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IOC rips into SLOC
Utah group on hot seat in Seoul for 1 1/2 hours

SEOUL, South Korea -- Anti-American or just anti-Salt Lake City?

What was clear was the International Olympic Committee's resentment of the effects of the bribery scandal surrounding Salt Lake City's bid for the 2002 Winter Games.Salt Lake Organizing Committee officials spent 1 1/2 hours in front of the IOC Thursday, enduring attacks on everything from the size of the Games' budget to the FBI's criminal investigation.

"Wasn't that a killer?" SLOC President Mitt Romney said to a reporter after the organizing committee's appearance, the first before the full membership since the scandal broke late last year.

It was also the first time a meeting of the IOC was broadcast on closed-circuit television to a room full of journalists, one of the reforms instituted as a result of the scandal.

IOC members used the opportunity to make their feelings known:

MARIO VAZQUEZ RANA of Mexico said, "I can assure you that the problems inherent to corruption was born from people in Salt Lake City," Rana is also the president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.

SLOC, he said, has a lot to make up for. "We will always have been besmirched. I am sorry to say this is something that comes from that wonderful country, the United States of America."

IOC PRESIDENT JUAN ANTONIO SAMARANCH raised concerns over involving the IOC in the criminal investigation being conducted by the FBI into what Salt Lake bidders did to win IOC votes.

"There's some problems regarding members of the IOC and we know very well it is not your responsibility," Samaranch told the SLOC officials. "But you have to know for members of the IOC to go to your country will not be easy."

Four IOC members who were in Salt Lake City last month were questioned by the FBI, according to IOC Director General Francois Carrard. One may face further questioning.

The four reportedly include Marc Hodler of Switzerland, the senior IOC member who fueled the scandal by labeling what Salt Lake City did as bribery; Jean-Claude Killy of France; and Nils-Holst Sorensen of Denmark.

The IOC Executive Board is scheduled to meet in Salt Lake City and Colorado Springs, the headquarters of the USOC, next year. Samaranch said he hoped the investigation would be resolved by then.

TAY WILSON of New Zealand suggested the budget crisis facing SLOC as a result of the scandal is the U.S. Olympic Committee's problem -- not the IOC's. "We don't seem to have any advice or knowledge from the host Olympic committee (which) seems to be taking a lot of the cream off the top of the cake and making it even more difficult," Wilson said.

"One could well understand in perhaps a poorer country, rather than the richest country in the world, they're not putting the hand up and saying to us, 'We'll certainly see this is solved.' "

ALEX GILADY of Israel questioned the size of the budget for the 2002 Winter Games. Gilady, a top executive of NBC, said the budget was just $798 million when Salt Lake City was bidding for the Games.

Organizers are looking for help with their budget, now at $1.45 billion. Gilady said that might set a bad precedent. Other Olympic host cities may want "to redecorate their budgets," too, he said.

SINAN ERDEM of Turkey complained about the financial concessions SLOC is seeking from the IOC to help offset a $300 million shortfall. Romney asked for reductions in the services that SLOC must provide IOC members. The details of the reductions have yet to be worked out.

"I know SLOC today is in reorganization, and (there are) new faces. But we voted following a bid book. . . . I hope in the future they will respect all the proposals they made," Erdem said.

Not that he was personally concerned. "In all the Olympic Games, I have never had a limousine. A jeep was enough for me if the driver knows how to drive and where to go."

Romney told the 90-plus IOC members at the meeting that the people of Salt Lake City "did not take those inappropriate actions. A few people did and we think it is appropriate that those people should be held accountable."

He also outlined some of SLOC's budget concerns as well as a problem the organizing committee is having with securing the 21,000 hotel rooms needed for Games-goers. Only 17,300 are under contract.

Romney made the presentation with SLOC Chairman Bob Garff and SLOC sports director Cathy Priestner Allinger. The trio was scheduled to leave South Korea early Friday.

It wasn't just Salt Lake City that suffered the IOC's wrath Thursday.

The head of the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, Michael Knight, thanked the IOC for being willing to "share of the pain." Sydney is going even further than Salt Lake City in slashing services to the IOC.

Knight's message, however, did not go over well with some IOC members. Denis Oswald of Switzerland scolded Knight for taking "the role of a school teacher, to give lessons to the IOC . . . I think that tone was out of place."

And Thomas Bach of Germany, a member of the elite IOC Executive Board, said Sydney should make it clear that some of the items being cut from the budget weren't requested by the IOC.

"The IOC never asked for flowers or specific catering or whatever. You just changed your initial plans," Bach said, adding there should be a "common line" in communicating that to the public.

Knight said later the IOC's willingness to go along with the reductions "reflects the understanding out there in the real world they need to be seen as cutting back on their entitlements."

The Australians have eliminated the so-called guest program that typically provides shopping trips and scenic tours for the wives of IOC members during the Games.

SLOC has budgeted more than $22,000 for a similar program for spouses and children of IOC members during the Games. Romney has said a decision has not yet been made on whether the program will be cut.

Salt Lake has eliminated a ceremony planned to open the IOC session that immediately precedes the 2002 Winter Games. Sydney organizers had done the same but said Thursday the Australian Olympic Committee may stage a modified version of the event.