Berlin firm 'spied on committee to get Olympics'

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

BERLIN'S jinxed attempt to host the Olympics in the year 2000 appeared to be on the rocks yesterday after allegations that the city had compiled secret files - including details of sexual preferences - on members of the International Olympic Committee, due to decide the venue for the Games in September next year.

The allegations, contained in a television documentary entitled: Call-girls for the Olympics - how Berlin is competing for the Games, were only partially denied by spokesmen for the city Senate and the company co-ordinating Berlin's Olympics bid. Both bodies promised to investigate the charges, but admitted that, whatever the outcome, the chances of the Games coming to Berlin had been badly damaged.

According to the television report, Berliner Olympia GmbH, the company set up to win the Games for Berlin, had used an investigative firm to find out 'intimate' and 'indiscreet' facts about all 94 IOC members, with a view to then bribing them to vote for Berlin. The information sought included details of 'sexual preferences', 'alcohol and drug consumption', 'attitudes towards the Nazi regime' and financial circumstances.

In documents shown in the programme, many of the IOC representatives from East Europe, South America, Asia and Africa, were described as being 'up for sale'. Only seven members of the IOC, which includes the Princess Royal, Prince Albert of Monaco and Prince Feisal of Saudi Arabia, were judged to be 'incorruptible'. A representative of the investigative firm allegedly employed said that 'intelligence' methods had been used to gather the information.

News of the documentary, which was screened on Monday night, has stunned Berlin. With many Berliners themselves opposed to the bid and the government unwilling to help finance it, the city already faced an uphill battle to win the Games against tough competition from Sydney, Peking, Milan and Manchester.

While initially expressing outrage over the report, Axel Nawrocki, head of the Berliner Olympia GmbH, yesterday said that an attempt to gather intimate details about IOC members may have been made by one of his predecessors in the post, which he only took over in February. The attempt had been given up after only a few days, he said, but it had nevertheless been impermissible and extremely damaging to Berlin's bid for the Olympics.

Heiner Giersberg, a spokesman for Berliner Olympia GmbH, said that since Mr Nawrocki had taken over, the company had simply sought information on the 'culinary and musical' tastes of IOC members, 'as is the custom', in order to make gifts to them. Presenting 'gifts' to IOC members - allowed up to a value of dollars 200 (pounds 107) - has long been a feature of competing to stage the Games.