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Saturday, January 23, 1999 Published at 08:53 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Sydney sucked into Olympics scandal

Sydney celebrated its successful bid with fireworks

One of the organisers of the Sydney Olympic Games has admitted he offered tens of thousands of dollars to members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) the night before they awarded the games.

John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee and a leader of the Sydney 2000 bid, said he had offered $35,000 apiece to two African members of the IOC.

[ image: John Coates says the money wasn't a bribe]
John Coates says the money wasn't a bribe
The money was pledged to the National Olympic Committees of Kenya and Uganda, through their respective IOC members, Charles Mukora and Major-General Francis Nyangweso.

The offers were made in Monte Carlo last September, the night before Sydney won the 2000 Games by two votes.

After making the disclosure in a newspaper interview, Mr Coates told a news conference on Saturday that he pledged the money because he felt Sydney's chances were "slipping away."

'Not a bribe'

Mr Coates said the payments were within IOC guidelines and similar to plans used by bidding competitors from Beijing and Manchester.

He denied the money was a bribe and said it would go toward helping sports in Kenya and Uganda.

Australian IOC Executive Board member Kevan Gosper defended Sydney's tactics.

"As far as I'm concerned Sydney won on merit and Sydney acted appropriately and acted in line with the rules," Mr Gosper told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio from Lausanne, where he is attending an inquiry into alleged bribery during Salt Lake City's successful bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

Manchester demands bid refund

The UK city of Manchester lost out on the bid and now wants Sydney stripped of the games.

"I think the IOC should take a very serious look at whether the games can be removed from Sydney. I suspect they can't. But at least they have to look at that," said Graham Stringer of the Manchester Olympics Committee.

"Secondly, because the IOC have presided over a corrupt process, at least once, if not several times, I think they should pay the bidding cities money that they spent on bidding," Mr Stringer said.

Resignations over Salt Lake City

The latest development in the crisis came shortly after a Libyan delegate became the second IOC member to resign amid vote-buying allegations in Salt Lake City's selection as host of the 2002 Winter Games.

Bashir Mohamed Attarabulsi decided to step down because his son had received college scholarships at schools in Utah paid for by the bid committee.

Earlier this week, one of Finland's representatives in the IOC, Pirjo Haeggman resigned from the committee, despite protesting her innocence of any wrongdoing.

A report into the Salt Lake City scandal - due at the weekend - is expected to reveal that bribery within the Olympic movement has been going on for decades.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the confidential report says the US city spent more than £400,000 on gifts and payments during the bidding for and after winning the 2002 Winter Games.

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