corvette in the stadium.

Milan-Cortina 2026 News

[00:59:05] Alison: I think Milan Cortina was trying to steal some Paris

Thunder today.

[00:59:14] Jill: They might have been. It is the annual San Remo Festival and Milan Cortina likes to announce. Things at this festival and they would be the things that audiences can vote on. So first they did the logo, then they did the song. And this year it is selecting the mascots.

We have two mascots whittled down from 1600 ideas received and. They are very different. I will say this , so the first option, the first pair, these are, we aren’t having the same mascot for each one, but they are related. And so the first pair [01:00:00] is floral

I, I am guessing that the Olympic mascot is on the left and the Paralympic is on the right.

So for the first option, it is.

Flower with the pedals on the head as a hat.

[01:00:15] Alison: It looks like a white point Setta plant as a person. Okay, that sounds good. And, and then the Paralympic looks like a lily as a person.

Do you I think it looks more like a, like a,

like a lily of the valley. , do you see that with the bud? Oh,

I’m thinking Kello Lilly.

Okay. Okay. And they have boots on and they have long turtlenecks on for their stems, and then their head has the element of the flower on it.

Prayer two is an animal pair. And they are both in the, would you say like muskrat family? Mink ,

there are two little muskrat of some kind or minks with helmets with the most confused expressions on their faces. I think they made us as mascots.

because one’s really short.

one is taller, but they, and one is taller. They either have very, very big black eyes, or they’re wearing sunglasses and I want to call them, let me date myself. I wanna call them Starsky and Hutch right now.

I was thinking Smokey in the Bear .

It’s Smokey

In the Bandit. Oh, smokey in the Bandit. That’s right. . It’s

smokey in the Bandit, so Okay. We’ve dated ourselves, blue helmets.

The Olympic one is white with a, and they’re both standing on their legs, so they’re, they’re very. They’re kind of cute, but the, the Olympic one is white with a little black tip on his tail, and then the Paralympic one is brown with a, a white spot on his chest and or white spot on its chest, and also a little black tip on the tail.

So we will be

able to vote on these. Everybody can vote on which pair you would like. My biggest criticism on both of them. Well, I actually like both of these. in a connection way. Like I think they’ll be really cute when we get them going, but I don’t see how either of them connect to the elements.

We’ve already selected futo, the font and the symbol, and I, I was expecting something a little more new agey, but. So much better than Neve and Glee from Torino.

Think they learned their lesson.

Holy cannoli. Those were bad. So these, I think once we get smiles on the little animals, , they’ll be much cuter.

Cuz right now they look like they’re about to get hit by a truck .

Very true, very true.

[01:02:58] Jill: I, I don’t know if you could vote for a pair right now, who would you vote for?

[01:03:02] Alison: I’d vote for the plants.

[01:03:04] Jill: Would you? I would vote for the animals because the plants make me think of spring and I understand that they are probably wintertime plants, but they make me think of spring, which makes me think of global warming, which makes me sad about the Olympics in winter.

[01:03:17] Alison: I guess because the colors do somewhat match the, the 26

mm-hmm. . Oh yeah, that’s true. That’s true. The colors, cuz they have they’re, they’re green based. That does match. And also because they have eyes and mouth that you can, I connect with them a little bit better than I do. I do like the animals so well.

Yeah.

The animals. Look like they’re about to be roadkill, .

[01:03:43] Jill: They look like they’re going down a bobsled run.

[01:03:46] Alison: they’re just standing there on their hin legs like, woo. A bobsled is about to run me over .

So we shall see what these are like. Well,

[01:03:56] Jill: uh,

get it posted up in the Facebook group. We want to know what you have to think about them.

Winter 2030 News

[01:04:01] Jill: We do have Winter 2030 News. The associate, I didn’t see this before we came on. The Associated Press is reporting that Sweden is weighing a bid for 2030. There was a meeting with the Swedish Olympic Committee and the I O C in January, and they talked about the possibility, and this was a quote that I loved.

There was reportedly discontent in Stockholm over how the Swedish bid was treated in the contest for the 2026 games. You don’t say yes, but the Swedish Olympic and Paralympic committees and the Swedish Sports Confederation are going to start a feasibility study for 2030, and they will make a report of that study on April 20th.

So there is a possibility that they could be in.

I

[01:04:50] Alison: have been begging Sweden to forgive us. And, and maybe

[01:04:55] Jill: it worked, maybe we’ll see. They have pretty much everything they need [01:05:00] to host this, especially since they will probably still do the sliding track in Latvia option as well, because that was really cost effective.

[01:05:10] Alison: I’m so excited. I did not see this before we came on, and I was reading this as we were coming to it going, did you put this in as a joke to recover after the, the mascots? ? Like that was so disappointing and upsetting that you wanted to cheer me up . But this is fantastic. But this upsets me. Sweden has made eight failed bids, right?

For the winter games. That surprises me. But yes, we need another Nordic games. To have a really good solid budget conscious host who’s gonna flat pack these Olympics. And we’re gonna put it together with an Allen wrench and Stockholm can do that. Great.

And give, if

[01:05:51] Jill: Salt Lake City would host again, give them a little buffer from LA and give Sapporo a chance to get back into the mix as well.

Cuz I think they need a few years. get to a place where they want to be involved. in, in the Winter Olympics.

[01:06:05] Alison: Hey, speaking of corruption, ,

[01:06:07] Jill: well, I guess we’ve come full circle. That must mean it is time to give a shout out to our patrons and supporters who keep our flame alive. The February Patron show will be up soon.

All of our patron shows until Pariss 2024 are gonna talk about different rule changes for the sports program that you will notice when you watch the next games. We’re talking water polo and para TaeKwonDo this month, so be on the lookout for that in your patron feed. And if you would like to get in on that, you can find out how to do so@flamealivepod.com slash.

That is going to do it for us this week. Let us know what you think of the anti-corruption measures and human trafficking measures we talked about with Andy and what you think they’ll will happen in the future with future games.

[01:06:58] Alison: You can email us at flame alive pod gmail.com.

Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it. Our social handle is at Flame Alive Pod. And be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook. And one more thing. Don’t forget to get our weekly newsletter filled with other fun stories about this week’s episode. And you can sign up for that@flamelivepod.com.

[01:07:27] Jill: And if you wondered what happened to Reiner Klim, it was in last week’s newsletter episode. The e equestrian we talked about on last week’s show. I loved that story. I did not know what happened, and you filled the hole in my heart. I will say . So get in on that action too. Next week we are going to take a winter break, but we will have more excitement with more of our Olympic friends.

We will be talking with our buddies Down under in Australia, the folks from Off the podium will be on, so be sure to tune in for that. And we will get some scoop on Brisbane 2032 I think. In the meantime, thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.