Behind the Scenes in Beijing with Steve Keogh

It would be understandable if you were envious of Steve Keogh. The Director of Communications for Canada’s Olympic Committee is currently in Beijing preparing for his 4th Olympic Games. He’s also experienced a Stanley Cup Final while being employed with the Ottawa Senators. Keogh jokes that his family calls him Forrest Gump for being in the background of several memorable pictures.

The Ottawa native has been busy for several months putting in 18 hour days getting ready for the games in Beijing. While feeding off the energy that the Olympics provide in supporting the Canadian athletes, there certainly are some challenges.  For instance, Keogh’s team has had to make many quick adjustments in going from 750 Olympic hopefuls to just 331 Olympians in a very narrow time frame, and producing a 630 page media guide that profiles each Canadian athlete.

Keogh at the Ling Long Pogada.

Keogh at the Ling Long Pogada.

While each Olympics has its own issues, Beijing emerges with both social and political issues. “When the games begin, the focus will be on competition and the other issues should fall away,” stated Keogh.

Transportation is also an issue for the games. The venues of the Olympics are spread out across Beijing, a city that supports a population of 17 million. “It becomes a little like planes, trains and automobiles when trying to get to the events and support the athletes,” Keogh noted.  “Similar to the games in Athens, security is also very tight. Accreditation is your lifeline. If you lose it, you’re done!”

The other aspect that continues to evolve is digital media. While the internet has certainly been around for other games, social media has greatly changed. Where members of the media used to work around a 24 hour print news cycle, now the timeline has shrunk drastically, as there is a race to get stories to the internet in a timely manner. Those stories include blogs from the athletes and journalists sharing opinions and experiences while looking for reader feedback.  In some ways, it’s a fine line for an athlete who has prepared many years for competition, to take time to communicate thru the media to tell their story versus simply focusing on the games at hand.

Those issues are all part of the job and Keogh feeds off of the high energy that the Olympics provide. He marvels at the opportunity to be around the best athletes in the world.

Asked about one of his Olympic memories, Keogh a basketball fan, recalls standing behind Chinese basketball star Yao Ming in the food line. “I’m 6’3″ and I’m up to Yao’s elbow, who stands 7’6”. Amazing.


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