Diligence for Olympic Reform


The International Olympic Committee has adopted stiff reforms to prevent the sort of corruption that tarnished the selection of Salt Lake City as site of the 2002 Winter Games. But the IOC and related sports agencies must be diligent to assure that the reforms work.

The changes include age and term limits for service on the 115-member committee and greater accountability in the IOC’s management of the Olympic movement. Most significant is a rule that bars committee members from visiting prospective sites.

The abuses that came to light included efforts by Salt Lake officials to win votes with costly gifts and phony jobs for committee members’ relatives.


The rules were adopted with little formal opposition in Switzerland last weekend at the strong urging of IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain. But comments from some committee members, as reported by The Times’ Alan Abrahamson, indicate that the action was as much a matter of public posturing as real commitment. Britain’s Princess Anne, an IOC member, said the reforms came in response to media criticism, adding, “If you think it’s going to work, huh, fine.” That attitude is disturbing.

Samaranch and his aides must ensure that the reforms are effective or the IOC will never be able to restore its credibility. To that end, he needs to spell out to a congressional subcommittee in a Wednesday hearing precisely what the IOC intends to do to clean up its failures and prevent any others before the Salt Lake City Winter Games. He should also begin grooming a successor, someone committed to an Olympic movement free from the influence of big money and committee members’ self-indulgences.