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What’s more, Carter said, many companies already are setting their sights on the 2012 Summer Games in London, which are expected to receive far more publicity.

“The Olympics are a little bit tough this time around, sandwiched in between Beijing and London,” he said. “It almost appears you’re reading more about London than Vancouver.”

Getting by

The ability of the USOC to boost its support of athletes for Vancouver has, at the very least, kept top athletes on track to perform well in February. And in recent months the USOC has been able to replenish some of its coffers with the Procter & Gamble, Deloitte and Touche and AT&T deals.

“The Olympics still persevere and people still care,” Carter said. “There’s still something very special about them, and I think that gives corporations a fair amount of cover. I think they like the branding halo of the games and can make a very strong case for being there.”

Carter said the Procter and Gamble deal was a big one for the USOC because of the number of commonly used products that make for a sensible fit with athletes.

Under the terms of the Procter and Gamble deal, several athletes including speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, skier Lindsey Vonn and bobsledder Vonetta Flowers, will appear in commercials for everything from cough drops to deodorant.

“They’re a great, red meat American company,” Carter said.

Sandusky said companies have been aggressive in promoting their ties to the Olympics since the 100-day countdown began in November.

“I have several sponsors right now and am very thankful for that,” said short track skater J.R. Celski, who has support from Crest, McDonald’s and 24 Hour Fitness, among others. “The support we get from these guys is tremendous. It really helps, it honestly does, because Olympic athletes really have a hard time getting by.”

Not that any athlete would ever make excuses.

“It’s never easy,” aerial skier Ryan St. Onge said. “It’s never, ‘This is what I want to do and here’s what we’ll pay you to do it.’ I think in sports, it goes from different levels of going from hard to harder, and people that can find a way do find a way.”