London defends its bid

LONDON (AP) – London insists it didn’t break any rules by offering incentives to sports bodies in its bid for the 2012 Olympics, and only withdrew the package to avoid a fight with the IOC. «What we have to do now is to make sure people. .. understand that we were not trying to bribe anybody,» British IOC member Craig Reedie told BBC Radio yesterday. Reedie, who is also a senior official of London’s bid committee, said it was better to retract the proposals than argue whether they were within the rules. «The feeling in the London bid was that if there was concern it was better to kill that concern immediately and withdraw the offers rather than carry on an argument about what the rules actually mean,» he said. London announced Saturday it was withdrawing the package out of respect for International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge’s warning to cities to avoid a «bidding war.» London is competing against New York, Paris, Madrid and Moscow. The IOC will select the host city on July 6 in Singapore. «This is not terminal,» London bid chairman Sebastian Coe said on BBC radio. «This is a bid that is in very good shape.» The IOC ethics commission opened an inquiry last week into whether London and New York went beyond what they proposed in their official bid documents submitted in November. The proposals were announced during an Olympic gathering in Berlin. New York was cleared Friday by the IOC, which said the city’s promise of free marketing assistance to 28 sports federations was part of its bid file. London, however, remained under scrutiny for offering more than $20 million in assistance – including $50,000 in credits to national Olympic committees toward the use of pre-Games training facilities in Britain. Also offered were free round-trip economy air fares for all teams traveling to the Games, $100 worth of free phone calls for athletes, free train travel throughout Britain, and discounts at restaurants, shops and theaters. By withdrawing the proposals, London avoided the risk of being censured by the IOC and forced to retract them. «The bidding rules are written in a pretty general sense,» Reedie said. «We examined them very closely. We believed that a package of incentives… all fell within the rules. We will just have to recover from it.» London Mayor Ken Livingstone also insisted no rules were broken. «The problem with these rules is that we drew up that package wholly within those rules,» he said. «There is nothing in the rules that says it is not allowed.» There is a clause in the bidding rules – Article 11 – which states that any new assistance programs for national Olympic committees must be submitted to the IOC for approval. «If a city is planning a sports development program, by giving equipment or operational assistance, the program must be placed under the responsibility of the IOC, which alone has the authority to determine the rules of allocation,» the rule states.

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