Richard Caborn, the Minister for Sport, yesterday admitted that he had offered Harrods shopping trips to the wives of International Association of Athletics Federations officials in a bid to gain acceptance of Sheffield as host to the 2005 World Championships.
Following the Government's decision to abandon the building of a stadium to host the Championships in Picketts Lock, north London, Caborn and the Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell met IAAF officials last Thursday to promote Sheffield as the substitute venue while offering to hold the annual IAAF Congress, which will precede the event, in the capital.
Caborn, a Sheffield MP, said the offer to organise shopping trips and sightseeing visits had been made to help Britain's tourist industry. He also accepted that he had offered to set up training bursaries for African athletes in what proved to be a vain effort to persuade the IAAF to accept a stadium outside London for their biennial event.
"We offered to let the IAAF stage their congress in London and then offered trips around the capital," Caborn said. "Then, in the light of what the Prime Minister said about helping Africa in his speech at the Labour Party conference last week, we told them we would like to develop a full bursary and said we could bring African and Third World athletes to the UK for training ...as far as I am concerned what we did was in good faith."
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