A report by South Korean Broadcaster SBS has revealed stunning allegations that technology giant Samsung worked secretly with International Olympic Committee (IOC) members to secure needed votes to send the 2018 Olympic Winter Games to PyeongChang.
In 2011, PyeongChang was on it’s third bid after losing to Vancouver for 2010 and Sochi for 2014 – and the city was facing competition from Munich and Annecy in France for the 2018 Games. There was intense pressure on Korean stakeholders to finally secure the Winter Games.
Samsung, an International Olympic sponsor, was not permitted under Olympic rules to support any individual bid.
But an email secured during an investigation of former South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak revealed the existence of a list of 27 names of IOC members who would allegedly support the PyeongChang bid if certain sponsorship agreements and marketing contracts were executed. SBS also reported a reference to a success fee.
Some of the 27, it was further alleged, would shift their votes to PyeongChang only after the French bid – which was eliminated in the first ballot – exited the race. Twelve members originated from African Countries.
The list was compiled in cooperation with Papa Massata Diack from Senegal, son of former IOC member Lamine Diack – both who have alleged connections to corruption surrounding the winning Rio 2016 bid, and have also been investigated in conjunction with the winning Tokyo 2020 bid.
Diack was also President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and Samsung became title sponsor of the IAAF “Samsung Diamond League” championships for three years from 2010 to 2012.
In a statement, Samsung denied any wrongdoing saying “Samsung has never engaged in any illegal lobbying activities to have Pyeongchang win the bidding.”
Diack stood to collect as much as USD $12.5 million if the contracts were secured, not including additional undisclosed funds as a “success fee,” the report alleges.
An IOC spokesperson said in a statement “Any information about Mr Lamine Diack will be added to his file in the IOC Ethics Commission.”
“Furthermore, the IOC is supporting the French authorities as ‘partie civile’ in their investigations against Mr Lamine Diack.
“As far as his former functions in the IOC are concerned Mr Diack has already lost his honorary membership in 2015.”