December 4, 2007 / 2:47 PM / 11 years ago

Coe denies any Olympic conflict of interest

LONDON (Reuters) - Olympic chief Seb Coe denied any conflict of interest between his business concerns and his London 2012 role during grilling by politicians on Tuesday.

Sebastian Coe, head of the London 2012 Games, attends an interview with Reuters at the 2012 headquarters in Canary Wharf, London August 1, 2007. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

The London 2012 Organising Committee (Locog) chairman said there was no conflict between his job and his shareholding in Complete Leisure Group, which manages his business activities.

A Dispatches programme for Channel 4 in September said Coe was set to make a fortune through his links.

But when asked by Paul Farrelly, a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, about the relationship, Coe said there were no issues.

Farrelly raised a specific item in the programme which claimed a draft fundraising prospectus for CLG contained reference to a plan for a strategic business relationship with the owners of the Millennium Dome, an Olympic site which will host the gymnastics and basketball competitions.

Coe said: “It is a relationship that never actually took place. It was a series of thinking we had in the development of the company and we never went down that road. It is as simple as that and that was a draft document.”

He said his business interests were declared to the Locog board, the government and the International Olympic Committee.

When asked: “You can categorically say you have no business relationships through your companies or associates that would lead to any conflict of interest with your current position as the chairman of Locog?”, Coe replied “Absolutely.”

MPs also queried reports that planned temporary venues, which would be relocated after the Games, had been ditched because of costs.

Newspapers this week said fencing and basketball would be staged in London’s existing ExCeL and Dome centres because new sites would cost about 100 million pounds each.

John Armitt, chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, said designs for the basketball stadium were being developed, while fencing was still being looked at.

The issue of sponsorship was also raised, and Locog’s target of attracting 650 million pounds.

So far, it has attracted three main sponsors, worth about 170 million pounds, Locog Chief Executive Paul Deighton said.

Beijing 2008 has attracted about 750 million pounds.

Deighton said sponsorship was on target, though he admitted the last 200 million pounds would be more difficult to raise than the first.

Coe defended the money spent on the design of the London 2012 logo, in response to a question from Philip Davies, saying it was a “hard-working” one which was designed to connect with young people.

Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Steve Addison

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