Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Coe Can Show 2012 Is Up and Running; the Marathon Gives a Perfect Backdrop to This Week's Key Visit by Olympic Chiefs

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Coe Can Show 2012 Is Up and Running; the Marathon Gives a Perfect Backdrop to This Week's Key Visit by Olympic Chiefs

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN WARNER

IT SEEMS like an age away after a year of triumph and tragedy for the capital but this time last year London was still struggling to catch up with favourites Paris in the bidding race for the 2012 Olympics.

The Flora London Marathon was the final opportunity for the city to show off its ability to host major sporting events before the International Olympic Committee vote on 6 July.

Few were predicting a London triumph then. Anybody suggesting that the IOC would be in town during 2006 marathon week for the first official analysis of preparations for the 2012 London Olympics would have been quietly escorted to a darkened room.

Yet here we are today with the IOC's 17-strong coordination commission starting the first in a series of meetings with the London organising committee (LOCOG) in the run-up to the Games.

It is fitting that the Olympic leaders have come to the capital in the week of the marathon. More than any other event in London - Wimbledon and FA Cup finals included (when they eventually get back to Wembley) - the race demonstrates the country's passion for both elite and recreational sport.

The 2005 race gave a much-needed boost to the bid. A record crowd of 750,000 people lined the streets to watch Paula Radcliffe triumph and more runners started and finished the event than ever before.

Pictures of Britain's enthusiasm for athletics were broadcast around the world, reaching a crucial gathering of Olympic leaders in Berlin attended by bid leader Seb Coe. He said: "When people ask me what our bid is all about, the London Marathon is the answer. People revelling in participation, huge numbers turning up to watch, impeccable organisation, complete safety and huge enjoyment, all in the name of sport."

London could do worse than persuade the IOC to come to the city this time every spring for the annual visit of the commission, headed by Switzerland's former Olympic rower Denis Oswald. …

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