Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wanted: A Leader Fit for the Hard Sell

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wanted: A Leader Fit for the Hard Sell

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN WARNER

THE eclectic band of millionaires, royalty and former Olympians who make up the International Olympic Committee have one habit in common: they all hold their cards close to their chest.

When I ask IOC members whether London should bid for the 2012 Olympics, most nod approvingly. But if I quiz them whether they would back the capital in the 2005 vote, they dodge the issue and change the subject.

Olympic Games are chosen in a secret ballot and IOC members, who do not vote in packs or blocs, rarely reveal their voting intentions - or they tells fibs about them.

Although there are no guarantees in the bidding process, one thing is certain. The 2012 campaign is going to be a fight between some of the world's greatest cities. New York and Moscow have already entered while Paris, Madrid and a German city are set to follow.

It is now the Government's decision to decide if London is big enough to join them.

IOC members believe London is the only city in Britain that could win a vote. We may get frustrated with our capital with its traffic problems and bad weather. But to foreigners, we live in the one of the most invigorating cities on the planet. The IOC recognise that.

The members also know Britain has a passionate sporting culture, as proved by this year's Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

London's infrastructure and sporting facilities would benefit greatly from hosting an Olympics. London needs the 2012 Olympics more than Paris or Madrid in that respect. The Olympic L-word - "legacy" - is a turn-on to IOC members.

Throw in the attractions of West End hotels and shopping and a possible invitation to Buckingham Palace for tea to their spouses - who may not be great sports fans - and London could easily become a frontrunner in 2005 with Paris and New York.

BUT the city must get its tactics right in the unique environment of "Planet IOC". …

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