Fraser Bullock has bought into the Olympics movement big-time.
A decade after accepting the Salt Lake Organizing Committee's No. 2 position at which he initially balked, Bullock has since been leaving a global imprint on the Games.
He served as chief operations officer for one of the most successful Games in history. He took over as SLOC's president and chief executive officer two months after the 2002 Games' conclusion to oversee the shutdown and transfer of facilities and information. He performed an extensive audit of the International Olympic Committee, helped restructure the U.S. Olympic Committee and assisted in stabilizing the 2006 Torino Games before and during competition. And he provides perspective as a member of 10-person coordinating commission for the 2010 Vancouver Games.
All this, while doubling after the '02 Games as co-founder and managing director of Utah's Sorenson Capital.
"This is all in the notion of giving back to the Olympics," Bullock said of his post-2002 contributions. "Once you become part of the Olympic family, it stays with you."
When Mitt Romney took over as CEO of a beleaguered SLOC in January 1999, he waited a couple of months before contacting Bullock a former colleague at Boston's Bain Capital to pitch the COO position.
"I told him, 'You're looking for someone who is semi-suicidal,'" recalled Bullock, initially uninterested but wanting to help straighten the SLOC house. "Out of all the places in the world, the reputation of us as a state had been stained."
Once onboard, Bullock oversaw SLOC's operations and its $1.31 billion budget, helping it clear a profit in excess of $100 million.
To right a staggering SLOC, Romney and Bullock helped to overcome the organization's reputation, raise much-needed money and bring extensive operational plans up to speed.
"We built a fabulous team," Bullock said, underscoring the need for increased discipline. "There were great people there already, and we added to it."
Well before the start of the '02 Olympics, SLOC officials seemed confident and ready.
"I remember in August 2001 telling people, 'I think we're going to hit this one out of the park,'" he recalled. "Then came Sept. 11, and it changed everything."
The scandal, the budget woes, the operations problems and now the threat of terrorism.
"We had people coming from 83 different countries, and we had to keep them safe," he said.
With a safe and successful '02 Games, Romney and Bullock helped put Salt Lake City and Utah in the spotlight on the world's biggest stage and blanket the Wasatch Front with pride of volunteerism and a sense of international goodwill.
Six months after the closing ceremonies, SLOC shut down its operations while the Atlanta organizing committee was still wrapping up loose ends from its '96 Olympics.
Bullock and SLOC took all of its information on functions, budgets, plans and operations and transferred them electronically into a Web-based format for use by future organizing committees.
"And it was all free," said Bullock, noting. "Sydney charged $3 million for a bunch of boxes."
Impressed with SLOC's results, IOC President Jacques Rogge asked Bullock to do an audit of the International Olympic Committee. With a colleague, Bullock obliged, completing the five-month task in mid-2002 for free "as a gift back to the IOC."
The audit led to several IOC restructures. First, a new internal organization was created to help organizing committees, which used to be built from scratch, be up and running with IOC support, including an added chief operating officer.
Second, the audit revamped the IOC coordination commissions to focus on ensuring the organizing committee meets the needs of far-reaching constituent groups, such as athletes, media and sponsors.
Athens' pre-Olympics woes served as "the genesis ... but they were already too far down the path" to benefit from the audit, Bullock said. However, it provided substantial assistance for a struggling Torino organizing committee.
Then came a call to join an eight-member task force restructuring the USOC. Bullock helped lead the charge to turn a bloated 125-person board dominated by special interests and mired in constant political wrangling into a sleek, nine-member board.
The task force also set the criteria for a new experienced yet independent president, with Peter Ueberroth the first to take the post. Other efforts included more USOC support to the sports' national governing bodies, with accompanying increased accountability.
Leading up to the 2006 Torino Games, Bullock made three trips to Italy to give insight and aid, including a week's stay after the organizing committee fired its CEO and COO. Even when Mitt and Ann Romney and Fraser and Jennifer Bullock were in Torino to enjoy the 2006 Olympics, the two former SLOC leaders stepped behind the scenes a few times to help out.
Asked to help with the '08 Beijing Olympics and the '12 London Games, Bullock begged off the first for a break and has put off a decision on the latter.
The one organizing committee invitation the Canada native couldn't turn down was Vancouver's. As a member of the VANOC coordination committee, he visits Vancouver, B.C., a couple of days every six months to, as he says, "discuss the hot topics of the quarter, such as budget items I know budgets inside and out."
However, it's a different feeling for Bullock on the Vancouver commission than his SLOC work thanks in part to the advisers and specialists comprising the IOC staff that Bullock's audit helped to create.
Bullock will be in Beijing for the '08 Summer Games. But rather than go on IOC, USOC or VANOC privileges, he's part of a two-couple contingent as private tourists with tickets for men's basketball, gymnastics, swimming and beach volleyball.
"I just want to go and enjoy the Games with my wife," he said.
After that, are there more Olympics-related tasks in Bullock's future?
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