Chapter 1: Rings Side Seat

A new President, Juan Antonio Samaranch, is elected at the IOC Session on the eve of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. The outlook for the IOC is so grim, that Samaranch even wondered whether to stand down shortly after his election. Most commentators were forecasting the demise of the Olympic Games – the IOC was close to bankruptcy; the Games had been highjacked by global political agendas with repeated boycotts, and few if any cities wanted to bid for future Games.

Twenty years later, the Olympic Games have become the most successful and largest event in the world; a multi billion $ business, with the greatest cities in the world competing for the honour to host the Games.

In 2008, the Beijing Olympic Games will make history, ushering in a new era in global commerce and China’s relationship with the international community. After decades of isolation, the China-s leaders see the Games as a key instrument of change – both symbolic and economic – and are investing over $40 billion to stage the event.

Association with the Olympic games and the five Olympic Rings, the most recognised symbol in the world, can help to define a nations identity, make or break the image of global corporations, and provide the foundations for media empires.

This is the inside story of how an organisation, with a heritage of nearly 3,000 years, stepped back from the brink of bankruptcy and extinction, and in less than two decades became one of the most powerful business and political organisations in the world.

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