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Romney To Tackle Olympic Business

February 14, 1999

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Mitt Romney insists the Olympics are about sport, not business.

But he has plenty of business to attend to these days as the man in charge of cleaning up the scandal surrounding the Salt Lake City Olympics.

On Friday, the day after he was hired to run the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, he appeared on ``Good Morning America,″ spoke with his staff, reviewed financial projections, met predecessor Frank Joklik and discussed marketing and sponsorships.

``I’ve worked in health care, in automotive parts, in financial services, and that’s OK,″ the 51-year-old Boston businessman said. ``But this is sport, and this is athletes and young people. This is a lot of fun. The Olympics are about sport, not about business; about athletes, not managers.″

Romney is confident he can allay the concerns of Olympic sponsors, who on Thursday in New York demanded major reform by the International Olympic Committee to root out corruption.

``Utah businesses have got to come together and say we’re here for these Olympics,″ Romney said. ``If they don’t, why should some New York business decide to support the Olympics?″

Meantime, a half-dozen bodies are investigating the bid leading to the 2002 Games, with 24 IOC members _ more than one-fifth the group’s body _ implicated in the bribery scandal.

Among the investigators are the General Accounting Office, Congress’ auditing arm; the U.S. Justice Department; and Utah’s Attorney General.

``We’re not sure how long it will take,″ said Bernie Ungar, GAO director of government business operations.

Dennis Fitzgibbon, deputy staff director for the House Commerce Committee, said there is no deadline, but he and Ungar predicted the study could be completed this year.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., requested the inquiry on Jan. 27, citing ``seriously questionable, if not outright illegal,″ tactics during the Olympic bid.

The work could be complicated by the number of agencies involved _ the Secret Service, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Department of Transportation, the Department of Defense and even the U.S. Postal Service.

``There is no central repository in the federal government for this information,″ Fitzgibbon said.

Utah has received a $90 million commitment from the U.S. Transportation Department for Olympic-related highway improvements. A department spokesman said those funds are not at risk.

But Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, a member of the House Transportation Committee, said the scandal could jeopardize future funds.

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