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No Haste for Olympics Swimming Schedule: IOC
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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will not hasten to finalize the timetable for the swimming event of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an IOC official said Tuesday in Beijing.

US broadcaster NBC has requested to move the swimming finals from the evening to morning hours so that the competition can be shown live in US prime-time. The IOC executive board discussed this issue last week during its meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"We are looking at the possibility, and have not made any decision," IOC marketing commission president Gerhard Heiberg told Xinhua on the sidelines of the Beijing Olympic Sponsor Workshop.

Heiberg said the IOC is "open" to suggestions of all stakeholders and the timetable for the swimming competition will be finalized by the end of this year.

"We want to ensure the audience around the world all get a feeling that they are a part of the games," he said.

"There is a time difference between here and the US. If we could put some of the finals in the morning, that would be good for the US audience, just like the evening hours to please the audience in Australian and in Europe, so we have to be a little flexible."

NBC owns the exclusive US media rights to the Olympics, having paid 3.55 billion US dollars to cover the Games from 2000-2008.

Swimming has been one of NBC's best ratings winners in the Olympic coverage.

But Australian swimmers, coaches have voiced their opposition to the proposal.

"This is about the integrity of the sport and allowing athletes to perform to their maximum," Swimming Australia executive director Glenn Tasker told The Australian newspaper.

"To force this on them would be grossly unfair and would produce a second-rate meet."

Heiberg said the IOC will not sacrifice the athletes simply for commercial purposes.

"We don't want to do anything wrong for the athletes," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2006)

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