July 29, 2008

The IOC is a joke, cont.

By: Sonny Bunch

Over at the Wall Street Journal, Michael Sussan points out the absurdity of the IOC banning Iraq from the Olympic games:

While the Iraqi government should clearly have refrained from plugging political allies to lead their Olympic team, its behavior pales in comparison to scandals that have plagued the IOC itself over the years. Juan Antonio Samaranch — who served under Franco’s dictatorship in Spain before being appointed to head the IOC from 1980 to 2001 — was widely accused of turning a blind eye to rampant corrupt practices. He was cleared of wrongdoing by an internal probe (though no independent inquiry was ever allowed); but the fact that so many of his staff were shown to have accepted bribes reflects poorly on his leadership.

In 2004, IOC Vice President Kim Un-Yong was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail on corruption charges. He was found guilty by a South Korean court of embezzling more than $3 million from sports organizations he controlled and accepting $700,000 in bribes. The IOC itself includes dozens of members related to, or having worked for, corrupt dictators, and who had little if any experience in the realm of sports to begin with. And past investigations uncovered how, with every round of bids to host the next Olympic Games, large sums of money have flowed, illegally, to committee members.

So an organization renowned for its corruption is banning a country for dispensing spots on its Olympic governing panel on the basis of political favoritism. Nothing like a little hypocrisy to go along with fun and games.

(h/t: James Kirchick)