Did Chicago get hosed out of the Olympics because of backroom politicking?
A new book by a former Chinese sports minister posits the idea that the International Olympic Committee is susceptible to political gamesmanship, and leads to questions about the integrity of the voting process.
Apparently Chinese sports officials struck a deal to bring the Olympics to Beijing in 2001 by promising help Jacques Rogge win the IOC presidency.
The Chinese promised to deliver votes in return for European backing for Beijing's bid.
Rogge was elected the IOC's eighth president in July 2001, defeating three other candidates and taking over from Juan Antonio Samaranch after 21 years in power.
The allegations stem from a new book by retired Chinese sports minister and president of the Chinese Olympic Committee, Yuan Weimin. "Yuan Weimin and the Sports World," details the commitment.
The IOC denies the report.
"Jacques Rogge was elected IOC president by a large majority," the committee said in a statement from Lausanne, Switzerland. "As a candidate, he built his campaign on a strong program that was widely welcome by IOC members. Any insinuation that deals would have been made is absolutely false."
Yuan wrote that while there was no written agreement from either party, multiple meetings yielded a mutual understanding of support if Rogge won the election.
"The Beijing Olympic bid committee decided on a tactic of strategic alliance-making. We would link Chinese support for Rogge in exchange for European committee members' support for Beijing," Yuan said in his memoir. "Of course, we also made some promises to link up with some of our friends in supporting Rogge. This tactic was our overall strategy."
Beijing went on to win the 2001 vote in Moscow, defeating Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka after two rounds of voting. Beijing received 56 votes in the second round, followed by Toronto with 22.
Rogge, a Belgian who had headed the European Olympic Committees, was elected IOC president at the same meeting in Moscow. He defeated four other candidates and received a winning majority of 59 votes in the second round, more than double the votes of Kim Un-yong of South Korea (23) and Dick Pound of Canada (22).
Rogge was re-elected to a final four-year term this month in Copenhagen.
Yuan's book offers a small glimpse into the fevered politicking that surrounded the Moscow meeting in 2001 and leads to questions about the process that led to Chicago’s early ouster.
Did Rio Strike a deal?
A former Olympic sailor and orthopedic surgeon, Rogge was vying to take over an IOC trying to recover from corruption scandals surrounding previous Olympic bids. Beijing, meanwhile, was trying to become the first Chinese host for the games in a quest that had become a matter of national pride.