Frantic bid to salvage London’s faltering 2012 Olympic bid

BRITISH Olympic Association chairman Craig Reedie is frantically trying to salvage London’s faltering 2012 Olympic bid.

Reedie was forced onto the defensive by the unfavourable International Olympic Committee reaction to the BBC Panorama documentary which led to the suspension of Bulgarian representative Ivan Slavkov.

While the IOC are continuing their investigations into the allegations that Slavkov was prepared to accept gifts from undercover reporters posing as London businessmen trying to gain support for the capital’s bid - claims the Bulgarian fiercely denies - Reedie is attempting to limit the damaging impact of the programme on the IOC.

“There is no doubt the programme has victimised London’s bid,” Reedie told the Press Association.

“What I am trying to do is make sure as many of my IOC colleagues understand the situation as possible. I am getting a hearing, which is something. I guess we will only find out how sympathetic it is next summer.”

His efforts have not been helped by confirmation that every member of the IOC committee will have the chance to sit through a special screening of the documentary following the Ethics Committee’s eager acceptance of a request from Spanish representative Juan Antonio Samaranch junior.

Privately, members of the London 2012 bid team are furious with the BBC over the methods used to make the programme, which they feel will lead to problems in trying to communicate with IOC members, who meet in Singapore next summer to award hosting rights for 2012.

Apart from the increased suspicion which London 2012 officials may now face in their attempts to garner crucial votes, there is also considerable ire within IOC circles at a story timed specifically to overshadow the Games’ opening ceremony on Friday.

Reedie is acutely aware of the delicate political game that needs to be played if London are to beat off the challenge of favourites Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow and, following the Salt Lake City cash-for-votes scandal, how sensitive the IOC is to the merest whiff of controversy. So worried was he about the programme that Reedie contacted BBC director general Mark Thompson five weeks ago to express his concerns and now the Scot is busily attempting to minimise the damage. “Few in the IOC can understand that a highly respected and valued broadcast partner which has just made a public contribution to the European Broadcasting Union’s rights package for the 2010 and 2012 Games could, within a few weeks, broadcast a programme which sets out to expose previous faults in the conduct of the rights holders,” Reedie pointed out in his letter to Thompson.

“The programme contains 80% of previously broadcast material and was editorially selective in the extreme.

“I believe the use of hidden cameras is legal, although questionable, in the UK but it is not legal and considered offensive in many countries. You may not be surprised to hear the reaction in the IOC is one of considerable irritation.”

Even London’s supporters have admitted the documentary has badly dented their chances of luring the Games to Britain, although bid communications director Mike Lee was quick to welcome the IOC’s decision to let all delegates see the programme.

“There is clearly some confusion and misinformation in Athens about the content of the Panorama programme which needs to be clarified,” said Lee. “We welcome the decision of the IOC to show this programme to IOC members.”

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