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September 3, 2013
The IOC train rolls into Buenos Aires

by Gianni Merlo, AIPS President, La Gazzetta dello Sport

BUENOS AIRES, September 4, 2013 - The Hilton hotel , the IOC headquarters in Buenos Aires seems to be in a state of siege. Police have blocked the surrounding streets . We move in an almost surreal situation. Sport should unite, but here there are only prohibitions ... And it is more difficult to talk with a member of the IOC than with Maradona. We arrived at the point of no return for these that are, it the end, the Olympics of bla bla...

The press center set up 250 meters from the Hilton is great. There are almost 1,800 accredited journalists! A huge amount. This includes only 600 Japanese!

25 years ago - At the end of the 1980’s there were no more than a media pack of 20 journalists following the IOC Sessions and the votes for the Olympic city. The gossip in the hotel bar in the evenings focussed on the nocturnal activities and appointments of some of the IOC members who went to sophisticated suites where they could find a “special paradise”.
Another rumor focused on members being given one of a set of gold cufflinks, with the other to be delivered after the vote.........

Those were the so-called golden years of the “Gravy Train”. Sometimes during the official dinner there was usually a member, a high ranking official telling deliciously funny jokes. A few years later he was kicked out of the IOC because, like others , he thought it was his right to be paid by the candidate cities for the time spent evaluating their technical proposals ...

Nowadays everything has changed. Then a candidature cost a few million dollars. Now we're getting closer to 80 million. The decision to ban IOC members from visiting candidate cities for fear of them falling into temptation has actually pushed the costs up. Consultancy firms are raking in the money.

In the past it was rare for top politicians to attend the Sessions. Once in the early days the Argentinian President Menem with his jet black bouffance but Buenos Aires has received only a few votes . These days, however, prime ministers and presidents are expected to show up but their presence only increases the pressures on security therefore leaving the “relaxed environment” of sport alive with frazzled nerves.

There are a lot of irons in the fire here in Buenos Aires: September 7 the choice of the 2020 Olympic city, September 8 the sport to be included in the Olympic programme and then, as the grand finale on September 10 ,the election of the new president of the IOC .

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