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BBC Sport's Gordon Farquhar
answers your questions on the Olympic votes
 real 14k

banner Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Q&A: BBC's Olympic expert
You quizzed BBC Sport's Gordon Farquhar on the Olympic Votes
BBC Sport's expert on all things Olympic, Gordon Farquhar, answered your questions on the forthcoming votes for the 2008 city and new president.

Click here to listen to his answers

The International Olympic Committee convenes in Moscow from 13 July for two landmark elections.

IOC members will decide which city will host the 2008 Olympics, and who will be their new president.

Reporting from Moscow, you quizzed BBC Sport's Gordon Farquhar about the Games and the Olympic movement in general.

Click here to listen to his answers

Lucy Smith, London

Will members change their minds and vote for someone else at the last minute, or do they already know who and which city they will vote for?

I think the view is that people made their minds up about who they were going to vote for quite a long time ago. But what we will probably see is a degree of tactical voting where people might switch votes if their preferred city or candidate for the presidency is eliminated.

The way the voting works is there are five bidding cities and five presidential candidates. After each vote, the one with the least number of votes is knocked off the bottom and they re-vote. So some people's votes will be recycled - they will have to vote for someone else because their first preference has been eliminated. The alternative is that they vote tactically to try and eliminate one city first.

Katrina, Holland

If Beijing doesn't win, what will be the reason? And will Paris or Toronto take advantage?

If Beijing doesn't win I think most people will see that as being an indication that IOC members don't see China's human rights record as good enough or it means that they don't deserve the Games on account of their human rights record which, by most people's reckoning, is pretty bad.

However, it's not as straight forward as that. The IOC membership have been asked to chose the candidate city on the basis of a technical inspection rather than on political or emotive criteria. So if the IOC membership just look at the technical criteria, then Beijing is as strong a candidate as Paris and Toronto. What Beijing has as an advantage over those two is the X-factor - many people don't know China at all. There will be a lot of support for Beijing and if it is eliminated in the early rounds, their support will have to go to Toronto or Paris and I think it will then be very close between those two.

Andre McLeod, UK

Do you think the Toronto Mayor's recent comments about Africa will impact the city's chances of being selected for 2008?

Well, it really was a gaff. The Mayor made some really derogatory remarks about a visit he was planning to make to Africa. He sort of said them half in jest and probably feels they were taken out of context. He has issued a full apology and it was clearly very embarrassing for the Toronto bid. But they have been taking soundings from the IOC members and have been careful to speak to the African members of the IOC and they don't feel that any offence has been taken. The fact that it happened a couple of weeks ago means that some of the damage, I presume, has been repaired. But if Toronto doesn't win by one or two votes, maybe people will say the Mayor effectively cost them their chances.

Andrew C, UK

Will the choice of host affect the sports selected as exhibition events? Are we likely to see any new interesting events?

Traditionally, the host city is able to put forward some suggestions for demonstration sports. It's a little difficult to see what China will come up with - perhaps some new martial arts. There is a tradition of trying to introduce new ideas at Olympic games - like ballroom dancing - even though there is no guarantee they will end up as Olympic sports.

One of the issues the IOC has to tackle is that the Games are getting too big now, there are too many sports and it is impossible to accommodate them all. It's difficult to say at this stage what they are proposing but I think we are guaranteed some interesting sideshows to the main event

John Smith, England

Can Britain ever stage an Olympics? What do we need to do to get ready to bid?

That's a huge question. The noises from the British Olympic Association are very positive. They've done an exhaustive survey on what it would take to host an Olympic Games in Britain. Their conclusion is that it would have to be based in London and they have support from the Mayor, Ken Livingstone for a bid centred around East London. It's likely that if Toronto or Beijing wins the right to stage the 2008 Olympics, that there will be a London bid for 2012. There's a will within the government, there's a will within the British Olympic Association and there's a will within the local authority in London.

In order to get ready, you really do have to work astonishingly hard. You have to be able to convince the IOC that the city has got that amount of land it needs for the Athlete's Village, the broadcast centres and to build the stadiums there. Also, that there is the political will to make it happen and also the transport infrastructure, the hotels - everything that goes into making an Olympics successful. I guess you would argue that London will be squeezed for space and the sceptics will say we're talking about the place that can't even manage to get Wembley stadium built and are now debating over Pickett's Lock, the venue for the 2005 World Athletics Championships, so it might be fanciful thinking that we will ever stage a credible Olympics bid. At the moment that's an impediment to the BOA getting a bid together for 2012.

John, UK

How much do TV and or sponsors influence the choice of venue?

Officially they don't, but unofficially people do suspect and fear that the big television companies, like NBC in the United States, are a huge influence. They have bought the right for the next two Olympic Games and have had them before. Officially television companies don't dictate where things go but it's no secret that NBC was mortified by the fairly appalling viewers figures during the Sydney Games. Americans simply weren't prepared to get up in the middle of the night to watch competition.

They will be concerned if another Asian country, Osaka in Japan or Beijing, get 2008 - it will be problematic for them again because of the time difference. These big television companies, who are effectively bankrolling the IOC, obviously have a voice and an ear of many of the delegates and senior officials. Officially, the television companies are irrelevant to the decision but clearly they have preferences and they express them.

Mary MacDonald, Canada

Why is the membership of the IOC so disproportionately weighted in Europe's favour? European members have more votes than Asia and the Americas combined. This is hardly fair.

On the face of it, that's right. The make-up of the IOC is a matter of history. Because it is a private organization, membership is through invitation based on certain criteria. You have to be a senior official within a certain sport or have a specific interest in sport in your country.

Historically, there has been more Europeans running the national sports federations and by default they have been chosen to be invited onto the IOC. It does seem unfair, but even though there has been this imbalance in the past, European cities have been rejected in favour or Seoul and Atlanta for instance. So there are examples of how the Europeans have not necessarily voted for there own continent.

Ben Lang, Bath

Will Samaranch get an honorary role with the IOC?

The suggestion has been that Samaranch will be given dome sort of honorary, presidency title. He won't have any direct influence on the day-to-day running of the business affairs but will be kept as some kind of figurehead. I don't know how accurate these reports actually are but I think we can take it that that kind of role is being considered when he does retire after 21 year's as IOC president.

He's now 81, he came into power at the Moscow Games and many people feel it is appropriate that he is given some sort of honour. But there are plenty of people who think it is entirely inappropriate, given that he allowed a culture of corruption to develop around the Salt Lake City bid. So, I think it's quite likely he will be honoured, perhaps, honorary life president is how he will be honoured by the organization.

Netta Aazgad, Israel

Is the IOC now totally clear of corruption?

It would be nice to think that it was but that would perhaps be a little na´ve. What they have done since the Salt Lake City scandal is to completely overhaul the way that they do things, making sure the opportunity for corruption no longer exists, certainly in regard to choosing the host cities.

Now they decide on a more technical basis and the members themselves are not being wined and dined and having presents lavished upon them in an inappropriate manor, which looks like clear bribery for votes. Unfortunately, I don't think we can say the IOC is clear of corruption, that's a hope and wish. And the IOC would say themselves you can never be complacent even though we've tried to changes a lot of things and got rid of a lot of members who were clearly corrupt in the past.

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