SPORTS

IOC chief warns 2012 candidate cities to forget about bidding war

BERLIN – The cities bidding for the 2012 Olympic Games left Berlin yesterday with warnings still ringing in their ears. After four days of frantic lobbying, Olympic President Jacques Rogge stepped in and warned the quintet of hopefuls off igniting a bidding war in the runup to the July 6 vote. «We do not want a kind of bidding war in the final few days. This would not be good for the Olympic movement,» the Belgian said. Rogge’s warning came after four days in the German capital that underlined the fact that this campaign for the Olympics is set to be the most heated and high-profile in Olympic history. Berlin’s Intercontinental hotel was a hotbed of frenetic lobbying and honeyed promises throughout. Sweeteners offered by London and New York earlier in the week caused the International Olympic Committee to step in and «clarify» a number of bidding issues. Madrid, Moscow and Paris were also called in one by one by the IOC’s ethics commission for a clarification of the bidding rules. In their presentation to the international sports federations gathered in the German capital, London highlighted a host of cash subsidies on offer were they to win the Games. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg offered sports federations a chance to gain a foothold in the lucrative US market as part of their pitch to win the race. Both cities’ bid teams strenuously denied any wrongdoing, saying their proposals were accounted for in their official bid books submitted last year. However, Rogge made it clear he was not happy that he had not known about these proposals. «It would have been much wiser on behalf of the two cities to expose their plans other than coming to the conference and telling people, ‘We promise this, we promise that’ – things we knew nothing about. That was not very wise. «You will never stop forceful characters with means and ambition from bid cities saying, ‘We want to do more.’ It is our job to say, ‘That is enough.’» The Belgian, who prizes transparency above all else in his role as IOC president, fears any kind of bidding war could resurrect fears of the corruption which dogged the organization in the 1990s. «We come from a period of excesses, from a period of red-carpet treatment and we come from a period where we had a corruption scandal in Salt Lake City,» he said. «But remember where we (IOC) come from and where we never want to go back. I want a fair system for candidate cities and I want a fair system for the IOC.» The bidding cities have been warned.