China sacks deputy sports minister ahead of Olympic decision

BEIJING: A deputy sports minister who sat on China's Olympics committee has been sacked, the government said on Thursday, following a corruption investigation by the ruling Communist Party.

The news comes as Beijing enters the final leg of its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, though the bid panel says the scandal over the official, Xiao Tian, will not affect its bid.

Almaty in Kazakhstan is the only other bidding city, with a decision expected to be announced on July 31.

In a short notice on its website, the Ministry of Human Resources said Xiao had been stripped of his position as a deputy head of the General Administration of Sport, the equivalent of a vice minister. It did not elaborate.

Telephone calls to the General Administration of Sport, to seek comment, went unanswered.

It has not been possible to reach Xiao for comment and the government has given no other details of the investigation.

Last month, the Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said Xiao was being probed for suspected "serious breaches of discipline and the law", the usual euphemism for corruption.

Corruption in international sports is in focus because of a U.S. and Swiss probe into world football body FIFA.

China, which is aggressively seeking to stamp out graft in Party and government ranks, has also sought to eject corrupt elements from its sports establishment, especially within soccer, which has been hit by match-fixing scandals.