OLYMPIC GAMES: Samaranch braced for vote

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The Independent Online
WITH THE International Olympic Committee president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, facing a crucial confidence vote next week, the question is not whether he will win the motion but whether it will be by secret ballot or public acclamation.

With the world closely monitoring every move the IOC makes in the wake of its biggest corruption scandal, officials expect the committee will be criticised no matter which procedure is used to endorse Samaranch. The 78-year-old Spaniard, who has faced calls for his resignation from critics outside the IOC, announced in January that he would put his leadership to a vote of confidence at a special general assembly in Switzerland on 17 to 18 March.

Samaranch has overwhelming support among IOC members for his continuation in office. The confidence motion, however, is not listed on the 10-point agenda for next week's meeting, where the assembly will vote on reform proposals and expulsion of members involved in the Salt Lake City bribery scandal.

IOC members said that the confidence question is still being debated among the general membership and the leadership.

Samaranch has been canvassing the opinions of IOC members and is expected to settle on a formula later this week. Executive board member Jacques Rogge said members are divided into two camps: those who favour a secret ballot and those who prefer a round of applause or show of hands.

"What counts is not the system," he said. "What counts is whether [Samaranch] can have broad support, and I believe he will." Samaranch, elected as IOC president in 1980, has never faced a contested re-election campaign.