Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Upbeat Coe Is Ready for His Biggest Olympic Challenge since Los Angeles Triumph

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Upbeat Coe Is Ready for His Biggest Olympic Challenge since Los Angeles Triumph

Article excerpt


WITH London facing its biggest crisis so far in the campaign to stage the 2012 Olympics, one leading international sports figure was sure he knew what the capital required to pull itself out of the mire caused by the Panorama controversy.

"If ever Britain needed the familiar face of Seb Coe, it is now," said the official, a former International Olympic Committee vice president.

So here he is, the double Olympic champion, smoothly working the hotel lobbies and meeting rooms in Athens this week in an effort to claw back the ground lost to favourites Paris.

"The world of bids is choppy water," he said. "There is not a bid out there that isn't from time to time going through what we are going through.

"The others benefit from having a slightly less inquisitive media.

"But you won't find me complaining about the media because it's like the weather. You wake up in the morning and they are there and they will be there the entire duration of this."

Few IOC members will admit it publicly, but the recent BBC programme alleging cash-for-votes deals in the 2012 campaign has seriously damaged London's bid.

Some members say privately that the hidden cameras and microphones used by reporters posing as businessmen will make Olympic leaders wary of talking to representatives of London.

Yesterday, in an effort to gauge the mood among the IOC members who will decide the vote in Singapore next July, the former Conservative MP, who now has a seat in the House of Lords, spoke to around 25 members.

He addressed members before a screening of the documentary, stressing that the bid was not involved and saying that he was "angry and disappointed that London was used in such a misleading way".

He said: "I don't believe we are in a bad position. I have spoken to 25 members in the last few hours.

Only four mentioned Panorama in passing. We are not involved in it.

That is the key message."

This is Coe's biggest challenge at an Olympics since he won his second gold over 1,500metres in Los Angeles 20 years ago.

Coe spent the past six weeks trying to fix the fallout of the IOC's first report on the bid, which highlighted transport as a serious problem and ranked the capital behind Paris and Madrid. …

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