Rome Mayor Demands New Olympic Vote
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) _ Rome’s mayor demands a new vote for the 2004 Olympics, contending the choice of Athens, Greece, is tainted.
``I’m very angry,″ Mayor Francesco Rutelli said today. ``A panel of IOC experts and athletes gave Rome the No. 1 spot on the list of candidates. Until 24 hours before the vote we were in the lead. And then _ who knows what happened?″
Two days after the International Olympic Committee ousted six members as the result of a corruption scandal, Rutelli said a committee of experts should carry out a new vote. In September 1997, Athens beat Rome 66-41 in the final round of voting for the 2004 Summer Games.
``The most important thing is to remove every shadow of doubt about the decision,″ he said.
While Athens has not been specifically targeted, the IOC said it will look into the selection process for the games from 1996 to 2006. The IOC said Salt Lake City’s bid committee spent millions of dollars on 14 IOC members, including travel expenses, scholarships for their children and cash payments. In addition to the expulsions, three IOC members quit.
In Greece, the president of Hellenic Olympic Committee, Lambis Nikolaou, defended his city’s victory in the 1997 vote.
``The vote is closed,″ Nikolaou said. ``The games were given cleanly. The doors are open, the dogs are tied up and they can come and examine whatever they want.″
In other developments:
_The Greens faction in Berlin’s Senate sent files to the IOC from its 1993 campaign to win the 2000 Games. Greens leader Judith Demba called the IOC a ``club of corrupt old men″ and said its attempts to clean up its act were not credible.
Demba said Berlin bidders spent $1.53 million on travel, lodging, car rental, gifts and other expenses for 56 IOC members who visited the city, claiming scores of presents for IOC members went over the IOC limit of $200.
Berlin also paid ``horrendous″ doctors’ bills, Demba said, and organized a Berlin Philharmonic concert with the daughter of the South Korean IOC vice president. The letter did not give his name but the South Korean IOC vice president is Kim Un-Yong, who is under investigation.
Demba said Samaranch charged the bid committee $3,724 for a domestic air ticket between Stuttgart and Berlin that normally would cost one-tenth of the sum.
_ Nagano police official Minoru Kono said IOC officials visiting his city received free rides on police helicopters during the city’s winning bid for the 1998 Winter Games. Nagano officials already said voters were given free trips to Kyoto, some IOC officials were entertained by geisha and IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch received an expensive painting and Japanese sword.
``We talk about excessive entertainment, but the question is excessive compared to what?″ said Japanese Olympic Committee executive board member Chiharu Igaya, also an IOC executive board member. ``What was offered was definitely not excessive. It was normal. In business, entertainment is far more extravagant.″
_ In England, the head of Manchester’s failed bid for the 2000 Games said IOC members were taken to tennis matches at Wimbledon and Football Association Cup games as part of a $9 million campaign.
``We were in the business of showing people round,″ Bob Scott said. ``We were in the business of entertaining. We were in the business of, you know, sort of gross hospitality is the phrase that I think we can be accused of,″ Scott said.
``I don’t think it’s very different from winning any major contract. You put your best foot forward and that involves entertainment. You may think it stinks but that’s the name of the game.″
On Monday, Samaranch defended criticism of him and the Olympics, saying he lives a modest life _ not a life of pampered luxury as his critics contend.
``I am not a rich man,″ he said. ``I am a normal man. My style of life is the same for many, many years. I have no yachts. I have no planes. I have no cars, luxury cars. ...
``I don’t like big dinners, big lunches. I am doing my best to try to be fit with physical exercises every morning. That’s my life.″
The 78-year-old Spaniard is trying to restore his image and that of the IOC in the wake of the Olympics’ biggest corruption scandal.
``When I read that I take a helicopter from Lausanne to (nearby) Geneva, that’s crazy,″ Samaranch said. ``It is much quicker to go by car.″
``Listen, I am a normal person. I am giving 85 percent of my time to the IOC, living in Lausanne. I have a very small suite, paying 300 Swiss francs ($220) a day when I am present, 100 Swiss francs ($72) when I’m not.″
Samaranch angrily fired back at his critics, praising his record and dismissing renewed calls for his resignation.
``I am pleased with myself, what I have done these 18 years,″ Samaranch said. ``Today, the International Olympic Committee is very important in our society.″