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Prosecutors probe potential Olympic bid corruption

March 1, 2016

Less than six months before the opening ceremony in Rio, there are fresh accusations of corruption against the International Olympic Committee. The IAAF is also under investigation.

Brasilien, Olympische Spiele 2016 Symbolbild
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kappeler

British newspaper "The Guardian" reported on Tuesday that prosecutors are taking a closer look into the bidding process for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

The prosecutors are looking into potential corruption involving the bids, according to France's financial prosecutor, Eliane Houlette. This team also launched an investigation into the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decision to give the 2021 World Athletics Championships to Eugene, Oregon, USA.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams, speaking to reporters, said there was "no evidence" of any wrongdoing. The IOC said they would help the prosecutors and act on any evidence that is uncovered.

Possible Connection with the IAAF

The IAAF may play a role in this scandal. The international sports organization is dealing with its own scandals, and the son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack, Papa Massata Diack, may be involved.

Tokyo 2020 Olympia
Four years away, but already in the spotlightImage: Getty Images/Y.Tsuno

The Guardian reported in January that leaked emails involving Papa Massata Diack in May 2008 to a Qatari business executive told the latter to send parcels to six people only identified by their initials. These initials corresponded with six IOC members. The bidding process for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games was taking place at the time, with Doha, Qatar among the bidding cities.

Papa Massata Diack was banned for life by the IAAF ethics commission in January for corruption and cover-up allegations related to Russian doping. His father, Lamine Diack, was the head of the IAAF for 16 years until he stepped down in August 2015 for taking more than one million euros ($1.1 million) in bribes in exchange for covering up doping cases. The elder Diack was also an IOC member from 1999 to 2014.

Diack and the 2020 Olympics bid

In a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission report, Lamine Diack was cited in another IAAF corruption probe. A reference in the report said Diack was ready to sell his vote for the 2020 Summer Olympics in exchange for a 4.6 million euro sponsorship of IAAF events while he was still president. The report suggested that he backed Tokyo's successful bid after they paid.

Tokyo won the 2020 Summer Olympics over Istanbul in the final round of IOC voting in 2013. Tokyo organizers said this report was "beyond our understanding" and Turkey's Olympic committee said this was not the reason they did not win the Olympics.

kd/jh (Reuters, DPA, AP)

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