Sponsorships aren't providing the money that Olympic budget organizers had planned.

Sydney's Olympic organizing committee (SOCOG) said yesterday that it was forced to write off $63 million in projected sponsorship revenue.

"Clearly, we're not going to get anywhere near reaching the sponsorship target for a variety of reasons," SOCOG President Michael Knight said. "Obviously, we'll need to make some adjustments to expenditure accordingly."

The sponsorship target has been lowered to $460 million. The original figure was more than $548 million before a $31.5 million cut midway through 1999. . . . The world's national Olympic committees have voted Brazilian soccer star Pele first among their top five athletes of the century, though he is the only one of the five who didn't take part in an Olympics.

Behind Pele were Muhammad Ali, winner of the Olympic light heavyweight title in 1960 before becoming three-time world heavyweight champion; Carl Lewis, winner of nine track and field gold medals in four Games from 1984 to '96; basketball great Michael Jordan, a member of the U.S. "Dream Team" gold medalists in 1992; and Mark Spitz, winner of seven swimming gold medals at the 1972 Games.


Broken Dream in Record Chase

Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett's attempt to break the record for sailing a catamaran across the Atlantic ended in failure in Newport, R.I., one day after he departed from New York.

"We were sailing too close to the limits of the boat and didn't leave enough margin for error," Fossett said in a telephone interview from Newport.

The 105-foot catamaran PlayStation limped into Newport Harbor at about 6 a.m. with a broken mainsail and docked at Long Wharf Pier.

Fossett and his nine-man crew were attempting to cross the ocean in less than 6 days 13 hours 3 minutes 32 seconds--the transatlantic catamaran record held since 1990 by Frenchman Serge Madec.

Auto Racing

Earnhardt Out After Surgery

Dale Earnhardt, a seven-time Winston Cup Series champion, underwent successful spinal column surgery to remove a disk he ruptured in March. Earnhardt will have to stay off the track at least six weeks.

Figure Skating

No Bye for Bobek

Former U.S. champion Nicole Bobek has been denied a medical bye that would have allowed her to compete in the 2000 national championships, U.S. skating officials said Thursday.

The decision could effectively end the 22-year-old skater's competitive season.

Bobek, the 1995 national champion, had argued that she was unable to compete at this week's qualifier for February's championships in Cleveland after falling ill earlier this month.

Winter Sports

Ghedina Blazes Past 'Herminator'

Kristian Ghedina's blazing run was just too good to beat, even for the "Herminator."

The Italian attacked the fast and bumpy downhill course for his 11th World Cup win, by a whopping 1.35 seconds in Val Gardena, Italy.

"Beating the Austrians--especially Hermann Maier, who is in superb shape--was one of my goals," Ghedina said.

Maier, nicknamed the "Herminator," finished a disappointing sixth--his worst result this season.

The victory was Ghedina's third on Val Gardena's Saslong course--his favorite downhill site. Reaching speeds of 85 mph, Ghedina was timed in 2:02.99. . . .

Italy's Isolde Kostner gained her third World Cup victory of the season, taking a downhill and solidifying her status as the circuit's top speedster.

Kostner raced down the 2,780-meter Corviglia course in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 1:37.81, for her second win in two downhills this season. . . .

Frode Andresen of Norway, replacing Olympic champion Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, won the men's 10-kilometer biathlon World Cup race in 26:41.6 in Pokljuka, Slovenia for his third career triumph.

Women's Basketball

Indiana's Got Fever

The WNBA expansion franchise in Indiana, which is owned by the Indiana Pacers, selected "Fever" as its nickname.


Budge Remains Critical

Former tennis great Don Budge remained in critical condition following an accident in which his car struck a tree in the Pocono Mountains. Hospital officials in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., didn't elaborate on the condition of the 84-year-old Budge.


Orioles Honor Minor Leaguers

The Baltimore Orioles announced that outfielder Wady Almonte was awarded the Brooks Robinson Award as the organization's minor league player of the year. Right-handed pitcher John Stephens earned the Jim Palmer Prize as the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. . . . The Frederick Keys named Gina Stepoulos as their new assistant general manager. . . . The Orioles also announced that FanFest 2000 will be held Jan. 22-23 at Baltimore Convention Center. Tickets to the two-day event are on sale at the Orioles' box office or through TicketMaster.