Olympic Games: Nagano's 1998 bid prompts concern

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The Independent Online
THE COMMITTEE bidding for the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics spent an average of 2.5m (pounds 13,600) on 62 visiting members of the International Olympic Committee, according to a Japanese newspaper.

Eight officials suspected of involvement with the Salt Lake City bribery scandal were among the IOC members treated to such gifts as first class airfare to Japan, all-expenses-paid stays at hot spring resorts, and helicopter tours. A Swiss paper also reported that one-third of the pounds 43m cost of Lausanne's Olympic museum was picked up by Japanese donors.

Sumikazu Yamaguchi, vice secretary general of the Nagano bid committee, last night denied the reported level of spending. No more than 500,000 (pounds 2,700) was spent on each IOC member - not including airfares - as part of a budget of 1.1bn, he said.

At least three cities have offered to host the 2002 Olympics if Salt Lake City is unable to do so. Innsbruck in Austria, Ostersund in Sweden and Lillehammer in Norway have all made official proposals.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC president, made it clear on Saturday that he would not resign over the scandal.

"Given that the period we are passing through is difficult, I must be more than ever here at the head of the IOC," he said. "We must get through this storm and bring the Olympic ship into calmer waters."