London Olympic bid 'breaks rules'

Click to follow
Indy Politics

London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games has been damaged by allegations that ministers may have broken rules on influencing members of the International Olympic Committee, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games has been damaged by allegations that ministers may have broken rules on influencing members of the International Olympic Committee, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

The row focuses on a Foreign Office dossier that instructs British embassies around the world to target the 118 IOC members who will vote on London's bid, by singling them out for special invitations to high-profile events and receptions.

The IOC's powerful Ethics Commission is studying the dossier, which also reveals a special fund has been set up to pay up to £1,000 towards any event "which an IOC member would attend". A source close to one of London's rivals for the games said: "There would seem to be a case for a strong censure from the IOC."

The briefing papers, authorised by the Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell, also asks the UK's embassies to gather "any additional background information" on business and personal interests of the 118 IOC members who will vote on London's bid. The briefing states: "The most important activity is still to get alongside your individual IOC members. We need to develop these relationships to their full potential." It asks embassies to ensure that IOC members have "an enjoyable evening that benefits him or her".

Sources in the Olympic movement said the Foreign Office's instructions - which have been seen by the IoS - "sail close to the wind".

After submitting its final proposal 13 days ago, London is going head to head against Paris, New York, Madrid and Moscow to host the 2012 games. But the British bid now faces complaints about its tactics from its rivals - particularly from Spain.

Last week, Madrid complained to the IOC after it emerged that the favourites, Paris, had enlisted the support of French embassies to lobby IOC members. Spain is keen to repair the damage done by the behaviour of some Spanish fans during a football match against England10 days ago.

Britain's bid has already been the focus of controversy after the BBC's Panorama revealed in August that foreign sports agents and an IOC member claimed they could "buy" votes for London by bribing key IOC members.

There was no suggestion that London's officials had any knowledge of, or link to, these claims.

Last night, the Foreign Office and London bid team insisted the UK's strategy was in line with IOC rules and had been "very carefully" drafted and vetted by their lawyers.

A spokesman for the bid team added: "The assistance being proposed is normal practice supporting relevant government-backed initiatives. We welcome the fact that embassies and High Commissions can assist in raising awareness of London, British sport and our desire to host the Games in 2012."

Comments