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article imageIOC member says Sochi Olympics marred by rampant corruption

By Karen Graham     Jan 11, 2014 in Sports
Preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia have been overshadowed of late by a marked increase in terror threats. There have also been complaints and accusations of under-the-table payoffs and blatant corruption by government officials.
Gian-Franco Kasper, a Swiss member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told news media on Friday that he had to admit to something the Russian people have known for a long time; the Sochi Winter Olympic Games have been a quagmire of corruption, with as much as one-third of the $55 billion cost of the games being siphoned off in bribes and kickbacks.
Kasper said approximately $18 billion has gone to line the pockets of officials and contractors who have access to the funds. Russian opposition leaders, Boris Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk have given an even higher estimate of the amount in a report published last Spring.
Mr. Nemtsov, the former Russian deputy prime minister, says this is a big step forward in getting the IOC involved in the corruption issue. Nemtsov went on to say, "Until now there's been no clear acknowledgement of the issue, even though the facts are widely available. The attitude is that 'all is well' and if there's any corruption it's a problem for the host country and not the IOC."
Nemtsov also cited a study comparing Olympic construction costs in Russia to the same costs in other parts of the world, and he found them to be three times higher in Russia. He also pointed out the Olympic Charter stresses that the Olympics sets an example for the rest of the world and everything about them should be held to the highest standards and with the utmost transparency by those involved.
"They are obliged to pay attention to this. Though there has been considerable attention to the issue of gay rights in advance of the Olympics, and the IOC has taken a stand on this, they have largely ignored corruption, environmental destruction, and other types of human rights violations that have been occurring," Nemtsov says.
Kasper has also accused President Vladimir Putin of "staging publicity stunts," by releasing high profile political prisoners, like Pussy riot and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, saying this was nothing more than an attempt to bolster Russia's image in the eyes of the world.
Kasper also had something to say about the security for the Winter Games in Sochi. Commenting on the recent terrorist attacks and the need to bring in "tens of thousands of troops and police officers," Kasper said it appeared the region was "not in a great mood."
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