Senegal’s Lamine Diack, former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) from 1999 to 2015 and current Senegalese delegate to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is subject to an ongoing investigation for bribery and corruption.
Recently, Brazilian economist Carlos Emanuel Miranda told prosecutors in a plea deal that he “managed” a payment of $2 million USD or more to Diack to secure four votes for the Rio 2016 Olympic bid in 2009. The money was transferred from an account controlled by Brazilian businessman Arthur Soares, also known as “King Arthur”, to Papa Massata Diack, son of Lamine Diack, who then distributed the funds to the others they wished to sway into voting for Rio 2016. The money was transferred from Soares’s British Virgin Islands-based account to a French account controlled by Papa Diack.
An email sent by Papa Diack to Rio 2016 General Director Leonardo Gryner further suggests that there were other beneficiaries of the $2 million payment, reports Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paolo. Gryner, for his part, was investigated by Brazilian authorities around the same time in 2017 as Carlos Nuzman, former president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee and of the Rio 2016 Olympic bid. Nuzman, who is also implicated in Miranda’s testimony, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption and money laundering in October 2017.
Furthermore, the transcript of Miranda’s testimony alleges that disgraced ex-governor of Rio de Janeiro Sergio Cabral, who has been sentenced to prison four separate times for a current total of 87 years for his role in “Operation Efficiency” prior the Rio Games, was involved in the payment from Soares to Diack. Cabral is accused to have said during their first months in prison that Soares “would have made payments to African leaders connected to the athletics sector to buy four votes,” reports Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paolo. (We may infer that Cabral says Soares “would have made payments” instead of “did make payments” because as stated earlier, Miranda “managed” the transaction from Soares’s British Virgin Islands account to Diack’s in France.)
One of those votes came from former Namibian sprinter Frankie Fredricks, who is also under investigation for his ties to Diack. Shortly before the IOC awarded the 2016 Summer Games to Rio in October 2009, Yemi Limited, a company linked to Fredericks, received payments from Pamodzi Consulting, an offshore company once owned by Papa Diack. Yemi Limited, which is domiciled in Seychelles, an African island nation known internationally as a tax haven, was transferred $300,000 in order to secure Fredericks’s vote for Rio 2016 in 2009.
While it has been speculated for some time with mounting evidence that Lamine Diack and his son Papa Diack had taken part in a large-scale multi-national bribery scheme to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Rio, the full extent of Diack’s influence in deciding where the Games of the 31st Modern Olympiad would take place is still unfolding, and the revelation that four votes were secured through bribes is significant.
Though Rio ultimately beat Madrid, its next closest contender for the 2016 Olympics, by 34 votes, totaling 66 to Madrid’s 32, it is vital to note that in the earlier rounds of voting Rio was not as much of a favorite as the final tally would make it seem. In round one of voting on host cities, Rio received 26 votes, Madrid 28 votes, Tokyo 22 votes, and Chicago 18 votes. Even if all four votes were evenly distributed, Rio would still only tie with Tokyo in round one; however, if all four had instead gone to any of the other three cities, Rio could have been eliminated in the first round.