Sydney Olympic Probe Finds Offense
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Ireland’s Kevin O’Flanagan and Denmark’s Niels Holst-Sorensen became the latest International Olympic Committee members to be accused of breaking its rules, when a report into Sydney’s successful bid for the 2000 Games was released today.
Independent auditor Tom Sheridan found Sydney’s bid effort guilty of ``numerous breaches″ of guidelines but found no evidence of corruption or bribery.
He criticized the IOC’s rules governing bids, saying they were ``unworkable and have fallen into disrepute and are almost completely ignored by candidate cities.″
Although Sheridan outlined the lavish hospitality and gift giving that won Sydney the bid, SOCOG president Michael Knight said the report showed there was ``no comparison between what occurred in Salt Lake City and what Sydney did to win the 2000 Games.″
Nine IOC members have resigned or been expelled in the wake of the inquiry into Salt Lake City’s bid for the 2002 Winter Games and the bribery scandal has seen action taken against 20 members.
Sheridan found Danish IOC delegate Niels Holst-Sorensen and his wife traveled from Copenhagen to Paris to watch the 1993 French Open tennis final at the invitation of Australian IOC official and bid team member Phil Coles. Their air travel and ``associated expenses″ were paid for by Sydney’s bid.
Holst-Sorensen said the trip was given to him by Coles but he did not believe it broke IOC regulations.
The bid also paid for O’Flanagan and his brother to travel from Dublin to London for the 1992 Wimbledon tennis final. Sydney paid their air travel, accommodation, theater tickets and other costs.
``In my view, these trips are apparent breaches of the guideline which prohibits the giving of benefits ... in excess of a total of $200,″ Sheridan said in the report.
Coles, named in the Salt Lake City ethics inquiry for treating site visits like vacations, was recommended for a severe censure by the IOC last week.
There were several other IOC delegates named in the Sydney investigation, but their cases had been documented previously.
Swaziland IOC member David Sibandze, who resigned after being named in the Salt Lake City inquiry, was also named in the Sydney report, following assistance for his daughter Nomsa to study in Australia.
Sydney officials also played a role in the immigration to Australia of the daughter and son-in-law of Romanian IOC member Alexandru Siperco, arranged a job interview for the son of Tunisian delegate Mohamed Mzali, found work for the son of Finnish delegate Peter Tallberg and sought to arrange work for a relative of Algeria’s Mohamed Zerguini.
Sheridan said breaches of the IOC guidelines included the value of gifts given to IOC delegates, the duration of visits, the number of overseas trips made by Sydney bid members to lobby IOC officials and assistance in finding jobs for delegates’ families.
He said he also was concerned by the Australian Olympic Committee’s involvement in African training schemes.
AOC president John Coates has admitted paying about $35,000 each to delegates from Kenya and Uganda on the night before the 1993 decision to award Sydney the games.
Sheridan concluded there was no breach of IOC guidelines because the arrangements did not involve the giving of benefits to IOC members or their families.
Knight and the SOCOG board ordered the inquiry by the former state auditor general following the news from Salt Lake’s inquiry.
Sheridan said under the guidelines Sydney needed to give IOC delegates ``red carpet treatment.″
If they didn’t, ``they may not have necessarily achieved that objective,″ of winning the Games.
Sheridan also detailed the names of delegates who stayed longer than the guidelines allow for visits to a bidding country, or for side trips.
Twelve IOC members overstayed or took side trips, including visits to the northern Australian tropical resort town of Port Douglas, Paris, Singapore and Bangkok. They were usually accompanied by Coles, the report said.
SOCOG board member Nick Greiner said the bid team encouraged IOC delegates to take side trips, knowing they were outside the guidelines, to break up the long journey to and from Australia.
``The idea that we would give them the boot on day five if they wanted to stay for day six is ridiculous,″ Greiner said.