Lake Placid: boycotting the public

Mass confusion. That was the kindest description which frustrated would-be spectators had for the opening days of the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid. Inadequate transportation, lack of information, not enough ticket offices, complex procedures and long waiting lines to get reserved tickets that, too often, turned out to be cancelled. More than one ticketholder stranded in the cold was convinced that the only amateurs at Lake Placid were the Olympic organizers.

Spectators might expect such bungling from Moscow's notoriously inefficient bureaucracy. But no matter how many countries or athletes eventually show up for the summer games, Moscow's organizers won't have to try very hard to top the sorry performance of the Lake Placid Organizing Committee, which seems to have staged an unintended boycott of its own -- a boycott of the public. Even the youngest competitor could have told the committee that it takes intelligent long-range planning to "make the Olympics."

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