Rio de Janeiro played dirty to be able to host the 2016 Olympic Games, according to a sentence handed down this Thursday by a judge from that city. Former president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee Carlos Arthur Nuzman, 79, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for paying a bribe to buy votes to host Rio. The spectacular Brazilian city defeated Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago in 2009. The ruling establishes that Nuzman and two other convicts paid two million dollars to the former president of the International Athletics Federation Lamine Diack in exchange for nine votes to ensure victory.
Nuzman, who then proclaimed himself “the father of the Olympics” and who kept 16 kilos of gold in a Swiss bank, was the link with the bribed members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The conviction for this case, derived from the Lava Jato mega-operation, is for money laundering, tax evasion, corruption and belonging to a criminal gang. You will remain at liberty until your appeal is resolved. The payment vouchers have been crucial to the judgment, which states that the money was sent through a Brazilian businessman and collected by the son of Senegalese Diack. Rio, Brazil’s postal city, hosted the Olympics two years after hosting the Men’s Soccer World Cup.
Along with Nuzman, the former governor of Rio de Janeiro Sergio Cabral (to 10 years) and the former director of Rio 2016, Leonardo Gryner (13 years) were sentenced. Cabral, one of the great symbols of the deep-rooted corruption that is rotting Brazilian politics, has been punished for more than 400 years. Corruption also accompanied the careers of the legendary world football bosses João Havelange and Joseph Blatter.
Faced with the first revelations about the purchase of the Olympic venue, Cabral denied the facts but then changed his strategy and decided to collaborate in exchange for a sentence reduction. It is he who explained in detail to the investigators how the bribe to Diack was negotiated.
The Brazilian money was paid to Diack’s son, Papa Diack, on September 29, 2009, three days before the city was chosen as the venue. According to the former governor’s account, the then head of the Olympic and Rio 2016 committee told him that the president of the Athletics Federation was willing to allow himself to be bribed to pave the way to Rio. “We made contact with him. There is a guarantee of 5 to 6 votes. They want $ 1.5 million, ”Cabral said they told him. He accepted the offer. To avoid taking risks, they got another half million with which Diack assured them nine votes; among them, the Ukrainian Serguei Bubka and the Russian Alexander Popov, both Olympic champions. Without those nine votes, Rio would never have passed Chicago in the first round.
Chicago was disqualified, first, and Tokyo later, in the final vote Madrid fell to Rio de Janeiro by 32 votes to 66, with which the Olympism also settled a debt with South America, which had never hosted the great sports festival. For Brazil, the Games were the symbolic final fireworks of a glorious era in which, thanks to the economic boom and diplomatic successes, it entered the league of the greats and dazzled the world with Lula da Silva. In parallel to the celebrations of the fastos, corruption scandals, popular discontent, the economic and political crisis that culminated in the election of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018 were looming.
For more than two decades, Nuzman headed the Brazilian Olympic Committee, a position from which he only resigned after the start of Operation Jogo Sujo (Foul Play) in 2017.
The transfer was made by businessman Arthur César Soares de Menezes, known in Rio as King Arturo, for having the most profitable contracts with the Government of Rio, through the offshore Matlock Capital Group. In his confession to reduce the sentence, former Governor Cabral also stated that former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and current Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes knew of the deception, but did not participate in the bribery. Neither man was charged in this case. According to authorities, Nuzman’s assets grew 457% during his last decade at the helm of the Olympic Committee.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.