Unos fragmentos de The New York Times In the late 1990s, the Olympic committee came under heavy criticism as an elitist, secretive and corrupt organization after more than $1 million in cash, scholarships, gifts and favors was paid to I.O.C. members and their families by officials bidding for the right to hold the games in their cities. One third of the members were linked to improprieties in the bidding process for Olympics in Salt Lake City, Atlanta and Sydney.
As a former sports official in Spain’s fascist Franco regime, Mr. Samaranch had come to tolerate a degree of corruption. He tended to co-opt his enemies and ignore the spotted reputations of some members he brought into the I.O.C. As a result, an organization claiming a high moral purpose in the name of sport ended up with a number of unsavory characters as delegates, which became embarrassingly clear in the Salt Lake City episode. Among those allowed into the I.O.C. were Francis Nyangweso, a former defense chief for the murderous Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and Mohammad (Bob) Hassan, a crony to former Indonesian leader Suharto; Mr. Hassan missed Mr. Samaranch’s retirement in Moscow because he was imprisoned on corruption charges involving the ravaging of his country’s rain forests. Of the 10 members who were forced out or who resigned during the Salt Lake City episode, the most rapacious was Jean-Claude Ganga of the Congo Republic, an anti-apartheid activist who led the African boycott of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He was made an I.O.C. member in 1986, only to be removed in 1999 for accepting more than $200,000 in cash, medical care, doorknobs and hip-replacement surgery for his mother-in-law from Utah bid officials. Such was the extent of the scandal that, in the eyes of many, the I.O.C. could not truly be seen to have reformed itself until Mr. Samaranch stepped down. “It’s a little like the story of the baboon climbing a pole,” Dick Pound, an influential I.O.C. delegate from Montreal, said of Mr. Samaranch. “The higher the baboon climbs, the more undesirable are the parts exposed.” From Peter Ueberroth, who organized the 1984 Summer Olympics to a profit of $250 million, Mr. Samaranch began to understand the full commercial possibilities of the Olympics. From an organization that had $200,000 in cash reserves when he became president, the I.O.C. became a multibillion-dollar enterprise. At the same time, the Games came under criticism as being crassly over-commercialized, particularly at the 1996 Summer Olympics, during which downtown Atlanta came to resemble a flea market. “I am not ashamed of what I did in Spain,” Mr. Samaranch said in a 1999 interview with The New York Times. “Franco did good things for my country. He kept us out of World War II. He created a middle class. He chose a good successor, the king.”