The Observer: "Olympic bribes row forces London into £15m U-turn" - will anyone resign ?


The very first question that came to mind, when we set out some of our worries about the proposed London Olympic bid, just after it was announced was: 1. What chance has London got to "win" the bid without bribery ?

The spin is that the (now withdrawn) financial offer to some of the smaller Pacific island Olympic sports committees, by the London Olympic Bid team is not technically "bribery". We beg to differ.

"Olympic bribes row forces London into £15m U-turn

Denis Campbell, sports news correspondent
Sunday April 24, 2005
The Observer

London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games suffered a major blow yesterday when it was forced to withdraw a £15 million package of financial 'incentives' which the International Olympic Committee claimed came dangerously close to bribery.

Mounting controversy surrounding the offer to give free flights to athletes and pay countries £30,000 to train in Britain before the event has led the bid chairman, Sebastian Coe, to announce it would be abandoned."

"The London offers included a free full-fare return economy class air fare for all 10,500 athletes, free rail tickets in the UK and phone calls worth up to £60. Crucially, each country's national Olympic committee was offered $50,000 (£30,000) to site its pre-Games training camp in Britain."

The International Olympic Committe has a much weaker definition of bribery than United Kingdom law does. It should be remembered, that although the IOC has the airs and graces of an international treaty organisation, it is just another speculative commercial entertainment event promoter, and whether one complies with its internal "rules" or not, is completely secondary to the laws of the United Kingdom or any other sovereign nation.

The Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, is pretty awful, and contains much that has nothing to do with terrorism. However, it is the law, and Part 12 Bribery and Corruption certainly does apply to this situation.

This "financial incentive" offer should never have been made in the first place.

Why should UK and London taxpayers be paying for foreign athletes travel and training expenses ? Surely those expenses should be paid for by their own Olympic Committes and their own Governments and supporters ? Isn't the Olympic Games meant to be for "amateur" sport ?

The offer must have been designed to influence the votes of these International Olympic Committee officials.

This incident brings shame on London's international reputation.

Whoever is responsible, should resign from the London Olympic Bid team.

Will the Metropolitan Police conduct a criminal investigation into this affair ?

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