It has become a tradition in the Olympics
world for reports to surface on the excessive amounts of cash flashed around by
Winter and Summer Games bid committees.

The latest, presented by investigators in Japan’s
Nagano prefecture as a 22-page English summary, continues this fine
tradition confirming the usual assortment of rorts, but naming no-one.

The report on the bidding for the 1998
Nagano Winter Olympics, recently released in Japan says more than $5.87 million
was spent on entertainment for IOC members in the lead-up to the 1991 vote
selecting Nagano as the host for the 1998 Games.

The report went relatively unnoticed after
being released at the end of last year until an article this
week in Salt Lake City’s Desert Morning
News
in the US. Salt Lake City was the runner-up to Nagano in the 1991 vote.

According to Olympics news publisher, Around The Rings, Utah bid leaders
cited the free-spending of their Japanese rivals as the reason Salt Lake City
tried the same tactic in their successful bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

Former Salt Lake Olympic leader Tom Welch
and his deputy on the bid committee, Dave Johnson, were accused of lavishing
more than $1.33 million in cash, gifts, medical treatment, college scholarships
and other inducements on International Olympic Committee members.

The report from Nagano says on average,
$62,000 was spent on each IOC member for entertainment.

Nagano bidders, long suspected of providing
IOC members with everything from geishas to ceremonial swords and expensive
electronics, burned their records after being awarded the 1998 Winter Games in
1991.

It’s not clear whether the findings will
lead to an inquiry by the IOC more than 15 years after the fact, but the report
suggests the destruction of bid records could be a criminal act.

This time, the revelations are unlikely to
result in the IOC rounding up a swag of culprits, according to Around The
Rings’ editor and founder Ed Hula. “Nobody is named in the report, which
really raises questions about the behaviour of the Japanese bid. Maybe some
people in Japan might face charges,” Hula told Crikey from Atlanta.

The report said criminal
charges of forgery
could arise from the document that allowed an antique sword to be taken
from
Japan and presented to IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch in 1991. It
says the Japanese Olympic Committee – which plans to bid for the 2016
Summer
Olympics – “concealed reality in order to avoid responsibility” in an
inquiry
on Nagano launched 1999 by the JOC.

Gifts to IOC members, limited at that time to a value of $200, totalled more
than $667,000, according to the Nagano report, about $7,600 per IOC member.

The IOC reportedly had no knowledge of the
Nagano report until the newspaper story on 9 January.

Peter Fray

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