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  • Australian official offered $70,000 in inducements to two IOC members.
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  • IOC Opens Meeting on Corruption Scandal

  •   Privileged World of IOC's Members Under Scrutiny

    By Marc Fisher and Bill Brubaker
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    Olympic Scandal IconUn-Yong Kim of South Korea is a lord of the rings, one of the most powerful men in the International Olympic Committee. His daughter is a concert pianist.

    In 1990, when civic leaders of Melbourne, Australia, were campaigning to host the 1996 Summer Olympics and needed Kim's vote, young Hae-Jung Kim was invited to play with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. It was, a member of Melbourne's bid committee said, the kind of maneuver that "oiled the wheels of commerce."

    Melbourne didn't get those Games, but Atlanta did. In 1996, Hae-Jung Kim was a soloist at Atlanta's Olympic Arts Festival.

    And when Salt Lake City's campaign to win the 2002 Winter Games was in high gear, guess who played two concerts with the Utah Symphony? A spokesman for the pianist's agent, Linda Dozoretz, said Kim's Atlanta and Salt Lake City concerts were arranged by someone other than her agent. "I gather it's the father," she said.

    The elder Kim is one of 13 IOC members under investigation in the corruption scandal that the 115-member group will address this weekend in Switzerland. The accused will appear today to offer their defenses, and nine face possible expulsion as the IOC tries to stanch the bleeding from a worldwide bribery scandal.

    But even as the committee moves toward reform, the revelations continue: Yesterday, an Australian Olympic official said that on the eve of the IOC vote on the location of the 2000 Games, he offered $70,000 to sway two African members. Sydney won by two votes.

    On paper, the 13 IOC members now in trouble seem no different from their colleagues. They are princes and sports ministers, former athletes and former communists, Africans and Asians, Europeans and South Americans. Like all IOC members, they lead pampered lives, circumnavigating the globe always first-class as they inspect cities that want a taste of Olympic gold.

    They are, by all accounts, a demanding bunch. While the current scandal first focused on Salt Lake City's bid, reports from Olympic hopefuls around the world now paint a portrait of IOC members asking for cash, cars, women, real estate and campaign contributions for themselves, as well as medical treatment, college tuition and jobs for relatives. Desperate bidders sometimes balked, but often obliged.

    IOC member Sergio Santander of Chile got $10,000 from Salt Lake organizers for his campaign for mayor of Santiago, Olympic officials say. Pirjo Haeggman of Finland, who resigned from the IOC last week, got a rent-free house in Quebec City from that city's bid committee. Her husband got two jobs first with the Ontario provincial government and later with the Salt Lake City bid committee.

    The daughter of Agustin Arroyo of Ecuador, an IOC member since 1968, got a job with the Utah Department of Economic Development. When that didn't work out, she was hired to answer phones at the Salt Lake City bid committee office, and after she left there, the organizers gave her tuition and expenses to attend school in Texas.

    Arroyo, a chunky, mustachioed lawyer and industrialist, has denied any knowledge of favors for his daughter.

    Money and Temptation
    Estimates of the Salt Lake City committee's largesse toward IOC members now range up to $800,000 a relative pittance in the billion-dollar commercial bonanza that the Olympics have become since the 1980s, as corporate sponsorships, TV money and ancillary products assumed center stage in the international athletic extravaganza. "Increased money brings increased temptation," said Kevan Gosper, one of six executive board members who will decide the fates of the 13 accused.

    (Yesterday, a second member resigned Bashir Attarabulsi of Libya quit amid reports that Salt Lake City organizers paid tuition and living expenses for his son. Suhel Attarabulsi, 26, received $700 a month to attend Brigham Young University and then Salt Lake Community College.) Gosper contends the scandal involves only ahandful of Olympic officials, but he conceded that the Games face "the most serious crisis of confidence" to date.

    Gosper said IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch should spurn calls for his resignation. "Samaranch needs to stay to see us through this crisis," Gosper said. "He has built prestige for the movement and put the Games on solid financial ground."

    But it also is becoming clear that Olympic prosperity and the vesting of Olympic power in the hands of a traveling band of IOC members have led to a culture of corruption, particularly among a handful of members whose names repeatedly pop up as bid committees worldwide recall their experiences:

    Jean-Claude Ganga, 64, a veteran sports administrator from the Republic of Congo, has served as his country's ambassador to China and spent years organizing against South African apartheid.

    But in recent years, Ganga known in Africa as the continent's most influential Olympic figure has devoted much of his time to the IOC inspection circuit, a lucrative and luxurious pursuit. Ganga is alleged to have taken cash payments, demanded free medical care for himself and his mother, and held himself out as an agent who could deliver for a price a bloc of African IOC votes.

    "He seemed to have a very unique role in garnering votes for Olympic cities," said Bruce Baird, an Australian government minister who ran Sydney's successful bid for the 2000 Summer Games.

    Ganga's denials of wrongdoing have been as startling as some of the allegations against him.

    He told Radio France that it "is normal to have some free medical treatment. . . . Africans have not the monopoly on corruption in the world. There's corruption with the Asians, the Europeans and the Americans. But the American press just speaks about the African people. Some [IOC] members have asked to be paid $700,000 to vote for Salt Lake City, so don't ask me about just $60,000."

    Former Salt Lake Olympics chief Tom Welch has said he gave Ganga $70,000, ostensibly to feed children in his impoverished country.

    In 1995, three months after Salt Lake City was awarded the 2002 Games, Ganga bought and quickly sold at a $60,000 profit three land parcels in a suburb 20 miles from the Olympic downhill ski course. Ganga's real estate deal was initiated by Bennie Smith, the only black member of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, who was dispatched to woo African IOC members.

    Ganga, who has houses in Paris and Brazzaville, is considered a close ally of Samaranch. Ganga was a leader of the successful drive in 1995 to raise the IOC retirement age from 75 to 80 to permit Samaranch to remain atop the organization.

    Olympic hopefuls around the world recall Ganga well. In Sweden, organizers of Ostersund's bid for the 1994 Games say Ganga asked the committee to build a handball court in his hometown in the Congo.

    "He wanted not only that we would build a handball arena, but that we would help to arrange for a handball coach," bid committee member Stig Hedlund told the newspaper Laenstidningen. "I said that we had neither the resources nor the possibility of doing any such thing."

    "I have done nothing wrong," Ganga told his French interviewer. "I will not become rich because I voted for Salt Lake City. That is why I am so serene."

    In January 1994 17 months before IOC members would vote on Salt Lake City's fate Salt Lake committee chief Welch asked officials at Intermountain Health Care to provide free care for "'individuals here in town from Third World countries,'" recalled Daron Cowley, a spokesman for the health care company.

    Ganga was treated twice for hepatitis. His mother had knee-replacement surgery, ankle surgery and a second knee operation. Total cost was $14,000, excluding doctors' fees.

    Free Medical Care
    In May 1995-a month before the IOC vote Welch sought treatment for another visiting IOC member, according to Richard L. Anderson, a facial plastic surgeon.

    Anderson agreed to see the patient. "He had a bump on the eyelid. I told him I would be happy to take that off," Anderson said. The IOC member also had "very droopy, baggy eyelids" that would require plastic surgery, but Anderson did not offer to perform that procedure.

    Later that day, Anderson received a call from Welch.

    "Tom indicated that the gentleman would like to have the bags out of his eyelids, and would I be willing to do that?" Anderson said. "Tom said, 'I think this is important to the Salt Lake bid and I feel it's important enough that I'll pay it out of my own pocket.'"

    The surgeon did the work for free and called it "a donation toward what I hoped was good for Utah. . . . I don't feel like a slime ball for doing this."

    IOC members from impoverished nations have a history of obtaining free medical care during their visits to affluent countries. In 1990, David Sikhulumi Sibandze of Swaziland got help from Olympic organizers in Atlanta when he needed care for heart pain.

    In 1986, Sibandze, a former postmaster and father of eight children, asked the Olympic bid committee in Falun, Sweden, to find a place for his son Sibu at a Swedish university. A 1986 letter from the general secretary of the Swedish National Olympic Committee to Sibandze describes how Swedish bidders went to considerable lengths "to investigate whether those wishes of your son can be realized."

    According to Andrew Jennings, a British journalist who has written "The Lords of the Rings" and two other books on corruption in the IOC, the Swedes did place Sibandze's son at a college, but the young man never enrolled.

    The elder Sibandze told The Times of London last month that his effort on behalf of his son failed. "When you visit cities and you become happy, you discuss these things, but some of them don't materialize," he said.

    Young Sibu Sibandze didn't get a place at a Swedish college, but he did end up at the University of Utah when Salt Lake City got into the bidding game. The son also worked as a paid intern with the Salt Lake City government.

    University officials said they do not know whether Sibandze's tuition was paid by the local Olympic committee. The Salt Lake City mayor's office said it found no evidence linking his internship to the Olympic organizers.

    The son obtained that job entirely on his own, the father said. "He phoned me to say, 'Oh Dad, I got a job.'"

    Helping a Friend
    Of all the IOC members implicated so far in the scandal, perhaps the most powerful is Kim, the South Korean who serves on the committee's executive board. He has been asked to explain his role in a 1991 incident in which Kim and Russian IOC member Vitaly Smirnov asked Salt Lake Olympics officials for help in enrolling a Russian teenager at a U.S. college.

    "I did not do anything that I should be ashamed of," Kim a former intelligence officer and head of the World Taekwando Federation told reporters. "I don't even feel it necessary to comment on it because I have absolutely nothing to do with the scandal." The Russian student incident, he said, "was simply an effort to help a friend."

    Kim did not address the question of his daughter's concerts, at least one of which appears to have been an initiative of the local Olympic bidders.

    In Salt Lake City, Hae-Jung Kim, who was paid $5,000 for two concerts, was hired "purely on her merits," said Joseph Silverstein, then music director of the Utah Symphony. "I heard her tape and I was impressed. I only became aware that there was a connection to the IOC somewhat later."

    But in Melbourne, the idea was that "her father would appreciate the extent to which Melbourne liked the cultural work of his daughter," said Shane Maloney of the bid committee there. The young musician's talents were not the point. "I think she probably tinkled in the C division rather than the A," Maloney said.

    Fisher reported from Washington and Brubaker from Salt Lake City. Staff writer William Drozdiak in Lausanne and researchers Rob Thomason and Margot Williams in Washington also contributed to this report.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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