Olympic Games: 15m pounds Congress achieves little except show of unity

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

FOUR days of almost non-stop talks in Paris on the future of the Olympics ended yesterday with no clear picture emerging of where the Games are heading in the 21st century.

After more than 400 speeches from sports officials, athletes, sponsors and the media, the most impressive contribution to the first Olympic Congress in 13 years was from the French taxpayer.

The week-long extravaganza for the 3,075 delegates from 192 countries cost at least 81 million francs (pounds 15m) to stage, with half of that figure provided by the French government and the city of Paris.

But there was more grumbling among delegates about the lack of genuine debate, with a succession of speakers restricted to three-minute speeches on nebulous themes rather than constructive criticism or visionary approaches to the problems besetting the movement.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, wanted a show of unity from the world of sport to mark the centenary of the founding of the modern Olympics in the French capital by Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

The IOC's executive board is due to meet today to decide what sports should be included at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.

Samaranch has already indicated triathlon and taekwondo can expect to be included. Modern pentathlon and archery were among those fearing they would be thrown out.

The board was expected to cosider making the so-called minor sports take turns on the programme.