The Sniper's Guide to the Bird's Nest
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LIFE AMONG the Olympic Lords isn’t what it was. Once they welcomed the richest man in the world to their ranks. He’d bulldozed the delicate ecology of the Japanese Alps to build winter sports resorts for himself and the Nagano games of 1998 and contributed millions to Samaranch’s Olympic museum. They gave Yoshiaki Tsutsumi a Gold Olympic Order and made him an Honour Member. That was revoked in 2005 after Tokyo fraud detectives had cause to visit his office, unannounced.
They are having to forget cheery Ivan Slavkov from Sofia, caught by a BBC hidden camera in 2004 soliciting a sacred bribe to vote the 2012 event to London. I worked on the programme and, on his way out of the Olympic door, Ivan denounced me as ‘a homosexual.’
One member fought to keep Ivan’s bum on their padded benches. FIFA president Sepp Blatter, an IOC member, protected Slavkov at football after the IOC dumped him. FIFA and the IOC share the sacred goal of sustaining corruption in the developing world.
Another dear friend sadly missed by some Committee members is the Director-general of the Olympic Council of Asia, Abdul Ahmad Muttaleb, an able organiser of kickbacks. Abdul trousered $62,400 from Salt Lake City to nominate IOC members who’d take bribes, was caught at it again by the BBC and this year was revealed pocketing $250,000 from the ISL company that organised marketing for the IOC and FIFA. His patron, Sheikh Al-Sabah of Kuwait had to let him go. The Sheikh is one of the four stupendously rich Gulf members of the IOC, all of them royalty.
Look around for a small man wearing a big hat pulled low across his face. Bob Hasan, the wealthy best friend of Suharto who warehoused the Indonesian dictator’s looting has completed his six years jail and is keen to return. He’s had to relinquish his title of the world’s biggest rainforest logger.
The last time I saw him an IOC gathering, he was smothered in an embrace by German member Thomas Bach.
OVER THERE in the comfy seats is Mexico’s Mario Vazquez Rana. He’s overcome the handicap of vast wealth to be re-elected, un-opposed, president of all the world’s national Olympic committees every four years since 1979. Samaranch forced Mario through the IOC door in 1991. He got 13 votes for, 10 against and 60 abstained. Brother Olegario joined him in 1995. Their preferred sport? Shooting.
As the protective police cordons closed tight around the travelling sacred flame in April, Mario said freedom of expression was a ‘fundamental right of athletes’ but they should be given ‘guidance on where their freedom ends.’
Also in the Bird’s Nest is Uganda’s Major-General Francis Nyangweso, a valued member of their commission for culture and Olympic education and much quieter than when he was Army commander for the murderous dictator Idi Amin. Francis has overcome the stigma of blindness when in a high position at amateur boxing. He couldn’t see those fights being fixed. Nor anything wrong in taking $35,000 from the Sydney bidding team, in the best interests of young athletes, of course. Continued...