New row over 'incentives' hits London Olympic bid

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The Independent Online

Leaders of London's Olympic Games bid were yesterday at the centre of a row over a multi-million pound incentive package offered to athletes.

Leaders of London's Olympic Games bid were yesterday at the centre of a row over a multi-million pound incentive package offered to athletes.

Each of the five bidding cities were summoned by the International Olympic Committee as part of an investigation triggered by a package of benefits intended to clinch the 2012 Games.

Much of the controversy has been caused by both London and New York, who arrived at a sports summit in Berlin to unveil a range of eye-catching initiatives.

Among the contentious inducements offered by London were £500,000 worth of training credits, a free stay in the capital for up to a year for Games officials and free flights for athletes.

Hospitality offered by New York to sports administrators before the Games even extended to free use of offices and marketing consultancies.

At issue is whether either city went beyond the bounds of IOC rules and gained an unfair advantage.

Cities are prevented from tweaking their bid after the submission in January of the 600-page Games blueprint, or "bid book''.

Amid signs of simmering tensions between rival cities, the IOC referred the matter to its ethics commission, which is charged with enforcing rules introduced after the Salt Lake City scandal aimed at eradicating bribery of voters.

Bid leaders appeared before Paquerette Girard-Zapelli, a Paris judge and special representative to the ethics commission for "clarification'' of the rules.

"We are looking to see whether [these offers] were in the bid document or whether they were new,'' the IOC spokeswoman, Giselle Davies, said.

Keith Mills, chief executive of London 2012 insisted that the incentives were fully compliant with IOC rules as they were within the official budget proposals.

"We are completely relaxed about this,'' he said.

Yesterday's episode has cast the spotlight again on the ultra-clean bidding process which those cities involved complain privately is too restrictive.

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