Olympic Games: Britain urged to refuse Olympic bid

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN SHOULD not bid for the Olympics until the International Olympic Committee has proved the bidding process is free of corruption, a member of parliament said yesterday.

Graham Stringer, who was the leader of Manchester city council during two failed bids for the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, said he welcomed a statement made by Marc Hodler, a senior IOC official, last week. Hodler claimed that agents had been trying for a decade to take cash from bidding cities in exchange for votes.

"The IOC has a moral obligation to prove to national Olympic committees, participating countries and bidding cities that the procedures they go through are non-corrupt, honest, fair and objective," Stringer said.

The IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, said on Sunday that the organisation would expel any members found guilty of corruption. An IOC committee is currently investigating accusations of payments made in Salt Lake City's successful bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

Stringer, a member of the lower house, said he had first hand experience of the behaviour of some IOC members from his time at Manchester city council. He said that two IOC members, from different parts of the world, had tried to make money out of their visits.

Stringer said that one member had sought pounds 12,000 reimbursement for money allegedly stolen from his hotel room. "When we said we would get the police to investigate he did not seem keen." Stringer said he had not personally conducted the negotiations but was aware of them. There was no question of any reimbursement being paid, however. "It was merely a way of asking for cash."

The MP said another member had his air fare paid by Manchester when he had also had it paid by the IOC. "It took some time to get the money back." Stringer insisted that Manchester had been scrupulous in following guidelines set out by the IOC on gifts to members.