Bread Not Circuses Coalition

Box 139, 365 Roncesvalles Ave.

Toronto, Ontario Canada, M6R 2M8

(416) 410-2267 www.breadnotcircuses.org

 

Letter from BNC to Elinor Caplan, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

re: Immigration screening of members of the Olympic "family"

Canada's federal government has apparently promised to allow unrestricted entry to this country of members of the so-called Olympic "family" if Toronto stages the 2008 Olympic Games.

The "Olympic family" potentially includes anyone accredited by the International Olympic Committee to the 2008 Games, including IOC members, international sporting officials, athletes, media and their families. This list includes thousands of names.

The Olympic "family" is extremely dysfunctional, and includes members who have records of serious criminal activity and crimes against humanity.

On March 9, 2001, Bread Not Circuses sent the following letter to Canada's immigration minister to seek her assurance that "inadmissible persons" will not be allowed into the country.

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Bread Not Circuses Coalition
Box 139, 365 Roncesvalles Ave.
Toronto, Ontario Canada, M6R 2M8
(416) 410-2267 www.breadnotcircuses.org

SENT VIA FAX - 613-992-0887

March 9, 2001

Hon. Elinor Caplan,
Minister, Citizenship and Immigration,
Government of Canada

RE: Immigration screening of members of the Olympic "family"

Dear Mme. Minister:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Bread Not Circuses Coalition to raise serious concerns about immigration commitments that apparently have been made by the Government of Canada regarding the 2008 Toronto Olympic bid. We are asking for your undertaking that the Government of Canada will individually review each application for entry by members of the so-called Olympic "family" for the Olympic Games, if they are staged in Toronto in 2008, using the relevant sections of the Immigration Act.

A report to Toronto City Council by municipal officials on January 11, 2001, indicates that the Government of Canada has made a commitment to facilitate the entry of the Olympic "family" should Toronto stage the 2008 Games. The report does not offer details. We have been told that the federal commitment is to provide "blanket approval" to anyone accredited by the International Olympic Committee to the 2008 Games, including IOC members, international sporting officials, athletes, media and their families. This list includes thousands of names.

This approval would apparently allow anyone on the IOC list - even those with an extensive record of criminal activity and corruption - to enter Canada without screening by Canadian officials. We are unable to confirm the details with the City of Toronto or TO-Bid (the committee organizing Toronto's bid) as they have refused to release key documents. We are proceeding with an appeal against the City of Toronto under freedom of information laws.

What is clear, however, is that any commitment to allow unrestricted entry for Olympic "family" members is a violation of the Immigration Act. The federal government does not have the authority to transfer responsibility for screening admission to Canada to the International Olympic Committee, an unelected, private corporation in Switzerland. The IOC has shown that it is not capable of making decisions that respect the basic principles of immigration law.

While the IOC seeks unrestricted entry for members of its "family", the federal immigration department places a head tax that acts as a barrier to low-income immigrants. Your department places unnecessary standards and limitations on low-income immigrants, such as domestic workers. We join with those who have been urging your department to eliminate the discriminatory head tax. And we say that there should be no special deal for members of the Olympic "family", especially considering the record of criminal activity and corruption on the part of certain Olympic officials.

During the 2000 Games in Australia, the IOC accredited two individuals, Gafur Rakhimov of Uzbekistan, a senior executive of the International Amateur Boxing Association, vice president of the Uzbek Boxing Federation and vice president of the Olympic Council of Asia; and Carl Ching, president of the Asian Basketball Confederation. There are extensive allegations of serious criminal activity on the part of these two individuals. Ching has previously been banned from entry to Canada.

Australian authorities banned the two for "safety and security reasons". The IOC protested this immigration decision. "In general, you're supposed to let everyone in," said Canadian IOC member Dick Pound, an IOC vice president. "It's part of the deal."

Section 19 of Canada's Immigration Act sets out classes of "inadmissible persons". It does not allow the Government of Canada to make a "deal" with the International Olympic Committee. Federal officials may make a case-by-case review of applications for entry, and permit 30-day visits, but this decision must be made by Canadian immigration authorities after reviewing each case on an individual basis. The IOC accreditation process is entirely irrelevant in Canadian law.

In addition to the two people listed above, there are others in the Olympic "family" that we want to draw to your attention. Mohammad "Bob" Hasan, the International Olympic Committee member from Indonesia, faces numerous corruption and criminal charges regarding his 40-year relationship with deposed Indonesian dictator Suharto. Lee Kun-Hee, the IOC member from South Korea, was convicted and received a two-year sentence for bribery and corruption in a case that involved bribes to the then-president of that country in the amount of $667 million.

Information on these four Olympic "family" members - Rakhimov, Ching, Hasan and Kun-Hee - is widely available. No doubt there is extensive information in files available to your immigration officials, including international police records, on these two individuals and other members of the Olympic "family".

We would be pleased to provide further information from our own research, if requested.

These are not the only four Olympic "family" members who have attracted serious criminal or human rights accusations. The criminal investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States regarding bribery and corruption in the Salt Lake City Olympic bid, along with other information regarding corrupt practices in the Sydney and Atlanta bid, also raise serious questions about the fitness of a number of members of the Olympic "family" to enter Canada.

The Government of Canada has a statutory responsibility under the Immigration Act to carefully screen all persons seeking entry to our country. The law does not allow it to make any "deals" or commitments to the International Olympic Committee or any other private corporations.

We look forward to your detailed response, in writing, to these concerns.

Sincerely,

Jan Borowy,
Steering Committee member
on behalf of the Coalition.