Olympic Reporters' Secret Club
By Andrew Jennings
Sunday 21 June, 2009
Swiss bagman Jean-Marie Weber who admitted in court last year that he paid $100 million in kickbacks to sports officials in return for lucrative marketing contracts was at it again in Lausanne last week, schmoozing wannabee Olympic 2016 hosts Chicago, Rio, Madrid and Tokyo.
What a great story for Britain’s Olympic reporters. But they haven’t published a word. Why can this be?
Transparency in sport has obtained the membership list of the self-styled Olympic Journalists Association – the OJA. Astonishingly, Bagman Weber is a member - alongside the BBC’s lethargic sports editor Mihir Bose and three of his specialist reporters.
Telegraph sports editor David Bond has also signed up to the OJA with two of his hacks. The Times is there and so are AP’s Steve Wilson and Reuters’ Karolos Grohmann. Between them they dominate international reporting on Olympic politics and money.
Bagman Weber isn’t the only OJA member from the Dark Side of the Olympic business. Step forward tickets and rooms operator Sead Dizdarevic, boss of New Jersey company Jet Set Travel.
Mr Dizdarevic admitted to the Feds that he handed over bags of cash in hotels and airports that were laundered to IOC members demanding bribes in return for giving the 2002 Winter Games to Salt Lake City. That didn’t harm his relationship with the ‘Olympic Movement,’ as they call it. Now he’s got a big chunk of London 2012. Mr Dizdarevic is not known to have worked as a journalist.
Another OJA member and former colleague of Jean-Marie Weber is John Boulter a key member of Lord Coe’s bidding team for London 2012, tasked to win over recalcitrant IOC members.
A French fixer colleague of Boulter and Bagman Weber for several decades - likewise a stranger to journalism - has also been accepted by the OJA hacks. Bell-Pottinger’s sports subsidiary have their man in there as well as consultant Jon Tibbs who boosted the successful Beijing and Sochi bids.
The American interest at the OJA is represented by NBC reporter Alan Abrahamson together with top NBC-TV fixer official Peter Diamond. Also in the OJA is the Atlanta lawyer and lobbyist who was so good at suitcasing thousands of dollars in cash to Florida for a Jamaican IOC member that he’s now welcome everywhere.
What did John Boulter do for Seb Coe? (Private Eye - May 29, 2009)
Trouble for Seb’s pal (Private Eye - June 12, 2009)