Ex-China sports official tells of Olympic deals

Chinese sports officials struck a deal to bring the Olympics to Beijing, promising to support Jacques Rogge’s bid to head the International Olympic Committee in return for European backing for Beijing’s bid, according to a recently released memoir.

The IOC denied the accusation.

“Jacques Rogge was elected IOC president by a large majority,” the committee said in a statement from Lausanne, Switzerland. “As a candidate, he built his campaign on a strong program that was widely welcome by IOC members. Any insinuation that deals would have been made is absolutely false.”

In his book, retired sports minister and president of the Chinese Olympic Committee, Yuan Weimin, describes the alleged arrangements surrounding Beijing’s Olympic bid in 2001: European members of the IOC verbally agreed to support Beijing for the 2008 Games in exchange for Chinese support for Rogge.

“The Beijing Olympic bid committee decided on a tactic of strategic alliance-making. We would link Chinese support for Rogge in exchange for European committee members’ support for Beijing,” Yuan said in his memoir published this month. “Of course, we also made some promises to link up with some of our friends in supporting Rogge. This tactic was our overall strategy.”

Yuan said in his book “Yuan Weimin and the Sports World” that although there was no written agreement from either party, multiple meetings yielded a mutual understanding of support if Rogge won the election.

Beijing went on to win the 2001 vote in Moscow, defeating Toronto, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka after two rounds of voting. Beijing received 56 votes in the second round, followed by Toronto with 22.

Rogge, a Belgian who had headed the European Olympic Committees, was elected IOC president at the same meeting in Moscow. He defeated four other candidates and received a winning majority of 59 votes in the second round, more than double the votes of Kim Un-yong of South Korea (23) and Dick Pound of Canada (22).

Rogge was re-elected to a final four-year term earlier this month.

Yuan’s book offers a small glimpse into the fevered politicking that surrounded the Moscow meeting in 2001.

A former Olympic sailor and orthopedic surgeon, Rogge was vying to take over an IOC trying to recover from corruption scandals surrounding previous Olympic bidding. Beijing, meanwhile, was trying to become the first Chinese host for the games in a quest that had become a matter of national pride.

Yuan’s book, ghost-written by Yuan Shan, said not all in the Chinese delegation went along with the alleged dealing. The book said a senior Chinese IOC official who was not identified voted against Rogge and instead backed Kim. The unnamed official is believed to be He Zhenliang, an IOC member since 1981 who is serving his final year in the 112-member committee.

“A senior Chinese member in the IOC purposely defied our strategies and nominated IOC member Kim Un-yong, causing awkwardness for the Beijing Olympic Committee,” Yuan in his memoir.