He’s the International Olympic Committee (IOC) member who asked about the “harrowing” experience of entering the United States. Some are already seeing him as the Voice of the World, condemning America for its arrogance in trying to protect US borders. But it’s worth remembering that the IOC membership represents, well, the IOC members.
When Uday Hussein ran the Iraqi sports program, he was its top Olympics official. In fact, when presented with evidence that Hussein was torturing Iraqi athletes who disappointed him, the IOC stalled until the U.S. invasion made the point moot. Here’s what Sports Illustrated said about the lackadaisical IOC investigation when a complaint was filed about Uday’s practices:
Attached to the complaint were sworn statements from several Iraqi athletes detailing torture and imprisonment on orders from Uday. In February the IOC agreed to investigate Uday’s behavior. As of last week, however, none of the athletes who had given sworn statements for the INDICT complaint had been contacted by the IOC.
IOC president Jacques Rogge acknowledged last week that his organization received the complaint and says it is in the hands of the ethics committee. But IOC member Richard Pound says that it is “important to remember these are just allegations, and you have to make sure this is not all tied to the Iraq-U.S. dispute, that we are not being used for propaganda. You just never know.”
Sounds right. In the IOC, “you just never know” about this sort of thing. But you always know about the United States. Because in the weird world of IOC politics, the worst thing that has happened in living memory was the impertinent US criminal investigation into bribery of IOC officials in the award of the Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City.
And Syed Shahid Ali certainly seems to be bearing a grudge. The LA Times quoted him back in 1999 as evidence that IOC members were bitter, angry, and unreconciled to the way the US investigation had broken in on their clubby world. In Ali’s view, the whole thing should have been blamed instead on the “Satanic” inducements offered by Salt Lake City and its backers:
Perhaps most important, it remains unclear how many delegates are genuinely committed to real change, or whether an overwhelming majority simply opted Sunday to bow to Samaranch for the moment–for their remarks revealed a group bubbling with members who sound angry, frustrated, even bitter.
Some are still pointing fingers, such as Syed Shahid Ali of Pakistan, who decried the “satanic chores [used] to mislead some of our members.” He explained later that he was referring to the inducements offered in Salt Lake.
So maybe the Obama Administration’s rebuke wasn’t payback for Bush Administration security rules. Maybe it was payback for the Clinton Administration’s criminal investigation. Hold your breath waiting for that theory to show up in print.
Crossed posted on Skating on Stilts.