London, 12 May 2000 - I apologize for agreeing to allow Sophie, my daughter, to run as the first Australian torch bearer of the Olympic torch relay.
I was pleased for her to be invited by the Hellenic Olympic Committee to run. We all were then surprised by the announcement of the Hellenic Olympic Committee – the day before the event – that Sophie had been chosen to run the second leg. This was done without any knowledge of anyone’s being displaced by this decision.
Although at no stage did we seek her involvement, my fatherly pride clouded my judgement. In retrospect, I now know my acceptance on behalf of my daughter of their invitation was a mistake. It has led to a perception of undue influence by me as vice president of the International Olympic Committee and upset many Australians.
The IOC was not involved in the arrangements for the torch lighting ceremony or the torch run in Greece. I, therefore, accept personal responsibility for the decision to accept the invitation.
I apologize to all those who were upset by my lapse of judgment, especially Yianna Souleles, who may have hoped or expected to be the first Australian torch runner. I also regret that my decision has lead to unfair criticism of the IOC and its membership and has diverted attention from what was an uplifting event leading up to the Sydney Olympic Games.
For more information, please contact:
Franklin SERVAN-SCHREIBER, tel: +41 79 679 6339
Michael KONTOS, tel: +41 79 250 9987