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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Spotlight

Reverse Spin Doctor

A look at the day that was and at what lies ahead at the Summer Games

July 23, 1996|BILL DWYRE

Day 2 of Bob Brennan's feet to the fire:

The press chief for the Atlanta organizing committee faced the press, not to mention unhappy IOC members who were mostly biting their tongues, in a third consecutive morning briefing Monday. These are regularly scheduled sessions at all Olympics but usually are brief meetings attended by a handful of reporters.

At these Atlanta Games, which are fast becoming a primer on how not to do it, Brennan is the front man, taking heat for all sorts of things he probably has no idea about.

It is his job to do the spin, to smooth the waters. And here, with waves fit for surfing, Brennan is staying afloat as best he can. Samples:

Question: One of our athletes, Steve Redgrave (a triple gold medalist from Great Britain), had to wait two hours for a bus yesterday at the Village. Can you tell me the specific circumstances of that?

Brennan: That problem is hopefully solved. Mr. Redgrave was very forceful in expressing his displeasure with the transportation arrangements, and as I understand it he had every right to be.

Question: What is behind the problems of Info '96 (the ACOG results reporting system)? What will the cost be to fix it?

Brennan: I don't know the costs. They are irrelevant. We will fix it.

Question: We've heard reports of complaints from Ronstad Staffing Services employees about problems with payment, training and staffing. Can you comment on these?

Brennan: This is not particularly surprising. We have 85,000 people working for us, and if we all worked as a well-oiled machine with no complaints, that would be quite a surprise.

Then there was, perhaps, the best inadvertent funny line of the Games.

Brennan: There is a delegation here from Nagano, Japan. These delegations are learning lessons from our experiences.

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