The Observer: "London's Olympic dream in tatters"

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The Observer reports "London's Olympic dream in tatters"

Can this be true ? Or is it a public relations ploy to try to rally support ?

"London's Olympic dream in tatters

Key British officials admit Paris 'will win' as lack of funds for sport drains IOC support

Denis Campbell and Helena Smith in Athens
Sunday January 30, 2005
The Observer

London has in effect abandoned hope of winning the 2012 Olympic Games, because it is so far behind Paris, key members of the bidding team have told The Observer .

The senior figures behind the capital's bid to stage the world's largest sporting event have admitted that they expect the French capital to win the five-city race when the decision is announced on 6 July.

One member of the 2012 bid's board said London's chances of securing votes from the 117 members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were hampered by the government's perceived under-investment in sport and Britain's broken promise to hold this year's World Athletics Championships. 'Paris is ahead; we expect them to win,' the board member said.

A second key strategist said most of those involved expected Paris to win out over London, Madrid, New York and Moscow, and that a mood of depression had infected the bid team. Staff believe there is nothing London can do to prevent that result, the official said.

'The top brass in the bid are in depression,' he said. 'A lot of the staff know they aren't going to win. Some are having trouble putting that out of their minds, and focusing. The reality is that they can put in the best bid in the world - and London's bid is very good - but, even if they could wave a magic wand and solve their biggest problems by 6 July, they still wouldn't win. Paris is so strong that it can't be beaten.'

Campaign team personnel, and key allies of the bid in government and British sport, privately admit nobody expects London to win.

'They developed momentum during and after last year's Athens Olympics and the London bid was a bit buzzy for a while, but that has gone,' said the strategist.

'They know they've put in a very good bid document, and done some great PR, and got Tony Blair's full backing, yet the reality is that nothing has really shifted in terms of IOC members' opinions.'"

Could someone explain how, for example, any IOC members from Muslim countries will be able to vote for London rather than Paris, without serious risks to themselves for being seen to support Tony Blair ?

"Several members of the IOC confirmed that members generally expected Paris to win. 'If the vote were held today, Paris would win, and Paris probably will win on 6 July, unless it makes a huge mistake before then,' said one. 'London isn't out of it, but Paris is highly likely to win the vote.'

Another IOC member said the recent claim that the Queen had told one athletics fan that she expected Paris to win had done the capital significant damage."

Her Majesty the Queen is reported to have said that she thought Paris might win over London because of the lack of public support here. Why should she be blamed for the truth ?

Far more people are likely to have been turned off the bid by Ken Livingstone's and Tony Blair's "support" than by the comments from the Queen.

"Lord Coe, the double Olympic gold medal-winner who is running London's bid, maintains publicly that the race is still too close to call, but colleagues privately accept that Paris is favourite.

Mike Lee, London 2012's director of communications, last night described the pessimism from within the bid as 'a nonsense'. 'Not only is this an open race with everything to play for, but there are also five months to go before the vote,' he said. 'The mood is upbeat and confident. We have received extremely positive feedback on our proposals, and on the details of our candidate file, which we submitted in November.'"

They have done nothing to consult or convince a large number of Londoners of the long term benefits to them, let alone the rest of the United Kingdom.

"Coe and his colleagues were yesterday finishing a four-day dress rehearsal for the visit by the IOC's evaluation commission on 16 February to scrutinise the capital's proposals.

When the IOC gave its initial verdict on London's bid last May, it criticised the poor public transport system, relative lack of public and government support, and in experience of hosting sports events.

Many IOC members want to award Paris 2012 to honour Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the Frenchman who started the modern Olympic Games in 1896.

Another IOC member said that Paris's actual investment in sports facilities such as the Stade de France had impressed them, especially when compared to London's 'virtual bid' of architects' plans, scale models and promises to build an array of new sports facilities in the East End."

After the worries that the Athens Olympics facilities would not be ready in time, and the deaths and injuries to construction workers which resulted from the rush to meet the extremely tight construction deadlines, is it any wonder that IOC members would favour a bid where most of the facilities are already built, over "airy fairy" virtual promises ?

2 Comments

Why I and other disabled persons and pensioners do NOT aupport London for the 2012 Olympics.

Abuses in private car parks of Disabled Parking bays for registered disabled persons by the non-disabled. There has not to date been a single prosecution in the United Kingdom. It is the only Western country where these abuses are allowed without penalty. How can we invite persons from around the civilized world - where there are tough penalties for non-compliance? In the USA, Canada and USA, fines for illegal parking by non-disabled persons in private car parks (for example, shopping malls) are up to six times the regular fine for a Human Rights or Civil Rights violation or both. Disabled potential tourists from Canada and USA, Europe, etc should avoid coming to UK until anti-parking-abuse laws in the UK reach their standards.

Para Olympics. Held immediately after the Olympics, for the disabled. But this is surely not possible in UK when no penalties are given to abuses of parking spaces for Disabled Badge Holders? And where more than 23% of the population abuse such Disabled Parking Spaces?

Petrol - at over ?0.82 per litre in England and even more in Scotland - is the most expensive in Europe and shares with Bermuda the label of being the most expensive in the world. Its cost makes visiting some parts of Britain - for example, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland - unrealistic for those on a budget. It is nearly four times more than in USA.

Public transport - by bus, coach, train, ferry - is the most expensive in Europe, by far - especially since the latest rises effective January 1, 2005 - averaging 22p a kilometer compared to about 9p a kilometer in rest of Europe and far less in Canada and USA.

Despite the above, London has - incredulously - made a formal bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Yours sincerely,

Keith Forbes
Activist for OAPs and Disabled
Member of National Assembly of Age Concern Scotland,
Ashcroft, 15 Victoria Road, Brora, Sutherland KW9 6LN. Phone 01408 622923

As I write, only 127 days to go until the World says "Start spreadin' the news!".

Ted Davis
Gold Coast, Australia

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