IOC publishes final reform recommendations

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The Independent Online

The International Olympic Committee on today released finalized reform recommendations it plans to submit to the IOC membership for vote at the Extraordinary Session next month.

The International Olympic Committee on today released finalized reform recommendations it plans to submit to the IOC membership for vote at the Extraordinary Session next month.

The panel endorsed a series of key proposals, including the appointment of 15 athletes to the IOC and the introduction of an eight-year term of office and reelection process for IOC members.

The report included a total of 50 reform recommendations adopted last month by the IOC 2000 Commission - an 80-member task force set up by the IOC in the wake of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal - and will be submitted to the full IOC general assembly at a special session in Lausanne 11-12 December.

With delegates unable to come to a consensus on the contentious issue of visits to bid cities, the report offered two options.

Members will either vote to accept the IOC 2000 recommendation that visits "are not necessary" or vote for a tightened visits procedure, which requires submitting individual, formal requests to travel to candidate cities.

"IOC members who believe it is necessary to visit a candidate city so as to be in a position to make an objective assessment of the city concerned, can make such a request to the IOC executive board," the report said. "The executive board will decide under which conditions the visit(s) can take place and the IOC administration will organize and cover the costs of such visits."

After revelations that Salt Lake City had provided medical care, lavish hospitality and scholarships to certain IOC members and their families during its successful campaign for the 2002 Winter Games, the IOC banned visits during the bidding for the 2006 Games.

But many members have insisted that visits are necessary and should be reinstated - though carefully monitored - so they can make an informed choice on host cities.

Others are in favor of a complete ban, saying members should rely on the findings of the special evaluation commission - made up of IOC and non-IOC technical experts - which will continue to visit cities and prepare a detailed report on each bid.

While some reforms will require a two-thirds vote to pass, the visits ban would only need a simple majority because it wouldn't require altering the Olympic Charter.

IOC members will also vote on a proposal requiring cities wishing to host the Games to meet certain criteria before being allowed to submit a bid.

The report pushed for an age limit of 70 for future members, with a grandfather clause protecting existing members already covered by the 80 age limit.

Recommendations also included the application of eight-year renewable terms of office. After eight years, members can seek reelection by the IOC assembly.

The report recommended limiting IOC membership to 115 with 15 active athletes appointed as full members, as well as 15 presidents of international federations and 15 presidents of national Olympic committees or continental associations.

The remaining 70 members would be elected on an individual basis.

The reform recommendations also called for the creation of a special selection committee to screen candidates for IOC membership.

With the IOC under intense scrutiny by critics in the US Congress, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch has agreed to testify in Congress about the reforms on 15 December.

Congress, skeptical about the reform efforts, threatened sanctions if the IOC falls short in its cleanup efforts.

If Congress is dissatisfied with the outcome, legislation could discontinue American corporate support for the Olympics and strip the IOC's tax-exempt status in the United States.

Members of the IOC 2000 Commission include former UN General Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former US Secretary of States Henry Kissinger, NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol and former Norwegian Foreign Minister Thomas Stoltenberg. IOC 2000 members will attend the 110th Extraordinary IOC Session in December.

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