Samaranch: Wife's trip to Atlanta was just Southern hospitality

To International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch, the $12,000 spent by Atlanta leaders entertaining his wife and a friend in 1990 while the city was trying to land the 1996 Summer Games was just a case of hospitality run amok.

To International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch, the $12,000 spent by Atlanta leaders entertaining his wife and a friend in 1990 while the city was trying to land the 1996 Summer Games was just a case of hospitality run amok.

"The American South is famous for its hospitality," the 79-year-old Spaniard told a US Congressional panel today. He was repeating a line that then-US Vice President Dan Quayle had used in a letter to Maria Teresa Samaranch after her visit to Atlanta, Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina.

"She was invited and they felt they should pay the cost," Samaranch said. "But I don't think this stuff is really that important."

Representative Joe Barton, a Republican, disagreed.

He asked Samaranch how the Olympic movement benefited by the organizers of the Atlanta games spending that much money to entertain his wife, treating her to shopping trips and fashion shows. Barton said Atlanta records show that Mrs Samaranch had no interest in visiting any of the proposed venues for the Atlanta Games.

"She just wanted to go to artsy-craftsy places and participate in high society," Barton said.

"This is a problem of the organising committee," Samaranch told the House Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations. "This was an invitation based on friendship. That is all I can discern."

Barton's questioning of Samaranch over his wife's trip was the IOC president's tensest moment during nearly more than two hours of testimony. The subcommittee has been investigating abuses in the IOC process that led to Atlanta's selection as the host city for the 1996 games.

Afterward, Samaranch said he was not upset by Barton's inquiries.

"I was expecting that," he said.

Indeed, Barton had asked Samaranch only if he knew his wife had traveled to the South in 1990 at the expense of the Atlanta organisers when the IOC president launched into a lengthy justification of the trip. Barton cut him off, insisting that Samaranch answer the question.

"Not only did I know," he replied, "but I also advised her to go."

Samaranch said he came to Atlanta alone in 1989 and officials of the city's organising committee "regretted the fact that my wife was not with me." He said they insisted on inviting her to come see the South at a later date and he advised her to accept the invitation.

"She was treated very well," he said.

After Samaranch left, Barton asked former Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, a member of the new ethics commission created to police the IOC, if the reforms adopted by the IOC last weekend would bar such independent travel at host city expense by spouses and other relatives of IOC members.

"I'm not touching that; I know trouble when I see it," Baker replied with a laugh. But he conceded when pressed by Barton that the issue is one the new ethics panel should take a look at.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee