Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sour Grapes Alert

AP - Paris Mayor Says Blair, Coe 'Crossed Line'

Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe says British prime minister Tony Blair and London bid leader Sebastian Coe "crossed the line" by criticizing other cities that were vying for the 2012 Olympics.

However, French International Olympic Committee member Jean-Claude Killy said the Paris bid was weakened from the inside and he was "sickened" by the complaints.

Last week, London was awarded the 2012 Games over Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow.

"They crossed the yellow line with respect to the IOC rules," Delanoe told France-Info radio Monday after a meeting of the Paris city council.

Delanoe did not offer specific accusations, though two consultants for the British bid were critical of the sightlines at the Stade de France, considered a centerpiece of Paris' bid. Under IOC rules, the bid cities are prohibited from criticizing each other.

However, after reviewing the remarks, Paris officials decided not to complain to the IOC ethics commission. The IOC said it wouldn't pursue the matter.

On Saturday, IOC president Jacques Rogge said none of the cities broke rules designed to stamp out corruption in the bidding process.

Paris bidders were reportedly angry that Blair had met with IOC members in his hotel room in Singapore.

"There's nothing wrong with having a conversation with a major politician from a bid city," Rogge said.

Killy pointed to the last-minute loss of Foreign Minister Michel Barnier - who long worked with the Olympics but was replaced following a government change in June.

And he made a veiled suggestion that remarks in 2003 by President Jacques Chirac, who criticized eastern European nations over their support of the United States in its war in Iraq, cost Paris the votes of members from those countries.

Killy, a World Cup, world and Olympic ski champion, said Paris shouldn't "look for pitiful excuses."

"Imagine trying to obtain today the votes of the east. It's really not easy," he said in an implicit reference to Chirac's criticism of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for supporting Washington in 2003 ahead of the invasion of Iraq.

Chirac said it was "not very responsible" or "well bred" of them to do so, adding that "I think they missed a good chance to shut up."

He said that Barnier was "one of the best known and most respected French with the IOC" and added that France has no "international sports presence."

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