2002 Winter Olympic bid scandal

2002 Winter Olympic bid scandal

The 2002 Olympic Winter Games bid scandal was a scandal involving allegations of bribery to obtain the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. Before 1995, the city had attempted several times to secure the games, but failed each time. In 1995 Salt Lake City was announced as the host city, but in 1998 the members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were accused of taking bribes from the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC).

Early bid attempts

*1932 Olympic Winter Games – In 1929, only five years after the first games in Chamonix, France, Salt Lake City attempted for the first time to bid for the Winter Olympics. The Utah Ski Club tried to procure the 1932 games for Salt Lake, but they went to Lake Placid, New York instead. Due to early Olympic rules (which have since changed) Salt Lake could not bid for the 1936 games in Germany, since the summer games host had rights to the winter games.
*1972 Olympic Winter Games – Salt Lake City's second attempt was more organized. Fact|date=February 2007 State and city officials got the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to endorse the city, but they again lost, this time to Sapporo, Japan.

*1976 Olympic Winter Games – The USOC picked Denver, Colorado over Salt Lake City to represent the United States in bidding. Denver won the bid, but taxpayers voted against funding the games. Salt Lake put itself forward as a candidate, but in the fallout, the games were awarded to Innsbruck, Austria, who had recently hosted in 1964.

*1992 Olympic Winter Games – Salt Lake City did not try to bid again until 1985 for the 1992 games, but the USOC went with Anchorage, Alaska. After Anchorage lost both in 1992 and 1994, Salt Lake was back in the running for 1998.

The winning bid

Ogden-born lawyer Tom Welch and car salesman Dave Johnson were in charge of the Salt Lake Bid Committee and took an aggressive approach to winning the Olympics. They flew out to Europe, Latin America and Africa to meet with the International Olympic Committee members.

Even after all of this, the 1998 Games went to Nagano, Japan in a 46-to-42 vote. Many felt the reason was because the US had recently been awarded the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Others, including Welch, believed it was because Nagano had better wined and dined the officials.

Welch and Johnson decided to try harder the next round. Prior to the IOC vote for 1998, they had given out Stetson hats to delegates. For 2002 they decided to give out more than hats.

Millions were spent on perks including all-expense-paid ski trips, thirteen scholarships, Super Bowl trips, and plastic surgery. IOC members were given deals on real estate, and their family members were given jobs. [ [http://www.cnn.com/US/9901/15/olympics.01/ Senior U.S. Olympic Committee member resigns over Salt Lake scandal] ] [ [http://www.indianexpress.com/res/web/pIe/ie/daily/19990123/02350105.html IOC scandal leads to second resignation] ] Cash bribes may have been employed. When the scandal broke, the cryptic "geld document" allegedly recorded personal preferences of IOC members [cite web |title= Memo Details Payments Made to Influence Bids
url= http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F07E0DC113DF934A15756C0A9669C8B63 | publisher= New York Times |format=html | accessdate=2007-11-07 |date=2000-05-27
] . Beside some members' names, the document contained the word "geld", (German for "money") arguably indicating such members' receptiveness to cash bribes.

The plan worked, for in 1995 the IOC announced Salt Lake City the winner. 50,000 people gathered outside the Salt Lake City and County Building to hear the formal announcement.


Scandal broke on December 10, 1998, when Swiss IOC member Marc Hodler, head of the coordination committee overseeing the organization of the 2002 games, announced that several members of the IOC had taken bribes. Soon four independent investigations were underway: by the IOC, the USOC, the SLOC, and the United States Department of Justice.

Before any of the investigations could even get under way both Welch and Johnson resigned their posts as the head of the SLOC. Many others soon followed. The Department of Justice filed charges against the two: fifteen charges of bribery and fraud. Johnson and Welch were eventually acquitted of all criminal charges in December 2003.

As a result of the investigation ten members of the IOC were expelled and another ten were sanctioned. [ [http://www.deseretnews.com/oly/view/0,3949,35000108,00.html Samaranch reflects on bid scandal with regret] ] This was the first expulsion or sanction for corruption in the more than a century the IOC had existed. Although nothing strictly illegal had been done, it was felt that the acceptance of the gifts was morally dubious. Stricter rules were adopted for future bids and ceilings were put into place as to how much IOC members could accept from bid cities. Additionally new term and age limits were put into place for IOC membership, and fifteen former Olympic athletes were added to the committee.

In 2006, a report ordered by the Nagano region's governor said the Japanese city provided millions of dollars in an "illegitimate and excessive level of hospitality" to IOC members, including $4.4 million spent on entertainment alone. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20060109/ai_n15989280 illegitimate and excessive level of hospitality] ]


Mitt Romney was brought in to head the SLOC [cite web |accessdate = 2007-11-07 |url=http://edition.cnn.com/US/9902/11/olympics.01/index.html?eref=sitesearch| title=Romney hired to lead Salt Lake Olympic organizing committee |date=1999-02-11 |format=html |publisher=CNN] . Romney aided in reorganizing the committee and helped to begin fixing the budget, which at the time was USD $379 million short, and renewing sponsor enthusiasm. [cite web | accessdate=2007-11-07 | url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/us/politics/19romney.html | publisher= New York Times | title=In Olympics Success, Romney Found New Edge | date= 2007-09-19 | format=html]


*Benson, Lee, (2001). "Lee Benson's Inside Guide to the Games 2002 Salt Lake City", Provo, Utah: CP Grafix, Deseret Publishing Company. ISBN 0-9709066-0-9
*Benson, Lee; Easton-Black, Susan, (2000). "Salt Lake 2002: an Official Book of the Olympic Winter Games", Shadow Mountain Press. ISBN 1-57345-795-7
*Jennings, Andrew, (2000). "The Great Olympic Swindle: When the World Wanted Its Games Back", Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-86677-3
* [http://2002.ksl.com/news-7710i.php?p=1 KSL.com report on the total profits of the game]

External links

* [http://www.ldc.upenn.edu/Projects/TDT3/topic.research/topic3038.html Olympic Bribery Scandal essay]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/297030.stm BBC timeline of Olympic bid scandal]

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