An excerpt of a Sunday Los Angeles Times editorial:
NOW that the U.S. Justice Department has joined the hunt, the awarding of the 2002 Winter Games to Salt Lake City is likely to be the most investigated action in modern Olympic history. The FBI will link with the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and the International Olympic Committee in probing allegations that Salt Lake City officials sought support by giving gifts, including $400,000 in scholarships and health care, to a handful of IOC members or their relatives.
The problem here is that -- barring more revelations -- Salt Lake City is the victim, not the villain. What needs to be investigated is the IOC itself, which for years has tolerated if not encouraged cities seeking the games to heap largess upon IOC members. Salt Lake officials have been forthcoming and candid about the gifts since the disclosures in mid-December. And because the IOC is a private body, it's not clear that the gifts, reportedly paid for from a private fund, would constitute bribes. Still, the FBI will look into the possibility of wire and tax fraud.
The 2002 Winter Games properly will remain in Utah. Salt Lake City won on merit. A quick resolution of the investigations is needed to remove the taint of scandal from the powdery snows of Utah.
Pub Date: 1/05/99