IOC Official Gets Brush-Off
Nov. 05, 1998
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Sydney Olympic organizers were left embarrassed when a taxi driver refused to take a senior IOC official into the city and told him to catch the train instead.
Robin Mitchell, an International Olympic Committee member from Fiji, said he understood the reasons for the taxi driver's actions, but officials of the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games were not amused.
``A few of us were apoplectic that this should happen to anyone,'' a SOC. spokesman was quoted as saying in Thursday's edition of The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Mitchell was in Sydney on Olympic business and planned a meeting with SOCOG in the city. The taxi he ordered at his airport hotel failed to show so he hailed another. Because the taxi driver was close to his changeover time, he offered to drive Mitchell to the nearest train station and give him directions to get to SOCOG's city office.
Mitchell rode the train four stations before walking 10 minutes to reach SOCOG 20 minutes late for a scheduled meeting on Monday.
``I'm not angry really,'' Mitchell told the newspaper. ``I know Sydney fairly well so it wasn't much of a hassle. His directions were very good (and) he apologized that he couldn't take me.''
It is difficult to find taxis in Sydney around 3 p.m. each day because of the changeover. Taxi authorities hope to overcome this problem in time for the 2000 Summer Games by adding an extra 500 licenses, which require drivers to be on the road between noon and 5 p.m.
New South Wales Taxi Council president Reg Kermode said he was appalled by the incident.
``I'm disappointed one of our guys would act that way to a visitor to the country,'' Kermode said.