Editorial 

A close one

The Vancouver Bid for the 2010 Games came through and covered the spread, much to the relief of Vegas bookies who put us in the lead with only days to go until the IOC’s decision. It was a close one, coming down to three votes in the second round, and after losing the first round to South Korea.

No doubt the IOC members that were backing Austria, and that care about such trifles as snow, downhill courses, and maintaining a buffer between themselves and dictators armed with nuclear weapons, threw their weight behind Vancouver once Salzburg was eliminated in the first round.

While the vote went our way, it didn’t do a whole lot for the IOC’s battered reputation.

Allegations of vote fixing are already coming to the surface. There are suggestions that a Korean blitz of IOC delegate countries, aided by Samsung, influenced the outcome of the vote.

Countries that don’t even participate in the Winter Games still get to vote for some reason, and who knows what they’re looking for in a bid. For example, South Korea does not have a suitable slope for the downhill, which is considered the crown jewel of the Winter Games, and yet the Games nearly went their way.

A significant number of IOC members really don’t have their minds made up until the countries make their final presentations, which means that little things, like Samsung banners hung all over Prague, can have a big impact on decision day.

That’s not to suggest that this is another Salt Lake scandal in the making, but let’s face facts – there was a lot more at play than merely who has the best Bid.

Some commentators believe that IOC members are still playing the Mother Theresa card, bequeathing the Olympics to the country where they feel it will do the most good. No doubt some of them were hoping for a reconciliation between North and South Korea, full of the Olympic spirit and themselves.

Memo to those IOC idealists – give it up. Giving Beijing the Summer Games, simply because China has never hosted them before, did not turn the snake into a panda. China continues to crack down on Tibetans, Falun Gong worshippers, and free speech. Only last week the people of Hong Kong were protesting a government plan would allow China to crack down on dissidents in Hong Kong, a list that includes newspaper editors, entertainers, Falun Gong worshippers, and just about everyone who grew up free before Great Britain’s lease was up.

The solution for IOC shenanigans is simple: Do away with the secret ballot. Let every IOC member stand up to cast their vote, and be prepared to defend their decision. This would eliminate vote trading, voting blocks, and sniff out any kind of impropriety.

The Games are all about openness, sportsmanship and fair play. So why isn’t the IOC?

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