It's like a mid-term examination.

Starting Thursday, a commission of experts assembled by the International Olympic Committee will be quizzing organizers of the 2002 Winter Games about everything from plans for covering the speed-skating oval to cultural programs.The real test for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee is still 31/2 years away. Members of the IOC Coordination Commission are coming to town to grade organizers' progress.

It's the third visit of the 19-member commission that includes IOC members, sports officials, athletes, national Olympic committee leaders and press and environmental representatives from around the world.

There's even a pair of former Olympic organizers: Jean-Claude Killy, the French skier who helped run the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France; and Gerhard Heiberg, president of the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

Just like SLOC, the coordination commission is supposed to keep the IOC posted on potential problems. Easy enough, since commission chairman Marc Hodler is a member of the IOC Executive Board.

Although the commission members have been here before, this is their first visit since Salt Lake moved into the hot seat as the next host of the Winter Olympics now that the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, are over.

Since then, SLOC officials have been getting an earful from IOC leaders who want the organizing committee to pick up the pace, especially when it comes to making key hires like a sports director.

That's the person who'll oversee the record 70 medal competitions planned for the Games, a job that includes putting together the final schedule of events that's due to the IOC in December.

Organizers, feeling the pressure, had hoped to have a sports director named before the coordination commission meeting. But now SLOC officials say they don't expect to find someone for the job before the end of summer.

And there are other positions that likely should have been filled by now, including directors of press operations, information systems and the Paralympics, as well as several individual sports.

Still, SLOC Senior Vice President of Games Dave Johnson said he believes organizers can maintain confidence with members of the coordination commission by reviewing what has been done over the past year.

That list includes finalizing a $28 million deal with the University of Utah to build an Olympic Village for athletes and officials on campus and work toward a new budget to replace the $1 billion-plus spending plan.

Organizers won't, however, be bringing up the unfilled positions.

"There will always be pressure to get certain things accomplished," Johnson said. "We don't believe any of our functions . . . have been compromised because the positions haven't been filled."

He said taking coordination commission members through the budget process should go a long way to reassure them that SLOC is on track. Organizers have hired a consultant at a cost of $750,000 to overhaul the budget by September.

"I can guarantee that when they come in and see the degree of planning that's gone into (the various Olympic) functions . . . they will be very impressed," Johnson said.

For anyone who thinks organizers are lagging behind, he promised that "once the budget is completed, (work) will be accelerated because of the planning that's gone into it."

In past years, the organizing committee has distributed a detailed agenda for the coordination commission meetings. This year, though, only a general description of the three days was provided.

Eight working groups meet Thursday to deal with issues surrounding the Olympic Village, information and telecommunication services, environment, media, marketing, finance, sport and venue development and accommodations.

Friday, the entire commission looks at broadcasting, sports, national Olympic committee services, venues, the Olympic Village, accommodations, accreditation, ticketing, medical services, Games presentation, security and transportation.

And Saturday morning, they consider government relations, telecommunications, information technology, environment, marketing, licensing, communications and public affairs, arts and culture and youth programs.

Tours of both Rice Stadium and the speed-skating oval at the Oquirrh Park Fitness Center in Kearns have been scheduled for Thursday at the request of the commission.

Other tours of Snowbasin Ski Area, site of the downhill and super G events, and the Utah Winter Sports Park and other venues in and around the Park City area are planned for Saturday afternoon.

Several members of the IOC's Switzerland-based staff, including sports director Gilbert Felli and technology director Pascal Wattiaux, are supposed to meet with organizing committee officials on Wednesday.


Additional Information

International Olympic Committee

Coordination Commission members

Marc Hodler - Member, IOC from Switzerland;

chairman of every IOC coordination commission for Winter Games since 1988; former president, International Ski Federation

Niels Holst-Sorensen - Member, IOC from Denmark

Chiharu Igaya - Member, IOC from Japan

Walther Troeger - Member, IOC from Germany;

president, German National Olympic Committee

Carol Anne Letheren - Member, IOC from Canada;

secretary-general, Canadian Olympic Committee

Gerhard Heiberg - Member, IOC from Norway;

chairman of 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway

Rene Fasel - Member, IOC from Switzerland;

president, International Ice Hockey Federation

Jean-Claude Killy - Member, IOC from France;

co-president of 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France

Ottavio Cinquanta - Member, IOC from Italy;

president, International Skating Union

Anders Besseberg

President, International Biathlon Union

Arne Myhrvold

President, Norwegian Olympic Committee

Roger Jackson

Representative, National Olympic Committees,

University of Calgary, Sports Medicine

Marjo Matikainen-Kallstrom - Representative, athletes;

Finnish Olympic medalist in nordic skiing

Heinz Jungwirth - Secretary-general,

Austrian National Olympic Committee

Manolo Romero - Olympic broadcaster;

head of host broadcasting for 2002 Winter Games

Hugo Steinegger - Member, IOC Press Commission

Olav Myrholt - Representative, environment;

director of environmental committee for 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer

Francois Carrard - Director-general, IOC

Francoise Zweifel - Secretary-general, IOC