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Thursday, February 11, 1999 Published at 22:53 GMT


Scandal-hit Olympic city sweeps clean

The Olympic flame burned brightly at previous Winter Olympics

A new chief executive has been brought in to head Salt Lake City's preparations for the Winter Olympics in 2002 as organisers promise a new policy of openness and accountability.

The moves follow an inquiry into corruption allegations which found that the two top officials who led the city's bid for the games paid more than $1m to 24 members of the International Olympic Committee, which chose the games venue.

The inquiry report noted that corrupt payments to IOC members were concealed through inadequate accounting.

Salt Lake City is taking several measures to restore its tarnished reputation.

  • Meetings of the organising committee will be open to the public as will its financial records

  • Athletes and community representatives brought in to broaden the base of the organising committee

  • New chief executive appointed

  • A new, stricter policy on ethical behaviour

The new Chief Executive, Mitt Romney, is a leading Boston businessman and a prominent member of the Mormon church, which has its headquarters in the city.

[ image: The ethics report into the scandal was released on Tuesday]
The ethics report into the scandal was released on Tuesday
Speaking after being named to head the committee, Mr Romney said he did not believe the bribery scandal would ruin the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games.

"The Olympics is about sports, not business. The Olympics is about athletes, not managers. The managers have messed up, but the athletes haven't," Mr Romney said at a meeting of the organising committee's board.

One of his first tasks, he said, was to talk to sponsors of the 2002 Games.

The biggest sponsor of the games, Coca Cola, has said on Thursday it remained committed to sponsorship but wanted the scandal to be cleaned up and steps taken to prevent future problems.

Three members of the organising committee have resigned: Earl Holding, Alan Layton and Verl Topham.

The Governor of the State of Utah, Mike Leavitt, has also sent out a message to the leaders of the Olympic movement in Switzerland.

They must act boldly and decisively, he said, to put their own house in order, otherwise the integrity of the Olympic Games would be further eroded.

The IOC has warned that it may consider expelling more of its members following the inquiry into the Salt Lake City corruption scandal.

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