Andrew Jennings to speak on Olympics 

British author of The Great IOC Swindle coming to Whistler Dec. 8

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Journalist Andrew Jennings, who has spent a lifetime shining the light on institutionalized corruption, including inside the International Olympic Committee, will be speaking in Whistler next week.

He has worked for CBS's 60 Minutes, Sunday Times Insight, the legendary investigation program World In Action, BBC Panorama and a host of other UK and foreign networks and publications.

He has published five books, translated into 15 languages, ranging from corruption at Scotland Yard to racketeering at the IOC and FIFA. Jennings has reported from Beirut, Palermo, Nicaragua, Chechnya and other places long bombed and forgotten.

Banned for six years by the IOC in the 1990s, Jennings ( http://www.transparencyinsport.org ) is currently the only reporter in the world banned by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, for revealing in 2003 the football association president's secret bonuses.

He lectures at universities from Toronto to Buenos Aires to Otago (NZ) about corruption, how to obtain confidential documents and report on their contents.

While in Whistler he will offer a unique insight into the Olympic Games, from its origins with founder Pierre de Coubertin, through the adoption of the Nazi-created torch relay to how the organization continues, he said, to be driven by big business and the bribery that comes with that.

Asked if the IOC is any different now than it was when he published his expose of the organization in 2000 titled The Great IOC Swindle, he replied: "I don't think so.

"It is fair to say that they expelled some of their corrupt people, but I do not believe that they have got rid of all of them."

The biggest corruption scandal to be faced by the Olympics happened just a few years ago, prior to the Salt Lake Winter Games in 2002.

Jennings, while saying he does not think Vancouver's bid was corrupt, believes both Sochi's 2014 Winter Games and Rio's recent win for the 2016 Summer Games are suspect.

"I'm not saying Vancouver paid, but I think there is little doubt that Sochi paid and it is very likely that Rio paid," he said from his U.K. home.

The IOC's only accountability, said Jennings, is to the sponsors.

"In return for their money they expect accountability," he said.

"What (the IOC has) always been is anti-democratic and self-selecting. They still self-select and they have no accountability..."

"At the end of the day (IOC president Jacques) Rogge is (past IOC president Juan Antonio) Samaranch without the fascism and with nicer teeth and hair.

"They are collegial. They get the wagons, then they pull them into a circle and we can all take a walk because they own the best sports franchise in the whole world."

Jennings does not expect the cycle of the Games to be any different for 2010 than it has been for others.

"The boosters lie to us, the taxpayers take the hit, the promoters make the money," he said.

Jennings also has much to say on how doping has changed the Games. In an interesting announcement this week GlaxoSmithKline said it will operate the anti-doping testing lab for the 2012 London Summer Games, paying £10 million for the right. It is the first time a drug company has paid to run the anti-doping operation at the Games.

Jennings is being brought to B.C. by Green College of UBC as part of a speaker series titled, The Olympic Games in Myth and Reality . He will speak at the College on Dec. 7 starting at 5:30 p.m. and then he will make his way to Whistler to speak Dec. 8.  His lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in the Summit Lodge Conference Room.

The lecture will also see a preview of a new YouTube video produced by "Oly and the Fat Cats" titled Gimmie Gold.

With his tongue firmly in his cheek the manager of the band, Big Daddy VeeCee (a.k.a. Whistler resident Van Powel), said he hoped the video would entertain and educate.

"We saw it as an opportunity to enlighten people and entertain them at the same time and see that some good was done," he said.

"It is important for people to see that there are motivating factors behind large projects like this that aren't always as obvious as we might want them to be. There are people who will benefit greatly from the Olympics being here and there are others that won't.

"I think when we spend billions of dollars on projects such as this it means those billions can't be spent somewhere else. So if we can throw million dollar parties for the fat cats coming into town but not fund women's centres I think that is a problem, and I think Oly is upset about that."

To view the video, which is being sold on the web with the proceeds going to women's shelters, go to www.iocsong.com.

 

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