Blair Is Muscling in on 2012, Say Olympic Chiefs; GAMES PLAYER: Tony Blair with Chinese Actress Zhang Ziyi in Beijing BIG IDEAS: Nick Keller, Who Has Hired Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), August 31, 2008 | Go to article overview

Blair Is Muscling in on 2012, Say Olympic Chiefs; GAMES PLAYER: Tony Blair with Chinese Actress Zhang Ziyi in Beijing BIG IDEAS: Nick Keller, Who Has Hired Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell


Byline: Simon Walters

SENIOR figures involved in the 2012 Olympics claim Tony Blair may be trying to 'muscle in' on the London Games through an organisation set up by a multi-millionaire businessman.

Nick Keller, who is an agent of top sports stars and runs novelty sports events for City tycoons, has appointed Mr Blair as the grandly titled Chairman of Ambassadors of his Beyond Sport foundation, set up in July.

The organisation is part of Mr Keller's business empire, Benchmark Sport Holdings, which employs Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair's former Downing Street spin doctor, as a non-executive director.

Another of Mr Blair's controversial No 10 aides, Ruth Turner, who was at the heart of the loans-for-peerages row, is a Beyond Sport adviser.

Beyond Sport and Benchmark Sport both operate from the same address in Covent Garden, London.

Mr Keller was in Beijing for the Olympics and told officials involved in the 2012 Games that he hoped they would take part in a Beyond Sport summit next year. Mr Keller said the event would be attended by 'some of the world's most influential people', including Mr Blair.

But the activities of Beyond Sport have led to concern among some Olympic chiefs on two fronts.

First, that Mr Blair could use it to get more involved in the 2012 Games and steal the limelight from London

Mayor Boris Johnson. Second, the risk of a conflict of interest with Mr Keller's commercial activities as a sport and entertainment promoter.

A well-placed source said: 'The Olympic brand is carefully protected and we keep a close eye on anyone we believe may be trying to use it to further their own business interests.

'Tony Blair is well regarded within the Olympic movement for his role in getting the Games for London, but there is no role for him at the event itself and no obvious reason for him to get more involved.

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