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Swiss bitter after IOC picks Italy for Games

SEOUL, South Korea -- Salt Lake City may be looking pretty good to the International Olympic Committee after all, especially when compared with its Swiss headquarters.

Some IOC officials were wondering if they'd be welcome back home after the decision Saturday to award the 2006 Winter Games to Turin, Italy, instead of Sion, Switzerland.The IOC ended a week of meetings in Seoul on Sunday. The selection of the first city to host an Olympics since the Salt Lake vote-buying scandal broke late last year was at the top of the agenda.

IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch confirmed Sunday that plans to hold meetings in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Salt Lake City next February won't be canceled, despite an ongoing federal probe into the Salt Lake bid.

The IOC Executive Board, which is headed by Samaranch, is scheduled to meet in Colorado Springs Feb. 21-23 next year. Colorado Springs is the headquarters of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The 11-member board and its staff will then head to Salt Lake City on Feb. 25 to meet with the international federations that oversee winter sports.

There had been some question whether IOC members would be willing to travel to the United States if the FBI was still investigating the $1 million-plus spent by Salt Lake bidders to influence the votes of IOC members.

Ten IOC members have been forced out for accepting cash, gifts, scholarships for their children, trips and other inducements to support Salt Lake's bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

But Samaranch said the meetings will go as planned, and the IOC would cooperate with the criminal investigation. "We will respect the FBI and we respect the Justice (Department) in the United States," he said.

Samaranch said he was not afraid of talking to the FBI. At least four members already have answered questions. "If I am interviewed, I will be interviewed. It is no problem for me," he said.

IOC members were given specific instructions Sunday about what to do if they are contacted by the FBI. They were told they could refuse to be interviewed, but then face being ordered to appear before a grand jury.

They also were advised they had a right to have a lawyer present during questioning. The IOC has a law firm in the United States that will provide counsel.

Not all IOC members are avoiding travel to the United States. Jean-Claude Killy of France said he intends to return to Salt Lake City this fall to check on the progress of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

Killy, who headed the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, is the deputy chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission that's overseeing the 2002 Winter Games.

He reportedly was interviewed by the FBI when the coordination commission met in Salt Lake City last month.

The IOC's most immediate concern is in Switzerland. What was supposed to be a celebration in Sion turned ugly this weekend when vandals defaced some of the sculptures outside the IOC's Olympic Museum in nearby Lausanne.

Even the national government of Switzerland chimed in, issuing a statement expressing its disappointment and calling for "an in-depth analysis at all political levels of the reason for the failure."

The largely Swiss staff of the IOC was disappointed, too. "As a Swiss, I am sad for Switzerland," said IOC Director General Francois Carrard. "I find the reaction excessive . . . but I understand it."

Sion had been the front-runner among the six cities bidding, at least until the Salt Lake scandal. The small Swiss city had bid unsuccessfully twice before, including against Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Games.

The wide margin of victory for Turin is seen as a rebuke to Swiss IOC member Marc Hodler for focusing worldwide attention on the scandal by calling Salt Lake's gifts bribes to IOC members during the 2002 bid.