NBC, swimmers at odds over Olympic time


MELBOURNE, Australia -- The swimming's world governing body has urged the International Olympic Committee  to reject NBC's requests and stay with tradition by staging evening swimming finals at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

NBC, which paid $3.55 billion for the exclusive media rights to the 2000-2008 Games, has requested the switch to the morning in Beijing to coincide with primetime viewing in the U.S.

FINA chief executive Cornel Marculescu said his organization remained in favor of evening finals and hoped the IOC would copy the format of world championship events.

"The decision is with the IOC executive board," Marculescu said. "I have heard the IOC is consulting with the broadcasters on this but we don't know how it's going to be.

"The Olympic Games is not our product, we don't have a partner in the U.S. television market."

"We have told them what is our preference which is finals in the evening as we will have at the world championships in Melbourne next March," Cornulescu told reporters in Melbourne at the draw for the event's water polo competition.

Several leading swimmers, including Dutch Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband, have objected to morning finals, saying they would destroy the established training patterns of swimmers which are tailored to morning heats and evening finals.