Reporting From Lima Convention Center in Peru – International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach was peppered with questions from reporters following the Executive Board meeting Monday regarding recent allegations of vote buying in the Olympic site selection process.
The IOC admitted the possibility of vote buying in a statement Monday reacting to information from French prosecutors and in the wake of accusations against Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman in Brazil last week.
Brazilian officials are cooperating in an investigation that is said to connect Nuzman with the buying of African votes, helping Rio win its bid to host the first South American Games ever in 2016. This is just one of a handful of recent indications that the IOC hasn’t fully reformed after a 1998 vote buying scandal that led to the expulsion of several IOC Members and major ethics reviews within the organization.
The IOC statement read in part “The IOC Executive Board reaffirmed today that it goes without saying that infringements from the past will also be addressed. With regard to the investigation around the former IAAF President, Mr Lamine Diack, and his son, Mr Papa Massata Diack, the French prosecutor has stated that there are indications that payments have been made in return for votes ‘over the designation of host cities for the biggest global sporting events’.
“In this context, as far as votes for host cities of Olympic Games in the past are concerned, the IOC took immediate action. The IOC joined the inquiry as a “partie civile” more than one year ago. Right after evidence was produced against Mr Lamine Diack, he lost his IOC honorary membership in November 2015, following actions by the IOC.”
Bach told reporters “We are following up on everything, what has been provided and will be provided by the judicial authorities.”
He added “We think we have done what we could do. We have strict rules and we have a proven track record to react on any infringements and this is what you can reasonably expect from an organization to do.
“We have streamlined this [bidding] system very clearly. We will be more proactive, it will be a more technical system, closer cooperation with the candidate cities, and this will lead to less need of campaigning and in this way we are very confident that it will be a major step forward in the prevention of any kind of manipulation.”
The corruption allegations are timely with the IOC set to award both the 2024 and 2028 Games to Paris and Los Angeles at an IOC Session on Wednesday. Due to a tripartite agreement among the IOC and the two bids, both cities will be elected unopposed.
Paris 2024 Co-Chair Tony Estanguet reacted to corruption questions and told reporters “We have the responsibility to be as transparent as possible because we know that there are criticisms with the population.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti elaborated, explaining “Sports is all about fair play, on the field and off the field. We know that we’ll deliver that in Los Angeles. Any people who violate that, violate the movement and taint it. But I’m not worried about that in LA. This is in our DNA, we have done it – this will be our third time.
“People know that this bid was a 100 percent clean bid. Nobody ever came to us or asked us those kinds of things. We feel strong about how the process was done with us.”
Bach lauded the double-allocation arrangement and how it will bring stability to the Olympics for the next decade, even as the organization currently faces its image and ethics issues.
But what happens when the bid process opens again for 2032?
Bach said “for after 2028, you may have to ask my successor.”
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.