Sydney official admits offering cash to IOC

THE OLYMPIC corruption scandal that started in Salt Lake City six weeks ago turned into a crisis striking at the heart of the International Olympic Committee as further allegations emerged last night of bribe- taking across the world.

A senior Australian official said he offered US$70,000 (about pounds 44,000) in inducements to two African members of the IOC the night before Sydney won the 2000 Games by two votes. Allegations of bribe offers and demands in Nagano in Japan, Quebec, Amsterdam and Ostersund in Sweden added to the growing storm.

Libya's delegate to the IOC resigned yesterday over the Salt Lake City bribery scandal - the second IOC delegate to resign this week.

John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee and a leader of the 2000 Sydney bid, said he had offered the $35,000 inducements to Major-General Francis Nyangweso of Uganda and Charles Mukora of Kenya in 1993 for the countries' Olympic committees for youth sport. Mr Coates said: "My view was it might encourage them to consider their votes for Sydney." Sydney beat Peking by just two votes.

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

Pirjo Haeggman, from Finland, who became the first casualty on Tuesday, was under suspicion because her former husband obtained 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 is due to report tomorrow when some IOC members are expected to 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 of the IOC.

According to a city politician interviewed by The Independent, the city's mayor, Tasuku Tsukada, was planning, as recently as last week, to burn documents relating to the bid. The assemblyman, who has served on Olympic delegations, said yesterday: "If you bid for the Olympic Games, people know that it takes money and maybe bribes.

"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, 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) official budget.

The mayor's office did not respond to inquiries last night. Earlier in the day, when asked about allegations of impropriety, Mr 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."

The Minister for Sport, Tony Banks, said yesterday that Britain would not bid for the Olympics again until the IOC "cleans up" its act. But he said he was confident reforms would sort out the corruption in the organisation.