Japan `paid huge bribes' for Games

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The Independent Online
LIBYA'S DELEGATE to the International Olympic Committee resigned yesterday in the growing Salt Lake City bribery scandal.

Bashir Mohamed Attarabulsi, 61, an IOC member since 1977, quit following revelations that his son had received college scholarships at Utah schools from the Salt Lake City bid committee. His son, Suhel, admitted he received tuition at Brigham Young University as well as other Utah schools, plus $700 a month for expenses.

He is the second IOC delegate to resign this week. Finland's Pirjo Haeggman, who became the first casualty on Tuesday, was under suspicion because her former husband got jobs, through the Olympic bidding committees, from Salt Lake City and Toronto.

Today a special IOC commission meets at the Olympic headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, to conclude its inquiry into the Olympics' biggest corruption scandal. It will report tomorrow when some IOC members may be expelled.

The inquiry is thought to name 16 members of the committee as being involved in bribery or accepting gifts and sexual favours.

The Olympic crisis deepened as officials said the Japanese city of Nagano's successful bid to hold last year's Winter Olympics was the result of "astronomical" bribes and expensive gifts to members IOC.

According to a Nagano politician interviewed by The Independent, the city's mayor was planning, last week, to burn documents relating to the bid.

The assemblyman, who has served on Olympic delegations, yesterday told The Independent: "If you bid for the Olympic Games, people know that it takes money and maybe bribes." He said: "If you're in that position, and you really want the Games, you have no choice. The IOC members were such greedy extortionists we couldn't but do as they asked."

He said that it is common knowledge among local leaders in Nagano that IOC members solicited bribes in the form of both cash and gifts which were given to them by senior members of the city's bidding team. He said that actual spending on the Olympic bid was far in excess of the 1.96 billion yen (about pounds 8.2m) budget.

When asked yesterday about allegations of impropriety the city's mayor, Mr Tsukada Tsukada said: "We didn't do anything wrong or unfair. I am rather offended when people say we did something wrong, like Salt Lake City."

Tony Banks, Minister for Sport, yesterday said Britain will not bid for the Olympics until the IOC "cleans up" its act. But he insisted he was confident that reforms would clean up the corruption scandal facing the committee.