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Sunday, June 20, 1999 Published at 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK


Swiss anger at Olympic loss

Stunned silence in the centre of Sion as the news was announced

Locals in the Swiss city of Sion, which lost the contest to host the 2006 Winter Olympics to Turin, have been venting their anger and disappointment at the decision.

The BBC's Rupert Carey: "It was Turin's first ever bid"
International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch announced the result of the closely-fought contest after a bidding process overshadowed by the Salt Lake City scandal.

BBC Sports Correspondent Harry Peart says Turin may have benefited from anti-Swiss sentiment within the IOC after a Swiss delegate accused IOC members of taking bribes during Salt Lake City's successful bid for the 2002 winter games.

[ image: Sion had been confidant of its chances]
Sion had been confidant of its chances
In Sion itself locals who had gathered in the city's Place de la Planta to expecting to celebrate their city's victory appeared to share that sentiment.

Some said the IOC, whose headquarters was just 100km from Sion, was no longer welcome in Switzerland. "IOC go to Palermo," said one placard on display.

"It's not logical," said one local. "We're about winter sports much more than Turin, we don't understand. Nobody knows the reason and I doubt we ever will. We are disgusted."

Explanation demanded

One Swiss TV commentator declared the result "a scandal."

[ image: Grim faces from the Sion officials at the news]
Grim faces from the Sion officials at the news
Swiss Olympic officials have expressed their own bitter disappointment at the decision and said they would demand an explanation from the IOC.

"It is very hard," said Swiss Vice-President and leader of the Sion bid Adolf Ogi. "You have to wonder if (our) country has any political and international importance any more.

The other four contenders - Finnish capital, Helsinki, Austria's Klagenfurt, Slovakia's Poprad Tatry and Poland's Zakopane - were eliminated at an earlier stage.

Harry Peart reports from Seoul: "A bit of a slap in the face for Switzerland"
It is first time since the 1956 Games in Cortina D'Ampezzo that the Winter Olympics will be staged in Italy.

The Committee's members were banned from visiting the cities because of the Salt Lake City bidding scandal, which led to the expulsion or resignation of 10 members.

New voting system

[ image: Evelina Christillin, head of Turin's bid, screams for joy]
Evelina Christillin, head of Turin's bid, screams for joy
Instead, an electoral college which includes eight IOC members was selected.

Together with members of the evaluation and athletes commissions, they reduced the field to two cities.

All the members were then allowed to vote for the winner.

The system, which was hastily imposed after the Salt Lake City scandal, has been criticised by IOC members and by the bidding cities.

They say it is unreasonable to have members relying on books, videos and a 60-minute presentation to decide such an important issue.

The IOC 2000 task force, which is looking into major reforms of the movement, will make recommendations to improve the system.

When bidding for the 2002 Winter Games, Salt Lake City distributed more than $1m to IOC members.

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