By Claire Zovko
Within seconds of stepping off the plane at Heathrow airport for my first in-person Olympic Games experience, I was greeted by two cheerful and smiling “Games Makers” welcoming me to London. Their enthusiasm was typical of the 12,000+ volunteers that truly made the London Games spectacular. Volunteers were strategically placed all over town at the tube stops, major intersections, tourist attractions, and Olympic venues. The volunteers always seemed to be there just when I needed them, eager to help. At the airport, I already noticed the plethora of Olympic sponsor advertisements such as McDonald’s, BP and Coke. I was pleasantly surprised that many of the advertisements featured Paralympic athletes alongside recognizable Olympic athletes.
While in London, I helped teach an Olympic Games & The Law course sponsored by the University of Miami School of Law. Our students came from law schools all over the United States seeking to acquire a few credits during the summer term. As an added bonus, the students had the chance to experience the Olympic Games up close and personally. Each morning, we had three hours of class. The rest of the day was open for the students to explore London and the biggest sporting event in the world, after doing their homework, of course.
Several guest speakers who were intimately involved in the Olympic Games addressed the class. First, Olympic Gold Medalist and USA Track & Field (“USATF”) Olympic relay coach, Jon Drummond, spoke to the class about his leadership role on the USATF Athlete Advisory Committee. Additionally, Jon explained the USATF Olympic Team selection dispute resolution procedures. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) ad Hoc division had 12 on-site arbitrators available around the clock to hear Olympic disputes. We had the honor of hearing from attorney Maidie Oliveau, the only female CAS arbitrator, who shared stories about the cases being heard during the Games. The United States Olympic Committee Athlete Ombudsman, John Ruger, discussed his role assisting American athletes with issues, disputes, and grievances. The students learned firsthand about the Olympic bid process from Wendy Hillard, a Hall of Fame American gymnast and a member of the New York City 2012 Olympic bid. Additionally, Jamaican Olympic Medalist Grace Jackson, USA Fencing President-Elect Donald Anthony, and USATF Associate Director of International Teams Aaron McGuire, all provided unique, insider perspectives on the business of the Olympic Games. I had the opportunity to visit the CAS ad Hoc headquarters where all Olympic disputes were heard. The Court turned out to be a hotel meeting room set up with tables and chairs in a rectangular formation. Each table was equipped with microphones and headsets. On the far end of the room, there were translation booths, like the United Nations. During the 2012 Olympic Games, CAS heard 11 cases. The day I stopped by CAS, the triathlon case surfaced and was to be heard in a few hours. See link for more case info: http://www.tas-cas.org/en/infogenerales.asp/4-3-6237-1092-4-1-1/5-0-1092-15-1-1/ .
This is the first of a three part blog series on my London 2012 Olympic experience. The following two posts will discuss the Olympic Venues and other Olympic related events around town.