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Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Cameras unlikely to run for track stars

  Sprint stars Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin will be running, but the cameras will not be rolling at the Canadian Olympic track and field trials next month.

 At least not the CBC cameras, and that has Athletics Canada officials upset.

 "Track and field is one of the major sports in the Olympics and you would think they'd want to broadcast our trials a month before the Games begin," said Rob Day, who is responsible for Athletics Canada marketing. "Certainly we're disappointed."

 Particularly galling to track officials is that CBC offered to televise the event -- Aug. 11-13 in Victoria -- if financially strapped AC paid the public broadcaster $40,000-$60,000.

 "In Great Britain, the BBC is paying U.K. Athletics millions to broadcast their events," AC president John Thresher said recently. "We're supposed to pay."

 Day said track and field desperately needs TV exposure in this country, for the athletes and for the organization's corporate sponsors.

 Nancy Lee, executive director of CBC-TV Sports, said the broadcaster wanted televise the event but found the costs prohibitive. Lee said covering the meet would have been difficult logistically, given that CBC would have to ship a production truck from Vancouver.

 Lee pointed out that CBC will televise more than 40 hours of track and field this year, including coverage of the prestigious Golden League meets in Europe, and the Olympic Games, Sept.15-Oct.1, in Sydney.

 Day countered that it's more important to give Canadian athletes exposure at home than it is to broadcast European competitions that feature few Canadians.

 "We can't make everyone happy," Lee said. "We're trying to put on as many amateur and Olympic sport events as possible -- over 20 hours this summer."

 That's also a sore point with Athletics Canada. The CBC has or will broadcast Olympic trials and international events staged in Canada this year for wrestling, boxing, triathlon, swimming, table tennis, softball, judo, badminton and others, but not track and field, the unofficial king of Olympic sports.

 OPTIONS

 Lee said the Olympic-sport events that have been shown were held in Canadian cities that had major broadcast centres or production trucks already in place. She said the CBC will send some crews to Victoria to do interviews. Day said Athletics Canada is trying to line up another network to broadcast the trials.