Leading Morrison & Foerster's engagement as international counsel for the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, Steven L. Toronto and Kelly C. Crabb have the key bases covered the former in the capital city of the People's Republic of China and the latter in Los Angeles, the acknowledged entertainment capital of the world.
More than a single straight line between two points, their effort spans the globe and bridges the Olympic Games generations, including Salt Lake City's in 2002.
It's a time-consuming task for a twosome who first became acquainted as BYU students and Provo Missionary Training Center staff three decades ago. Their paths ran somewhat parallel before finally meeting and merging for the Beijing Games.
The managing partner of Morrison & Foerster's Beijing office and involved with the Beijing Organizing Committee interactions since the global megafirm was first retained, Toronto specializes in venture capital financing mergers and China-related securities and investment activities, particularly in technology-based companies.
Joining the firm after doing legal work with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics, Crabb focuses on the entertainment and media fields, including financing, production and content matters. His work ranges from rights and licensing to mergers and acquisitions, and everything in between.
"I often tell Steve he's the energetic one who gets to do all the work, and I get to have all the fun," Crabb said.
The pair lead a firm team of 30-plus, based in major U.S., Asian and European cities. They also help BOCOG engage consultants who worked closely with the Salt Lake and Athens organizing committees.
"It's firm-wide Steve and I work together to coordinate that," said Crabb, adding "as a team, we have a vast knowledge."
As the only international legal firm involved, Morrison & Foerster provides liaison work and legal oversight for BOCOG, particularly in infrastructure and commercialization. Assistance includes helping draft requests for proposals, negotiating contracts, introducing consultants, reviewing concerns, and providing seminars and workshops to share information.
Infrastructure efforts include venue construction and leasing as well as arranging for security, hospitality and accommodations.
"There are tons and tons of these contracts," Toronto said.
Five key areas make up the commercial aspect entertainment programs, sponsorships, licensing, ticketing and broadcasting.
The opening and closing ceremonies and torch relay are high-profile entertainment-oriented events requiring contacts, contracts and coordination with participants and performers.
Licensing and ticketing provide substantial revenue for an organizing committee, but most money comes from sponsorships and broadcasting, the two most valuable aspects.
The five-ring Olympic logo is the world's most widely recognized trademark and the most aggressively protected, as sponsors pay millions to use the logo in marketing and advertising. This is true also for the Beijing Games-specific logo used on a national level in China.
For each Olympics, a television production company is created "becoming the largest television production company in the work," Toronto said as the Olympic committee sells the video signal for millions and billions of dollars to national broadcasting corporations across the world. For example, in 2003, NBC paid $2.2 billion for the multi-platform U.S. broadcasting rights for the 2010 and 2012 Games.
With the provided video signals, the national broadcasters in turn add their own graphics and voice-overs and try to recoup their costs through advertising sales.
With the Olympics around the corner, most legal work with BOCOG "is pretty much done," said Toronto, adding "with the exception of 'strange things,' much of the so-called heavy lifting is done."
Crabb knows all about Olympic surprises, having represented U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm, the first American male to win the individual all-around gold medal, at the 2004 Athens Games. South Korea lodged a belated protest on event judging totals while the International Federation of Gymnastics suggested Hamm relinquish his gold and Crabb helped to successfully represent Hamm all the way to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"That was a classic example of what can come up," Crabb said.
Both Toronto and Crabb hope Beijing is as successful with its Olympics overall and the post-Games transfer as was the Salt Lake Organizing Committee in 2002.
"Salt Lake was the paradigm, the model that everybody should follow," Crabb said. "It makes everybody stand in amazement at how well they did it."
Added Toronto: "The opportunity we have had for me has been satisfying to be able to introduce to our friends in Beijing to our friends in Salt Lake City."
Toronto and Crabb were first associated as BYU students and MTC employees in the late 1970s. A recently returned missionary from Taiwan, Toronto was working on his undergraduate degree while teaching Mandarin to missionaries.
Staying on at BYU to finish a master's degree in public administration, Crabb who served a mission in Japan and has used his Japanese on a number of cases worked for the missionary department for five years during the same time as a director of research and development, focusing on programs, text materials and lesson improvements.
The two also left Provo for the Columbia Law School Crabb first, with Toronto later calling for perspective and recommendations before heading East.
They've since shared another similarity adding LDS Church leadership responsibilities to their career and family workloads. Toronto is president of the Beijing China International District that oversees expatriate church members residing through much of mainland China. Crabb is now second counselor in the Pasadena California Stake presidency after recently being released as bishop.
Crabb will join Toronto in China during the Olympics, to get a first-hand look at the result of the multi-year legal efforts.
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