Jacques Chirac’s surprising suggestion that he knew of a country with
worse food than England may have helped tip the balance in London’s
favour, but Geoffrey Robertson offered an alternative theory on Radio
National this morning. He argued that the uncommitted votes on the IOC
mostly come from Africa, and that Tony Blair’s advocacy of debt relief
for African countries could have been the key factor in winning their
If this is true, the parallel with Australian elections is fascinating.
In each case, most of the votes are sewn up beforehand, and victory
comes from successfully courting a few swingers. In Australia it’s the
mortgage belt of the outer suburbs, in the IOC it’s Africa: one rich
and one poor, but both liable to appeal to their self-interest.
What we need, prior to the next Olympic selection in four years’ time,
is for one of our intrepid psephologists to compile an IOC pendulum,
showing just where the French need to get a swing to succeed next time!