Members of the House Commerce Committee investigating Atlanta's bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics said "a number of concerns" were raised Wednesday when bidders released documents showing that lavish gifts, favors and payments were made while attempting to secure the Games.
Atlanta officials have denied making any cash payments or giving scholarships to members of the International Olympic Committee and their relatives in an effort to sway votes, as officials in Salt Lake City did in winning the 2002 Winter Games.However, preliminary documents made available showed undeniably that the gift-giving culture did not begin in Salt Lake City, that a number of IOC members had their hands out and that Atlanta bidders were eager to grant their wishes. Many of those receiving favors were the same IOC members who have been disciplined for their abuses in the Salt Lake bidding process.
Atlanta officials donated $25,000 to the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee as that country sought to re-enter the Olympic movement after three decades and gave 38 gifts that exceeded the IOC's limit of $200, including a $948 carburetor kit to Bashir Mohamed Attarabulsi of Libya, who resigned in the Salt Lake scandal. A Tiffany jewelry box worth $616.25 went to Un Yong Kim, a powerful IOC member from South Korea who was censured for attempting to secure jobs for his children in the Salt Lake City episode.
Even Marc Hodler, the IOC member from Switzerland who blew the whistle on the Salt Lake City scandal and was in charge of overseeing bidding procedures, violated the Olympic committee's rules by accepting from Atlanta officials a Steuben crystal skier worth $457.24.
The expelled IOC member who most abused his role in the Salt Lake City case, Jean-Claude Ganga of the Congo Republic, also figured prominently in Atlanta's gift-giving efforts. Among the things that raised the eyebrows of Commerce Committee investigators was $14,099.40 paid to the Nick Bollettieri training camp in Florida for the training of two teenage tennis players from Congo Republic in July of 1990, two months before Atlanta won the 1996 Games.