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  • On the Scene at SportAccord - Rogge Encourages Doha; Mum on Saudis


    (ATR) IOC president Jacques Rogge tells cities like Doha to try, try again.
    IOC communications director Mark Adams and president Jacques Rogge take questions late Thursday. (ATR)

    Qatar's capital exited early from a second straight Summer Olympics race Wednesday, failing to make the IOC Executive Board's shortlist of bidders moving on to the 2020 candidature phase.

    In a Thursday press conference on the sidelines of SportAccord, the IOC president roundly dismissed reports of influence by NBC and other broadcasters in Doha's demise.

    “There is absolutely no issue with broadcasters,” Rogge told the roomful of reporters in Quebec City.

    “Changing the dates has an effect on broadcasting, but that does not mean that individual broadcasters have a say in the decision.”

    Asked by Around the Rings what he would tell Doha and Baku – the other nixed bid – he referenced the Olympics races for 2016 and 2018 as proof that perseverance pays off.

    “Rio tried three times in a row,” he said. “PyeongChang tried three times in a row too.”

    Rogge, however, fell short of offering any real clues about what sort of bids would need to be mounted to overcome the inherent obstacles – size for Baku, fierce summer heat for Doha – and harbor any hopes of success.

    “Wait and See” on Saudi Arabia
    A woman has yet to represent Saudi Arabia at an Olympic Games. (Getty Images)

    Despite Saudi NOC president Prince Nawaf Faisal Fahd Abdulaziz's insistence not to endorse females for his delegation to London 2012, the IOC “will wait and see” whether any women qualify from the Gulf state.

    “There is absolutely no reason to consider the participation of Saudi women under the IOC flag,” Rogge said.

    “It's not been an easy situation, but there is a commitment and we are working to find a solution.”

    Saudi Arabia is one of only three countries never to field a female Olympian. The others, Qatar and Brunei, are already committed to sending some to the upcoming Summer Games.

    Euro 2020 Concerns

    Asked how Istanbul escaped Wednesday's cut from the EB with its Euro 2020 interest still alive, Rogge notably did not rule out the Turkish capital staging both the football finals and the Olympics in the same summer.
    NOC president Ugur Erdener (middle left) and VP Hasan Arat (middle right) hoist the Turkish flag after Wednesday's shortlist as NBA star Hedo Turkoglu (third from left) towers over. (ATR)

    Rule 34 of the Olympic Charter, he cited, only rules out a country staging another major competition one week before or one week after the Games, not necessarily an issue for the European championships.

    He did, however, stress that only one of the bids is official, echoing Istanbul 2020 leader Hasan Arat's comments earlier this week that the Euro 2020 bid is “just a letter” from the Turkish Football Federation.

    “This bid is not yet accepted by UEFA,” Rogge said Thursday, “and this bid today does not have the financial guarantees of the government” given it's only an expression of interest at this point.

    “There is only one official bid, which is the Olympic bid,” the IOC president added.

    No Ethics Decisions Yet

    Pal Scmitt announced his resignation in Hungarian Parliament last month. (Getty Images)
    The ethics cases of IOC members Pal Schmitt of Hungary and Dae Sung Moon of South Korea, both suffering the fallout of recent plagiarism allegations, will not be decided by this week's EB.

    Schmitt resigned as Hungarian president last month in the face of the humiliating revelation that he had copied the works of others into a post-graduate thesis on the history of the modern Olympic Movement.

    Only weeks later, Moon admitted to falsifying his own thesis, a foul that led to his resignation from South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party.

    In both instances, the IOC is waiting for additional information to arrive before weighing in one way or the other.

    “It's just a matter of respecting the rights of the defense,” Rogge said.

    Allegiance Change Denied

    Olympic hopeful Majlinda Kelmendi has a flag to fly at London 2012, just not the one she wanted.

    EB members ruled Thursday the former junior world and European champion judoka, born in Kosovo but requesting to compete under the IOC flag, does not meet the necessary conditions for a change of allegiance.

    “She did qualify for Albania. She received Olympic scholarships from Albania. She has an Albanian passport,” Rogge said, and Albania is the only country she may represent at the Games.

    “Almost Ready”

    After receiving their final pre-Games report from LOCOG leaders Thursday, members of the EB are confident in the success of the 2012 Olympics, according to Rogge.

    “They said very wisely that they were 'almost ready' but still have some work to do in the remaining 65 days.”

    Written and reported in Quebec by Matthew Grayson.

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