IOC Says Media Passes Missing

Olympic officials recalled all media passes for Friday's vote on the venue of the 2008 Summer Games after discovering Tuesday that an undisclosed number of accreditation badges were missing.

Officials said they would issue new passes to the 1,500 media representatives who planned to attend a week of International Olympic Committee meetings, during which the world body will also choose a new president.

"Enough had gone missing to make it an issue," said one Olympic official. "It was a matter of making the system watertight."

The media interest in the four-day IOC session starting Friday and in other Olympic meetings leading up to it has been huge since two historic decisions are due to be taken.

The IOC is expected to hand the Games to China for the first time in Friday's vote with Beijing tipped to hold off a strong challenge from Toronto and Paris. Istanbul and the Japanese city of Osaka are regarded as outsiders in the five-city contest.

Next Monday, the session will choose its first new president for 21 years when Juan Antonio Samaranch steps down.

Security has been tight but not overbearing at the Mezhdunarodnaya hotel in central Moscow where IOC leaders started meetings on Monday.

Beijing's bid has been controversial. It has been attacked by a bipartisan coalition of U.S. lawmakers as well as by supporters of human rights in Tibet.

The IOC has also received threats from anti-China groups warning members of attacks if they vote for Beijing, which narrowly lost to Sydney in a previous bid for the 2000 Games.

Officials did not link Tuesday's accreditation decision with the threats but they are anxious to ensure the organizational side of the meetings runs smoothly.

Security is always an issue in the Olympic movement after attacks at Games in the past. Reporters, officials and IOC members are expected to wear their accreditation badges at all times at Olympic meetings.

The large number of media expected in Moscow has put the IOC's communications department under pressure.

When the IOC voted on the venue of the 2006 Winter Games in Seoul two years ago, around 300 media attended the meetings compared to the 1,500 in Moscow.