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Wednesday, November 25, 1998 Published at 12:36 GMT


Sydney embarrassed by Games row

Preparations for the 2000 Sydney Olympics have been disrupted by the "embarrassing" resignation of organising committee member Rod McGeoch.

He led the team which secured the Games for the Australian city but stood down from the organising committee, SOCOG, following claims that he asked for payment to speak about the Olympics to a business delegation from the USA.

McGeoch insists he made no such request, but stood down to prevent SOCOG's reputation being seriously damaged.

[ image: The Sydney acquatic centre]
The Sydney acquatic centre
He said: "Our international image in the Olympic community and elsewhere must be suffering as a result of what's gone on in the last fortnight and I'm doing my part to make it stop."

The matter will be discussed at a meeting between International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch and Australian counterpart John Coates at a meeting this weekend.

Coates played down the problem, saying: "No doubt the issue's gone around the world but put it in context, it's one board member out of 14."

But he admitted that the resignation had caused embarrassment and "some damage to SOCOG and the Olympics".

Lois O'Donoghue is lobbying to replace McGeoch, despite last year urging Aborigines to use the Games as a platform for political protest if the government fail to address land rights issues.

She held talks with SOCOG chief executive Sandy Holloway on Wednesday and said: "If I was appointed I would see myself as a SOCOG board member - admittedly with indigenous interest uppermost in my mind."

New South Wales state premier Bob Carr and Olympics minister Michael Knight both want a woman to fill the vacancy, with only Anna Booth currently on the SOCOG board.

[ image: Beijing Mayor Jia Quinglin presents the city's application]
Beijing Mayor Jia Quinglin presents the city's application
Beijing lost out to Sydney in the vote for the millenium Games, but has launched a new bid for the right to stage the 2008 Olympics.

The Chinese Olympic Committee must select a national candidate before submitting a formal application to the IOC in 2001.

"We think that, as the world's most populous country with a vigorous and growing economy, China should host the Olympic Games and make more contributions to the Olympic movement," said Chinese Olympic committee presidnet Wu Shaozu.

Osaka in Japan and the Canadian city of Tornoto have already declared their interest in staging the 2000 Games.

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