Olympic 'spying' not so uncommon

Madrid operative not alone in scouting competition
May 6, 2009 3:31:13 PM PDT
As the IOC team arrives Spain, Madrid 2016 is accused of sending a spy to Rio. But someone was checking out Chicago, too. The International Olympic Committee is visiting Madrid, the fourth and final city competing to host the 2016 summer games.

IOC members have been on the road for more than a month and traveled more than 2,600 miles. Along the way, the IOC evaluation team has braved a bitter wind in Chicago, toured Tokyo's terrain and danced the samba in Rio. Now they're in Spain, where Madrid's Olympic backers are accused of sending a spy to Rio to scout the competition. But, as ABC7 learned, they're not the only one.

Madrid has done this before-- Rolling out the red carpet, showcasing key venues and promoting plans for hosting the world. Four years ago, the International Olympic Committee chose London instead.

"We have 92-percent support. They are really passionate to have the Games come to Spain," said Mercedes Coghen, Madrids 2016 CEO on March 25.

In March, Madrid's bid leader said the loss in 2005 did not diminish Spaniards enthusiasm for hosting the Games. On Wednesday, she squired an IOC inspection team on a 12-hour tour of the city-- including the proposed Olympic Stadium which was built 15 years ago.

Madrid's main selling point is that 77-percent of its venues are already complete. Mass transit is so efficient bid leaders say no additional work is needed. Plus, like the other cities competing with Chicago, Spain's federal government stands ready to bankroll the entire thing.

"For us it's a reality. It's not something you have to think a lot about. We don't have to invest a lot to finish our proposal for 2016," said Coghen.

"It's a great sports town, fantastic facilities. But I think the overwhelming feeling is why would we want to come to Europe again four years after London?" said Duncan MacKay.

The IOC visit to the Spanish city got off to a rough start after one of Madrid's paid consultants was caught posing as a journalist during the evaluation commission visit to Rio last week. Now Rio has filed a written complaint with the IOC.

But spying on the competition isn't uncommon. When the IOC was in Chicago last month, former Olympic writer Morley Myers came to town on a journalist credential. Myers admitted to ABC 7 he is a paid consultant to Tokyo's Olympic bid.

A spokesman for Chicago's bid said, "Given our commitment to publicize our event to as many influential people as possible... we would have granted him a credential no matter who he was working for."

A spokesman for Tokyo's Olympic bid did not reply to a question about why one of their consultants was in Chicago during the IOC visit. But the unwritten rules of Olympic espionage are a lot like spying for a government: everyone knows it happens to varying degrees. No one talks about it. .


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