[video] Putin Better Get Olympic Spirit
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- "Take care of the athletes. If the athletes are unhappy the Games will not go well."
That's the advice of former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to the organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to take place this coming February in Sochi Russia. Whether Russian President Vladimir Putin chooses to listen to Leavitt, who writes about his experience overseeing the 2002 Salt Lake City Games in his new book "Finding Allies, Building Alliances", is another story.
"Staging events that are this size and scale requires trust," says Leavitt. "The Olympics is built around international cooperation, so hopefully the Olympic spirit will reach President Putin so the Games are a success for everybody."
Putin may not be the most trusting, or trustworthy, individual; nevertheless, Leavitt says his autocratic management style does have its advantages when it comes to security. And keeping the athletes and fans safe is another area Leavitt knows all-too-well. The Salt Lake games were known as "The Security Games" since they came a mere five months following the 9/11 attack on America.
"One challenge we had as organizers was to get different law enforcement agencies to communicate with each other," says Leavitt. "Putin seems to have fairly tight control of the military and police so that may be less of an issue for him."
Putin won't, however, have control over bloggers, says Leavitt. And while that may not seem like a big deal, Leavitt says non-accredited media can make or break the games and must be catered to as much as possible.
"The bloggers are out-and-about and will identify problems before anybody," says Leavitt. "They will brand the Games before the traditional journalists leave the media tent."
You've been warned Vlad!
--Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York.