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Inside the International Olympic Commitee

The Story

Even after a century of modern Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee is still very much a mystery. With ranks that include princes, dukes, sheiks and rajahs as life members, the IOC has been called by one reporter, "the most autocratic, aristocratic organization in the world." As we hear in this Sunday Morning investigation, choosing a host city is a whirlwind of enticements, false promises and hype. Yet the process remains as inscrutable as that of choosing a pope.

Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning
Broadcast Date: Sept. 16, 1990
Guest(s): Jean Bonnin de la Bonniniere, Paul F. Henderson, Bert Roughton
Host: Mary Lou Finlay
Reporter: Mark Lee
Duration: 5:44

Did You know?

. The International Olympic Committee supervises the organization of the Games. It was established on June 23, 1894, by modern Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin.

. The IOC elects members put forward by its nomination commission. They include active athletes, presidents of international sports federations and national Olympic committees, and individual members.

. IOC members act as IOC representatives in their respective countries (not as delegates of their countries) and meet once a year.

. IOC members serve eight-year terms that are renewable until they turn 70 (or 80, if they were elected before Dec. 11, 1999). As of June 2004 there were 124 members, plus 20 honourary members, four "honour members" (including Henry Kissinger) and an "honourary president for life," Juan Antonio Samaranch. Almost half are from Europe.

• In 2004 Canada had three IOC members:

- Dick Pound, a lawyer and chartered accountant who was a double finalist in swimming at the 1960 Olympics in Rome and won four medals at the 1962 Commonwealth Games. One of the most powerful men in sports, Pound is a former vice president of the IOC. He became president of the World Anti-Doping Agency in 1999. In 2001 he ran for president of the IOC, losing to Jacques Rogge.

- Charmaine Crooks, a journalist and runner who won gold in the Commonwealth Games and competed in four Olympic Games: Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta (where she was Canada's flag-bearer).

- Paul Henderson, a mechanical engineer and world champion sailor who competed in the 1964 and 1968 Olympics.

• Lawyer and former hurdler James Worrall is one of the honourary members.

• Members of the IOC in 2004 included:
- Princess Nora of Liechtenstein
- Prince Albert of Monaco
- Princess Anne (the Princess Royal) of England
- Her Royal Highness the Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbon of Spain
- Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg
- Prince Willem-Alexander (the Prince of Orange) of the Netherlands

. In December 1999 the IOC introduced a two-phase process for selecting a host city. During phase one, all cities put forward by the national Olympic committee of each country are considered "applicant cities." They answer a questionnaire that gives the IOC an overview of their bid. Then an IOC working group assesses technical criteria, "including government support, public opinion, general infrastructure, security, venues, accommodation and transport." Phase one lasts ten months.

. In phase two, the executive board accepts the best entries as "candidate cities." These cities submit a "candidature file." An IOC evaluation commission examines these files and visits each city, then issues a report with a list of cities for voting. The voting takes place seven years before the Games are to be held.

. Host city voting goes round by round, like a political leadership convention. In each round, the city receiving the lowest number of votes is eliminated until one city receives a majority of votes.

. The voting itself takes place in secret - only IOC members are allowed to be present. IOC members from bidding countries may not vote.


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