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In The Race For Gold

With business and sport now irretrievably entwined, there's big money in medals. On your marks, please

By Penny Crisp

"Citius, Altius, Fortius,"
(faster, higher, stronger)
motto from the first modern Olympic flag, unfurled in 1920

And richer. That's what it mostly boils down to these days. When the Games of the XXVII Olympiad begin in Sydney on September 15, the prevailing creed will be greed. Forget sportsmanship and fair play. Forget the sporting brotherhood of man and noble sentiments of competing only to do your best. Even national pride comes a long way down the list in terms of motivation for today's elite athletes. Going for gold is the mantra. Winning gold means more gold — in the form of official rewards, improved facilities, product endorsements and meaty bonuses. Multiple gold and you are largely set for life. You never have to chase gold again.

And how will Asia fare in this rich business? Poorly, some would say, considering it is home to three-fifths of the world's population. Badly, some might snicker, because widespread poverty does not a sporting giant make. Yet dismissive predictions may well be wrong. Led by China and ably assisted by South Korea, much of Asia wised up quite a while ago. To create gold, you have to invest some gold — which, increasingly, Asian governments are doing in their sporting programs. In investing gold, you attract gold — as big business lines up to contribute.

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