Sochi 2014

NBCUniversal celebrates 100-day countdown to Sochi Olympics with increased promotion (videos)

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NBC Olympics and the networks for NBCUniversal will increase Sochi Olympic programming to coincide with the 100-day countdown to the Winter Games on Oct. 29.

A new phase of multi-platform marketing will be highlighted by a 20-channel promotional Roadblock in the 8 p.m. ET/PT hour on Oct. 29. In addition, NBC Sports Group and the networks of NBCU will participate at the kickoff of the USOC’s Road to Sochi Tour in New York City’s Times Square earlier in the day.

“The 100-day mark is the moment when our considerable Olympic campaign kicks into another gear,” said John Miller, CMO, NBC Sports Group. “For Sochi, we will use the full force of America’s largest media company to market the biggest Winter Olympics ever, being hosted by the biggest country in the world. As a Symphony priority, it’s invaluable to have so many parts of the company — 20 channels, 65 websites and the full strength of Comcast — playing together with singular focus to make our campaign come to life and make the Sochi Olympics a massive television event.”

Coverage of the Olympic Winter Games will begin one night before the Opening Ceremony with the start of competition in Sochi — men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle, women’s moguls and team figure skating.

Here are more highlights of NBCUniversal’s promotional plans from Oct. 29 leading up to the Olympics:

  • The NBC Peacock “bug” with the Olympic rings will appear on NBC and other NBCU networks, including NBCSN, with more frequency.
  • Locally, NBCUniversal will work with its family of over 230 local broadcast affiliates to air locally-focused spots leading up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, as well as air local news coverage and specific promos about local Olympic athletes and events in their regions.
  • NBCUniversal will air spots that aim to help demonstrate the breadth of digital streaming coverage for the upcoming Sochi Games, and how customers of MVPDs and other distributors of NBCUniversal’s Olympic networks can access that content both in and out of the home on multiple platforms.
  • Comcast, NBCUniversal’s parent company, will use its wide breadth of digital and cable access to reach its customers in over 22 million homes to distribute Olympic-related promotional materials, as well as direct mailings, video guides and video-on demand features all related to NBC’s coverage of the Games.
  • In the final three and a half weeks leading up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, NBCUniversal will prioritize its Olympic promotional ads across its 18 cable channels. NBCUniversal will air spots to push audiences to the first primetime broadcast on Feb. 6 and the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 7.
  • Leading up to the Games, Olympic promotion will be featured in 14 different out-of-home networks across 18 different outlets, increasing viewer reach by 50% versus the out-of-market delivery for the 2012 London Summer Games. Shoppers and commuters will begin seeing NBC Olympic promotional spots via out-of-home marketing, which will be featured in national retail stores, including Costco and Walmart, in-dining networks, New York City taxi cabs, and PATH trains.

The push toward 100 days out began last weekend with the debut of four Olympic spots narrated by “Revolution” and “Breaking Bad” star Giancarlo Esposito.

“I’m a longtime athlete and have never been a professional and never played sports in school,” Esposito said. “So when I was a young boy the highlight of my life was to watch the summer Olympics, and you had to wait those four years … and then to see the winter Olympics, it was one of the biggest highlights of my life because I always wanted to be able to compete that way.”

You can view the four spots below:

Care

“What I love about the Olympics is that they’re people who are the common man and woman, everyday people who have the opportunity and the chance to prove to themselves that there is something inside them, a dream that can be fulfilled, and to me the Olympics for America is everything,” Esposito said. “I’m a big runner, a big cyclist and in the things that I do, I hear the Olympics music year round in my head … when I’m running in the park around Ladybird Lake here in Austin, Texas. ”

Trade

“I became a skier from watching television and watching skiers, and Lindsey Vonn has become one of my favorites as has been Bode Miller,” Esposito said. “Some of what Bode Miller is — a skier who I can relate to because he was never perfect — he was unorthodox and he could hit a gate and would be on … go from one leg to the other. There was never any opportunity for him to win that race a few years ago (2010 Olympics super combined), but the physical ability that he had not to crash and to get down that course, to me was everything, so even in his failure I was inspired.”

The Same

“To meet guys like Franz Klammer, the winningest skier in all of history, who you just don’t know how he could get his body to move that way and a guy who is just so lovely,” Esposito said.

Dream

“I just can’t wait to watch and be inspired again,” Esposito said.

U.S. Olympic Trials broadcast schedule

Curling siblings secure mixed doubles Olympic quota spot for U.S.

Rich Harmer/USA Curling
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The United States will be represented when mixed doubles curling makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang, thanks, in part, to the performance of siblings Becca and Matt Hamilton at the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.

Although the Hamiltons finished well off the podium in 10th, their work, coupled with a third place finish at the 2016 World Championships by Joe Polo and Tabitha Peterson, is all the U.S. needed to lock in an Olympic spot for 2018. The bronze won by Polo and Peterson in 2016 was the first time the United States had won a world championship medal in mixed doubles curling, according to TeamUSA.org.

The Hamiltons opened the 2017 World Championships with a perfect 7-0 record through pool play, but a 6-5 loss to Finland in a match that needed extra ends took them out of contention for a medal. Wins against Hungary and Italy moved them into position to get the necessary points to land the Olympic quota spot. In their final match at the 2017 Worlds the Hamiltons fell to Russia, 5-7.

At the top of the 2017 World Championship final standings, Switzerland won the gold, Canada took silver and China left with bronze.

The eight mixed doubles team field set to compete in PyeongChang includes China, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, United States, Norway, Finland and hosts Korea. Curling begins in PyeongChang on February 8, 2018, one day ahead of the Opening Ceremony, with competition lasting throughout the entire span of the Olympic Games.

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President of National Olympic Committees association leaves FIFA post amid bribery claims

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GENEVA (AP) — FIFA Council member Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah of Kuwait is resigning from his soccer roles under pressure from allegations in an American federal court that he bribed Asian officials.

Sheikh Ahmad said Sunday in a statement he will withdraw from a May 8 election in Bahrain for the FIFA seat representing Asia, which he currently holds.

“I do not want these allegations to create divisions or distract attention from the upcoming AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and FIFA Congresses,” said the Kuwaiti royal, who denies any wrongdoing.

“Therefore, after careful consideration, I have decided it is in the best interests of FIFA and the AFC, for me to withdraw my candidacy for the FIFA Council and resign from my current football positions,” he said.

The long-time Olympic Council of Asia president contacted the ethics panels of FIFA and the IOC after the allegations were made in Brooklyn federal courthouse on Thursday.

FIFA audit committee member Richard Lai, an American citizen from Guam, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges related to taking around $1 million in bribes, including from Kuwaiti officials. The cash was to buy influence and help recruit other Asian soccer officials prepared to take bribes, Lai said in court.

Sheikh Ahmad resigned his candidacy ahead of a FIFA panel deciding whether to remove him on ethical grounds.

The FIFA Review Committee, which rules on the integrity of people seeking senior FIFA positions, has been studying the sheikh’s candidacy since the allegations emerged, The Associated Press reported on Saturday.

The FIFA ethics committee is making a separate assessment of whether to provisionally suspend the sheikh, a long-time leader of Kuwait’s soccer federation who was elected to FIFA’s ruling committee in 2015.

Resigning from his soccer positions does not necessarily put Sheikh Ahmad out of reach of FIFA ethics prosecutors and judges if any action was taken.

In 2012, former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar was banned for life by the ethics committee days after he resigned.

Bin Hammam was also clearly identified in Lai’s court hearing for having paid Lai a total of $100,000 in bribes to support the Qatari’s failed challenge to FIFA’s then-president Sepp Blatter in 2011. Bin Hammam was removed from that election contest in a Caribbean bribery case.

Sheikh Ahmad has also contacted the IOC’s ethics commission about the allegations against him, the IOC said on Saturday.

As president since 2012 of the global group of national Olympic bodies, known as ANOC, Sheikh Ahmad’s support has often been cited as key to winning Olympic election and hosting awards. The sheikh was widely credited for helping Thomas Bach win the IOC presidency in 2013.

Although Sheikh Ahmad was not named in Department of Justice and court documents last week, he has become one of the most significant casualties of the sprawling U.S. federal investigation of bribery and corruption in international soccer revealed two years ago.

The sheikh could be identified in a transcript of Lai’s court hearing which said “co-conspirator #2 was also the president of Olympic Council of Asia.” Sheikh Ahmad has been OCA president since 1991.

Co-conspirator #3 was described as having a “high-ranking” role at OCA, and also linked to the Kuwait soccer federation.

According to the published transcript, Lai claimed he “received at least $770,000 in wire transfers from accounts associated with Co-Conspirator #3 and the OCA between November of 2009 and about the fall of 2014.”

“I understood that the source of this money was ultimately Co-Conspirator #2 and on some occasion Co-Conspirator #3 told me to send him an email saying that I need funds so he could show the email to Co-Conspirator #2,” Lai said in court.

Lai admitted that he agreed to help recruit other Asian officials that voted in FIFA elections who would help Kuwait’s interests.

The Guam soccer federation leader since 2001, Lai pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. He agreed to pay more than $1.1 million in forfeiture and penalties, and will be sentenced at a later date.

The American federal investigation of corruption linked to FIFA has indicted or taken guilty pleas from more than 40 people and marketing agencies linked to soccer in the Americas since 2015.

Lai’s case marked the first major step into Asia, and suggests other soccer officials potentially recruited by the Kuwait faction could be targeted.

The Asian election for FIFA seats on May 8 in Manama, Bahrain, is the same day as a FIFA Council meeting which the sheik will not attend. The FIFA congress is held in the city three days later.

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