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Group Shelves Bid for IOC PR Firm

April 12, 1999

TORONTO (AP) _ The group bidding to bring the 2008 Summer Olympics to Toronto dropped its plan to retain public relations giant Hill & Knowlton Inc. because of a possible conflict of interest.

Hill & Knowlton has already been retained by the International Olympic Committee to help repair its scandal-battered image.

Monday’s edition of PRWeek magazine reported that Hill & Knowlton had been chosen over Edelman, GPC Canada and Grey Advertising subsidiaries GCI Group and APCO Associates, who pitched jointly for the business of lobbying the IOC on behalf of the Toronto group.

Jeff Evensen, coordinator of Toronto’s bid, told the magazine that the bid committee had no reservations about a possible conflict of interest. And Hill & Knowlton said it didn’t see any problems with competing for the Toronto account while representing the IOC.

But later Monday, the 2008 Toronto group issued a statement saying that Charles Dubin, the former judge retained as its ethics commissioner, advised ``there would be an appearance of a conflict of interest″ to retain Hill & Knowlton.

The IOC is struggling to clean up its image in the aftermath of the bribery scandal involving Salt Lake City’s bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

Besides Toronto, other cities seeking the 2008 Summer Games include Beijing; Paris; Osaka, Japan; and Seville, Spain. Others considering making a bid include Cairo; Istanbul; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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