The political temperature is
rising in Singapore as the rival delegations from the bidding cities to host the
2012 Olympic Games give their final one-hour presentations. The Olympic ideal should probably read “all is fair
in votes and war” when the IOC voting takes place
tomorrow. Bookmaker
William Hill rates Paris a 1-4 favourite, London 11-4, Madrid 20-1, New York 25-1
and Moscow 50-1.

Already a couple of Aussie
stadium experts acting as consultants to the London bid, have broken protocol by slagging
off the sight lines of the Stade de France – Paris’s main venue.

Naturally the London bid team points
to the IOC history of upsets, as was certainly the case when both
Atlanta and Sydney got the gig. But given Paris just happens to be in
France, ultimately it could be a matter of persuading an unofficial
“coalition of the willing” to get behind London, while France is using
global hostility against both London and New York to help drive Paris
over the
line. At least New York is smart enough to leave George W Bush at
home, while both French President Jacques Chirac and British PM Tony
Blair are on the ground to get out the vote.

What’s at stake isn’t just the
political, cultural and sporting bragging rights to be enjoyed
by the host city and country, but the bonus from huge infrastructure investment
that comes with a victory. London’s
is estimated at $15.8 billion and Paris $6.2 billion.

Today’s
Guardian article, VIPs, voting pacts and vengeance, speculates with a degree
of optimism that long
memories among IOC delegates may yet work against Paris.

Peter Fray

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