IOC CORRUPTION SCANDAL
International opinion on the bribery allegations engulfing the International Olympic Committee over its choice of venues
New York Post
BESMIRCHED BY eye-popping reports of corruption, the International Olympic Committee is in crisis. It does not concern just a few bad apples. This bunch has rotted from the top down - and at the very top is IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch. In the face of the recent corruption, Samaranch has suggested changes in the Olympic selection process. One reform proposal would allow decisions to be made only by the executive board, instead of the entire IOC membership. Not surprising: That means only Samaranch and a handful of his cronies would benefit from the schmooze-fest that is the Olympic bidding process. Though the world has watched while the IOC goes down in flames, Samaranch has refused to acknowledge wrongdoing and has made no offer to resign. It's high time he gave up his control and allow this organization of international goodwill a measure of respectability once again.
THE SPIRIT of the Olympic Games has been tarnished as corruption scandals over Sydney 2000 and the Winter Games in Salt Lake City come to light. These days, sports is always linked with money. The IOC has suffered from the bribery scandal. Structural defects of the committee can be blamed for the swirling corruption: the selection procedure of the country holding the Games is insufficiently transparent, voting rights are in the hands of a small circle of secretive insiders, and committee members are selected for life by the committee itself. All three elements have caused the rot, and the stench of deceit.
The New Paper
THIS WHOLE Olympics bribery scandal isn't shocking. No, we all know full well just how crooked the world is and how money talks in every field of activity. The International Olympic Committee members who took bribes to vote for a certain country to be host have done no worse than many politicians and business leaders, right? But we prosecute crooked politicians, so we should also not forgive these crooked International Olympic Committee members. Sack them all. Those easily-influenced guys are two things: crooked and untrustworthy, and a bunch of lazy slobs. It's natural to want more money (we all do) but hello, welcome to the real world! Just work for it!
ONE OF the biggest problems in tackling corruption is defining it. When does nepotism and cronyism become bribery and corruption? There has been demonstrated corruption involved in the granting of the 2002 Olympic Games to Salt Lake City. But what of the blatant favors asked by, and in some cases given to, IOC delegates? When the giving of favors and gifts turns into corruption can be a matter of degree, but it is principally a matter of transparency. The test is whether those giving or receiving the gifts would want it known. The possibility that it might become public is a great deterrent to bribery, which is why the media is so essential.
The Washington Post
FOR EVERY serious attempt to root out corruption, there's always someone ready to call a bribe a "humanitarian" gesture, a reflection of "culture" or simply a "willingness to please". We've heard all those excuses, and more, in connection with Salt Lake City. They should be on trial now.
THIS AFFAIR will enable us to return to the controllable organisations of the Olympics. We must avoid economics taking the upper hand and dictating its law to the organisational committees. The IOC must also agree to becoming somewhat more condensed; 115 members is too much. 25 or 30 would be far easier to regulate. The IOC is representative of society but not representative of sport.
THE IOC has long looked like a fraternal order: closed, self-renewing, often completely male. The ideological superstructure is feudalism. Despite this, the Games have had an exceptional common-man popularity. Politicians have long used the Olympics in their own propaganda campaigns. Hitler and Ulbricht placed themselves in the light glancing off gold medals. The US and the old Soviet Union used the Olympics with political boycotts. Athletics' character in recent decades has changed drastically; the ideal of amateurism has drowned in the flood of prize money. The combination of fraternalism and economic power has made the IOC especially receptive to corruption.
Opinions about the possibility of overcoming difficulties in order to fully implement the Good Friday agreement
The Irish Times
IT HAS never been more important for the British and Irish governments to make clear they share a common determination to press ahead with implementing the agreement. At times it seems Mo Mowlam, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is the only senior minister in either government who is prepared to defend the spirit and the letter of the agreement with real conviction. More power to her, but this is a project which demands the full attention of both governments. Northern Ireland must not be allowed to become one of the casualties of the present crisis facing the Government.
SINCE THE agreement was signed, it has been spattered in blood - of the 29 men and women blown up by a republican bomb in Omagh; of the Catholic and Protestant men shot, tortured and beaten to show that the paramilitaries of both traditions still command their patches. If this is peace, say the opponents of the Belfast Agreement, then perhaps it would be better to go back to war.
PAISLEY TOOK advantage of the issue about whether early prison releases should be stopped in reaction to so-called punishment attacks, but the only effect of his intervention will be negative. Old animosities have been revived, with untold consequences, and the whole atmosphere of the peace process has been poisoned. Paisley may think he has done a good day's work, exposing the inaction of successive governments, but he has achieved nothing that will contribute to the better, more pluralist future that most people voted for last year.
THE POLITICAL parties and the paramilitaries are all jostling for their position in the new Ireland. While this is a time of teething difficulties and a voyage through uncharted waters for us all, the reality is that, to create a new society in Ireland, the ways of the past have to be confined fully to the past. And while it is equally hard to teach old dogs new tricks or persuade leopards to do away with their spots, it is imperative that it is exactly that which happens.
The new era and the new optimism that it brings are demanding real change and real commitment to new ways. Those demands must be met.
AS THE implementation of the Good Friday agreement repeatedly hits the hurdles laid by Unionists, the voice of inclusiveness has to continue echoing. It has helped overcome the obstructionism and exclusion of the past. In the run-up to the final report on the All-Ireland bodies, abandoning the nationalist voice of consensus does not encourage Unionists to recognise the legitimacy of nationalists to be represented in the Executive. It does not help the agreement to be implemented. It does not help the cause of peace.
IT HAS been a miracle that the peace process has come as far as it has, given the forces aligned against it from the beginning. It would be better for all concerned if the letter of the agreement which names May 2000 as the time when decommissioning is dealt with were stuck to. The IRA should give comfort by indicating that they are not sticking to their assertion of never decommissioning and that, if the agreement is enacted in full, then they are prepared to work on it. Time is running out on this perplexing problem which has haunted this process from the start. One thing is certain, though: unless it is resolved it is hard to see a way forward for this process.
Reaction to the King of Jordan's choice of his son Prince Abdullah to be his successor
IT IS not just in Jordan's but also in Israel's interest that the next king succeed. As Hussein's interventions at key moments in the peace process indicate, Jordan plays a unique role in the region. At this critical time, Jordan and the region need steady, trusted hands at the wheel. The best hands would be those of Hussein himself, whom Israelis and Jordanians hope will regain full health. As the King introduces changes in Jordan's ruling hierarchy, it is to be hoped that he will manage to pass on his strength and vision to his chosen successor as Hashemite monarch.
WHEN KING Hussein returned to Amman, he openly rued his brother's failure to give firm responses to the despotisms in Damascus and Baghdad. Some skeptics may discount this palace account of the King's motivation as merely a cover for a paternal ambition as traditional as monarchy itself. But King Hussein has been able to stay in power for 46 years because he has not allowed himself to be careless about crucial matters. Jordan needs another king as canny as he.
THE DESIGNATION by Hussein of his first-born Abdullah as heir to the throne has placed Jordan on the threshold of a new era; in this way the monarch has put an end to an interim situation that posed grave problems for the future of a country that is key to the Middle East. Jordan, with 13 communities, among them the Palestinians, who are in majority, and three religions, continues to be a powder keg, but the succession in the Jordanian monarchy is the guarantee for continuity.
JOHN PAUL II MEETS BILL CLINTON
Views on the meeting of the Pope and the President of the United States in an aircraft hanger in St Louis, Missouri
St Louis Post Dispatch
THERE THEY were, the saint and the sinner, meeting in the hangar. When the new millennium and new century officially arrive, Pope John Paul II may have been the last pope to serve his full reign in the 20th century and Clinton will be the first president to serve in the 21st century. In contemporary history, the Pope will represent what once was and Clinton will represent what will be. The Pope will be remembered for his tireless battle to stem the changing beliefs of his flock. The President will be remembered for impeachment and his tireless effort to adjust his own beliefs.
CLINTON HAS been weakened in his spirit by allowing too much to his body. Pope John Paul II has become frail, despite the strength of his spirit. The meeting was an opportunity to show once again their incompatibility. The pontiff and the American President try to control the world following two opposite principles. John Paul II calls for the end of violence as a way to solve the conflicts and looks forward to the birth of an alternative power to the United States. Clinton continues bombing each continent to reaffirm American supremacy. What makes them look alike is their ability to raise enthusiasm, more than a real consensus.
New York Post
The Pope has found a receptive audience among youngsters toward whom he has directed his message with fervor. Liberals try to explain the Pope's popularity with the claim that the public loves the messenger but doesn't care for his message. They said the same thing about Reagan; it wasn't true then and it's not true now. The Pope's message is one for all faiths and all ages.
The New York Times
John Paul's criticisms of materialism were part of a trip underwritten by Pepsi-Cola and several other companies. He has won his battle with Communism, but his struggle to mount a spiritual critique of capitalism and commercial culture promises to be an even more complex task.
BLIND DATE WEDDING
Comment on the marriage in Birmingham of
two people who had never previously met
THE PRINCIPAL factor in whether a marriage succeeds is the level of commitment brought to it. While it is heartening that Mr Cordell plans to "put 100 per cent behind it", the fact that he and his wife entered a competition offering a honeymoon, car and flat for a year is bound to raise suspicions. The media's artificial world is the opposite of the reality of marriage. That consists of compromises, compacts and consideration, but its compensations can be huge. If (as - against the odds - we hope) this stunt develops into a happy union, that would be, too.
The Birmingham Post
THE PUBLICITY stunt which brought about their wedding has debased the idea of marriage and turned it into nothing but a cheap and prurient way of exploiting people's lives for a brief bout of entertainment. It tells us more than we want to know about the debasement of modern manners that more than 200 young men and women were prepared to subject themselves to this "experiment in love". The wedding may not be a sham - only the couple involved will know about that and they may not be sure yet - but it is certainly shaming.
THIS PUBLICITY stunt makes a mockery of marriage. Saying "I do" for the benefit of a radio station so you can get a free Bahamas holiday requires a bride and groom who are shallow, immature and stupid. Greg Cordell and Carla Germaine certainly fit the bill on all counts. Marriage remains the best method devised for keeping family and home together. This cheap scam turns a serious business into a joke. Except it's not at all funny.
Stories from around the world
Elizabeth Dole vs Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2000? Is that possible? Might that be the way this nation politically turns the millennium? Might we finally acknowledge that men have done a simply terrible job, especially lately, of running this country and turn to two bright women to appeal to the electorate to choose between them? Well, we know Dole is at least somewhat interested; she has resigned her Red Cross presidency to run, if she decides to do so. And we know that Clinton has already sat at the right hand of presidential power, despite all the ups and downs of that public couple and of their private marriage. But is she presidential material? Move over, Vice-President Al Gore. Move over, Gov George W Bush. Let the women show all of us how it should be done.
Cuba Free Press
National Revolutionary Police (PNR) have arrested former political prisoner Manuel Daz Cabrera and charged him with selling a hog to Jorge Capote of Ariza in Cienfuegos province. Various other politically incorrect citizens in this area believe the authorities are trying to fabricate a case against Daz Cabrera so as to sabotage his dissidence with prison. He denies the charge. Daz was released from prison last year at the request of Pope John Paul.
THE VIEWS OF THE WORLD