Olympic Games: Bribes bring call to scrap `tainted' event

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AUSTRALIA'S FORMER sports minister has called on the International Olympic Committee to scrap the Olympic Games after 2004 - because their credibility has been so badly damaged by the latest bribes scandal.

Andrew Thomson, the son of the five-times Open golf champion Peter Thomson, said the time had come for the Olympic Games to be replaced by another global sporting event organised by a different group of people. "If you're going to organise sport on a global level I would have thought the first requirement would be that it be ethically clean and that there be no suggestion of any financial taint to it all," Thomson said in Sydney yesterday.

"But I don't think that with these people [IOC members] appointed for life, silly as that obviously is, that they can redeem themselves.

"Why can't we organise a global competition in some other form where the franchises are not handed out by this extraordinary, bizarre group of men.

"What better than to say Athens, Olympic history and all that, why not make 2004 the last?"

The IOC was embarrassed earlier this month when the executive board member Marc Hodler said that some IOC members had taken money or favours from bidding cities in return for votes to secure the right to host Olympic festivals.

Thomson, who was replaced by Jackie Kelly as the Australian sports minister after a general election in October, said he believed Sydney's bid for the 2000 Games had been above board.

Sydney was chosen in 1993 as 2000 hosts after a bitter struggle with Peking.

"From what I've heard from others, Sydney's bid was clean - that was the great miracle of it," Thomson said.

"Having the Games in Sydney despite some of the fuss surrounding SOCOG [the Sydney organising committee] is the only way the Olympic movement could possibly maintain even the slightest cleanliness about it.

"I think that if the Games had gone to Peking, given the drug problems in China, that would have killed it off very quickly."