Olympic Hosting Is No Longer a Contact Sport

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Operating under the theory that your palms can't be greased if you don't hang out with the greasers, International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch on Sunday easily pushed through the hardest part of his recent batch of reform proposals: keeping IOC members from making financially tempting visits to cities looking to host the games. Many reluctant members grumbled that such a ban implied they couldn't be trusted, although one might think that the haul that several of their former colleagues extorted out of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee — which included silver, scholarships for their kids, guns, cowboy hats, skis and, reportedly, even call girls — would have done a good job of that already. In the end, Samaranch prevailed: Although the move had been opposed by nearly half of the IOC's 93 voting delegates, on Sunday all but two voted for the measure.

Will this, as well as other measures, such as lowering the maximum age for delegates and limiting the time a president can serve, be enough to restore the IOC's reputation? Maybe. The pressure to reform is considerable: Major corporations, such as Coke and IBM, which send the IOC $50 million checks so that they can use the Olympic rings in their ads, are not amused with the committee's image as a bunch of shameless shakedown artists. But Samaranch doesn't inspire much confidence when he still largely blames the mess on the competing cities for putting out all those tempting bribes.