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Others in SLOC should accept blame, too

SHARE Others in SLOC should accept blame, too

There has been been considerable skepticism expressed in the press and on TV in recent weeks regarding the SLOC's assertion that only two people knew of the payments made to IOC members to help to obtain the 2002 Winter Games for Salt Lake City. As a member of the 1966 SLOC, which prepared Salt Lake's bid presented to the IOC in Rome for the 1972 Winter Games, I share that skepticism.

True, there are major differences in the circumstances surrounding the two bids: In the '60s and '70s, the IOC required athletes to be amateur, whereas pro athletes now are allowed. Also, TV revenues were not nearly as big a factor, and consequently, our '60s budget and projected revenues were much smaller. What has not changed, though, is the imperious and secretive demeanor of the IOC, which has led to recent excesses by bid cities, including Salt Lake City.The desire to win the 1972 and 2002 bids was probably equally strong. The membership of our '66 organizing committee was also very strong. It included Gov. Cal Rampton, the mayor, a county commissioner and several other prominent community leaders, including the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, our chairman.

These were all busy people, but, from the governor on down, they were very interested and involved in staff activities. Staff members having direct financial dealings with members of the IOC without the knowledge of committee members would have been unthinkable. Today's committee members should have equal reason and responsibility to know if their staff were involved with IOC members.

As it turned out, the 2002 bid was successful. Salt Lake City had superior and completed venues, so the infamous payments to IOC members probably were not needed. However, the two staff members now blamed for making the payments have argued they were following the generally aggressive policy the committee expected, and that seems plausible.

That today's SLOC membership, including the governor, would run for cover and leave the former CEO (a convenient scapegoat who was forced to resign for reasons unrelated to the IOC misdeeds) and his second in command to shoulder the entire responsibility for those misdeeds is deplorable.

It can be inferred from statements made by the governor and others that the principal objective in this selfish action was to protect the "saintly" image of the citizens of this community. The sad irony is that most of the players in this unhappy drama are natives of this community (as am I), whereas the only member of the committee who took responsibility and voluntarily resigned was the chairman and subsequent CEO, Frank Joklik, a non-native.

The image of this community, as well as the SLOC, would have been better served had other SLOC leaders, who must have known of the illegal payments, stepped forward honestly and shouldered the responsibility that was theirs.

M. Walker Wallace, Salt Lake City, was a member of the 1966 Salt Lake Organizing Committee.