Taking a Nation to the Olympic Games

Team USA marches in during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.   AP Photo/David Davies
The opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympic Games are August 8. Many athletes have arrived in Beijing or the surrounding areas well in advance of the Games. Some have even been there for several weeks. A number of members of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) have been there for several months preparing for the Games.

The behind-the-scenes work and coordination that it takes to send Team USA (aka the American Delegation) to an Olympic Games event is inconceivable. Once a sport has qualified athletes for the team and has selected staff for the Games, those people become members of the USA Olympic Team.

This means the team is no longer governed by the National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport, but is now under the direct guidance of the USOC. In this column I'll give you a glimpse of some of the behind-the-scenes USOC support staff areas of focus.

Accreditation/Delegation Review

In an earlier column, I wrote that space at the Olympic Games is limited. It is not possible for each nation to take an unlimited number of athletes and support staff to the Games. Each sport submits a request to the USOC for the number of athletes and supporting staff members the sport would like to bring.

Direct staff, such as team leaders and coaches, are usually dedicated to each specific sport. Indirect staff, such as doctors, athletic trainers, chefs and bike mechanics, are more than likely shared between sports.

Some of the staff members are given full credentials and others have limits put on their credentials.

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