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THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING THE TRACK community. Will Primo Nebiolo, the president of the IAAF–track and field’s governing body–change the Atlanta Olympic schedule to accommodate the U.S.’s Michael Johnson, world champion in both the 200 and 400 meters? If not, then Johnson would be faced with the impossible task of running in three races on Monday, July 29, and then, two days later, in the 400 final and the 200 semifinal. At stake for the 28-year-old Texan is the chance to do what no athlete has ever done: win the Olympic 200 and 400.

At the world championships in Goteborg, Sweden, in August, Johnson not only won both the 200 and 400 gold medals, he also anchored the victorious U.S. 4×400-meter relay team. After that performance, Nebiolo, the Italian who rules the IAAF with an iron hand, said he would consider the unusual though not unprecedented step of altering the schedule. According to Johnson’s agent, Brad Hunt, “What Michael is hoping is that the two events get completely separated. He wants to finish one before he starts the other.” Both Johnson and the Atlanta organizing committee were expecting a decision in October; they’re still waiting.

A potential spoilsport in the matter is Carl Lewis, who also wants the schedule changed–in Lewis’ case to aid his quest for another gold in either the 200 or the 100. But based on recent performances, Johnson is clearly the more deserving of the two. Besides, track could use the publicity it would get from having Johnson win his two races and be declared the Jesse Owens of this generation.

And if that isn’t enough, Johnson has another incentive to succeed. “I have to make the Olympic team,” he says, “because I forgot to order tickets.” SOFTBALL, ANYONE?

Michael Johnson can get field-hockey tickets. In fact, seats for 39 sessions of that sport are still available. Other sports that have not sold out include soccer (33 sessions), baseball (28), basketball (16) and softball (11). According to ACOG ticket chief Scott Anderson, the toughest ticket to buy was not boxing or swimming or even the opening or closing ceremonies. It was fencing, owing to the small size of the venue at the Georgia World Congress Center.


Georgians love their football, so they may be interested to know that one member of the U.S. Olympic team played in the N.F.L. alongside Bart Starr. He’s Erv Hunt, the University of California track coach who will be guiding the Olympic men’s squad. Hunt was a Fresno State cornerback whom the Packers drafted in 1970. He left Green Bay after two seasons because of a back injury.


The U.S. swim team was caught by surprise last week when it was announced that a 15-year-old female had tested positive for steroids at the nationals last summer–this as officials prepare to lobby for stricter drug rules. It was the first positive test by a U.S. swimmer since ’88.


It’s never too early to start booking rooms for the Olympics, so here are the 10 cities on the IOC’s short list for the Summer Olympics in 2004: Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, San Juan, Stockholm, Rome, Seville, Istanbul, Cape Town, St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) and a yet-to-be-determined city in France.


As if Britain’s Royal family doesn’t have problems enough, IOC member Princess Anne was recently criticized in Parliament for her failure to deliver Manchester, England, as an Olympic host city.

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