Olympics: Bach maintains corruption has not tainted IOC

Arrest of official is no reflection on Olympic body, which has anti-graft measures in place

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach at a press conference ahead of the IOC Session in Lima on Sept 11, 2017.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach at a press conference ahead of the IOC Session in Lima on Sept 11, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

LIMA (Peru) • International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach defended his organisation's handling of corruption allegations on Monday, insisting the movement could never make itself immune from scandal.

The IOC, which is gathering in Lima to award the 2024 and 2028 Olympics to Paris and Los Angeles respectively today, has been rocked by allegations of graft in the race for the Olympics last year.

Top Brazilian official Carlos Nuzman was arrested by police last week, accused of involvement in a scam to funnel cash to IOC members taking part in a 2009 vote in Copenhagen to decide the 2016 Games, eventually won by Rio.

It followed earlier revelations in France about a similar plot involving the 2013 vote in Buenos Aires which awarded the 2020 Games to Tokyo.

In the Brazilian case, a whistleblower told the New York Times he had warned the IOC about Nuzman's activities repeatedly in the years leading to his arrest.

However, Bach stressed on Monday that the IOC had acted promptly to deal with allegations as they emerged.

"Credibility for us is extremely important," Bach said. "We have taken a series of measures with regard to good governance. We have changed the candidature procedure. But this does not make us immune.

"No organisation in the world is immune. No law is so perfect that it cannot be broken. There are laws against fraud and theft for centuries and they are still being broken. It does not make us immune."

Bach said lawyers for the IOC had contacted Brazilian authorities hoping to obtain further details about the Nuzman case.

In response to letters sent to the IOC regarding Nuzman by former Brazilian sports official Eric Maleson, Bach insisted they had been dealt with properly.

"If there had been any evidence they would have followed it up," Bach said. "There are allegations concerning Mr Nuzman; as far as we know he is not even charged yet."

Bach, meanwhile, was elusive when he was asked to give his assessment of how the IOC's image had been tarnished by the various corruption allegations.

"Everybody has his own judgment of the image of somebody," he said. "You may like somebody your friend does not like, and you may have an image of somebody that your friend does not like. What are you asking me? My personal judgment? My response would be this is not my call to speak about the IOC's image."

While Paris 2024 organisers prepare to celebrate this week's award, Los Angeles officials insist that they are no less jubilant, despite having to wait 11 more years to stage the Games.

"It gives us the opportunity to think about every resident in Los Angeles," mayor Eric Garcetti told Reuters on Monday.

"Many times every city is working so hard... to build the infrastructure, they can't think about the environment, they can't think about the economy, they can't think about the health of their people.

"In the last six weeks I have been excited about a decade, 10 years to think about that, to re-imagine that and to deliver that."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Bach maintains corruption has not tainted IOC'. Print Edition | Subscribe