'We have a very, very good bid'

London sent off its bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday, calling it a “winning formula” towards snaring the world’s biggest sporting event.

“I am feeling very confident, very excited,” said Lord Sebastian Coe, chairperson of the British capital’s 2012 campaign, as basketballer Amber Charles hopped on a commuter flight to Lausanne to hand-deliver the 600-page file.

“We were in Athens [host of the 2004 Games] and took on the latest thinking about the bid. All of this is in the document. It details everything that we are planning, our intentions, and I think it is a winning formula.”

“No bid is perfect,” Coe added, “but we have a very, very good bid.”

The detailed plans will be scrutinised and tested by IOC officials before a final decision is made in July.

Paris remains the bookies’ favourite.
William Hill put Paris at 4-7, London 2-1, Madrid 13-2, New York 12-1 and Moscow at 33-1.

London’s bid includes the construction of a brand-new sporting complex aimed at reviving east London, but also includes tradition sites in the capital with Horseguard’s Parade, Hyde Park and Lord’s all potential venues.

It was boosted on Monday by a new opinion poll by the ICM institute, which indicated that 75% of Britons back the bid—although only 69% of Londoners were supportive.

An IOC delegation will visit London in February as part of its analysis into the five bidding cities. A report will then be drawn up and handed to the IOC members in June, who will pick a winner the following month in Singapore.

Speaking on BBC radio over the weekend, Coe—the only man to win back-to-back Olympic 1 500m gold medals in 1980 and 1984—said London, which last hosted the Olympics in 1948, has closed ground on Paris and Madrid.

“I think we have to concede that Paris were ahead at the very beginning of this simply because this was the second or third time they have bid,” Coe said.

“We have moved a long way on a lot of the issues. Transport was generally viewed as a problem for us amongst IOC members; it is now seen as one of our strongest hands.

“Since the initial submission in January that got London to the table as a candidate city we have narrowed the gap quite dramatically on the perceived front-runners.”

In the months since London’s initial bid placed them third, much has changed, most notably with Coe replacing former airline boss Barbara Cassani as the bid’s leader.

His influence on the IOC members could be crucial.

London’s bid does not feature one specific sales pitch, but rather outlines every aspect of how the nation’s capital could successfully stage the world’s biggest sporting event, Coe said.

“What the candidate file does do is hopefully take us into a zone of confidence,” he said. “There may be a number of reasons why they do or don’t vote for London ultimately, but it won’t be because we will be unable to organise a Games.”—Sapa-AFP

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