Alex Gilady looks forward to Beijing

Israel's IOC rep happy ahead of what he hopes will be best Olympics ever.

gilady, alex 88 ap (photo credit: )
gilady, alex 88 ap
(photo credit: )
The Beijing Olympics are still four weeks away, but Alex Gilady is already in China and will remain there until the start of the Games on August 8 to make sure all is going as planned. The 66-year-old, who has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1994, has plenty to worry about ahead of the Games. Not only does he have IOC ministerial responsibility over all the television services at the Games, but Gilady is also senior vice-president at NBC Sports, which holds Olympic broadcast rights in the US, and will be called into action by the Americans should any crisis arise during the Games. The first Israeli to be a member of the IOC, Gilady will be experiencing his 10th summer Games next month and, despite all of the recent criticism, has no doubt the IOC made the right decision by awarding Beijing the Olympics. "We are very pleased with the fact that we selected China," Gilady told The Jerusalem Post. "Seven years ago people couldn't understand why we did so, but we have already brought around changes in the country. It's much easier now to get a visa, their press has opened up and they're treating foreign journalists much better." Gilady, who while at NBC Sports has been a member of the award-winning teams that earned Emmys for producing the Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Salt Lake City Olympics, began his sports media career in 1964 at Yedioth Ahronoth, before joining the newly established Israel State Television in 1969. He first joined NBC in 1981 after successfully producing the coverage of Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem in 1977, and the subsequent Israel-Egypt peace talks. As a member of the IOC's coordination commission Gilady has kept a close eye on the entire preparation process in Beijing. But despite all the hype surrounding these Olympics wants to wait until the end of the closing ceremony before declaring that this summer's Games are the best ever. "The Olympics are extremely important to the Chinese. This is the coming out party of the new China. They wanted the 2000 Games and it hurt them very much to lose out, but they just weren't ready yet," Gilady said. "They invested some 42 billion dollars in the last seven years just in infrastructure. The Olympic Games are the most difficult, elaborate and complicated event to organize in the world. A new factory with 1000 workers needs two-three months to work properly. "Here we have 220,000 workers and competitors and everything has got to work from the first second. "The grade for excellence will be given to the Chinese at the end of the Games. It's not that important to count the days to the opening ceremony, I count the days to the closing ceremony on August 24." Gilady then reflected on the tragedy of the 1972 Olympics, when 11 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists after they broke into the athlete's village. "At the first Olympics I attended in Munich the organization was immaculate in the first 10 days, but we ended up coming back to Israel with 11 coffins. "You can only say at the end of the event how the Games went and that's why I refuse to say that these will be the biggest, prettiest and best Olympics ever. I know that this is what the Chinese are aiming and working for. "They're trying to do everything better than ever. For example, they decided to have five mascots because the most any Olympics had until now was four." The Olympic Committee of Israel (OCI) has come under fire recently for its decision to toughen the IOC's criteria and deny Israeli athletes a chance to compete in Beijing despite meeting the international standard. Gilady however, feels that the OCI has made the right decision and is upset with the athletes who chose to take the matter to the civil courts. "The criteria were set in 2006 and anybody who wanted to complain should have done so then. "It's very sad to see athletes taking the advice of their lawyers, on which they spend the little money they have, and taking these matters to the civil courts," Gilady said. "I feel that the OCI's policy to send only athletes who can reach the last 16 of their respected events is very just. "Years ago Israel sent athletes according to the political power of their clubs and the papers wrote that our sportsmen were given the keys to the stadium so that they can lock up when they completed their races. The current system is far better."