Japanese Olympic officials said Wednesday they have launched an inquiry into possible misconduct by International Olympic Committee members during Nagano’s bid to host the 1998 Winter Games.
But the seven-member inquiry team made up of Japan Olympic Committee members will stop short of actually naming wrongdoers, said Secretary General Yushiro Yagi, who will head the group.
Instead, the team will merely collect records from former Nagano bid committee members and pass these onto IOC headquarters in Switzerland, Yagi said. “We will just tell the IOC what happened. We won’t judge whether it was inappropriate,” Yagi said. He added, however, “We are going to report hard facts to the International Olympic Committee based on what we hear. The report will be drawn up by ourselves, not in cooperation with Nagano officials.”
“We’ll make any judgments with common sense,” JOC panel member Eiichi Kawatei said, adding that explanations and materials provided by the Nagano side that are questionable will be deemed unacceptable.
“We have to prove to the world that Japan is clean for the sake of promoting Osaka’s bid to stage the 2008 Summer Games. So we have to show we are doing decent acts,” Kawatei added.
Yagi dismissed as irrelevant alleged documents that a Japanese press report said Wednesday show the Nagano bid committee spent lavishly to entertain IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and other IOC members.
The inquiry was started in response to a request Monday by Samaranch that the JOC “seek all possible evidence of any form of misconduct of IOC members during the course of previous bids,” according to a copy of the letter given to reporters. Yagi said the inquiry team will visit Nagano Saturday and Sunday and interview former members of the bid committee, which spent 2 billion yen in its successful campaign to host the Winter Games.
Yagi said the JOC knew of specific cases where gifts or entertainment may have exceeded $200, but said the incidents had failed to raise eyebrows at the time.
The Tokyo-based daily Mainichi reported Wednesday that Nagano officials allegedly spent 5 million yen to rent a luxury train with a panoramic observation car to bring Samaranch to Nagano in 1991, according to memos that reveal the contents of a destroyed account book.
The notes, taken by a senior Nagano bid official, duplicate parts of a 90-volume accounting book that Nagano officials claim was ordered burned in 1992 because it took up too much office space, the Mainichi said.
Nagano officials said they were unable to confirm that such memos exist.
The memos detail the Nagano bid committee’s 1991 expenditures, and show it spent about 740 million yen that year for activities that included wining and dining IOC members, the paper said.
The JOC hastily created the investigative team following the IOC’s decision last month, when the Salt Lake City bribery scandal broke, to make inquiries into Nagano and four other cities that hosted recent Olympics about their bidding activities.