July 6, 2005

IOC open hotly contested 2012 selection meeting

By Paul Radford

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - New York declared it would win butParis remained the marginal favorite on Wednesday as theInternational Olympic Committee (IOC) opened an all-day meetingto decide the host of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

London, Madrid and Moscow are also campaigning for whatmany see as the richest prize in sport. The decision, after avote by all IOC members at the Raffles City Convention Center,will be announced by president Jacques Rogge at around 1145GMT.

It is the first time five of the world's most prominentcities have competed for the right to stage the Games and thecampaign has been the most fiercely contested in Olympichistory.

New York tried to land a late psychological blow bydeclaring it would win just hours before IOC members gatheredat 8:30 a.m. (0030 GMT).

New York bid chief and deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff issued abullish statement which read: "New York's bid is perfectlypositioned to win the 2012 Games. This evening New York'sOlympic dream will become reality."

But Tuesday night gossip in the luxury hotels of theRaffles City complex suggested Paris remained marginalfavorites, ahead of London, Madrid, New York and Moscow.

Doctoroff apart, it was almost impossible to find anyoneprepared to stick his or her neck out and confidently declare awinner.

French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime MinisterTony Blair, who have both been in Singapore to promote theParis and London bids respectively, met at a party on Tuesdaynight after the formal opening of the four-day IOC session.


The two leaders, momentarily at least, buried theirdifferences and shook hands amicably.

Blair, who spent two days in Singapore trying to woo IOCmembers to the London cause, then flew back home to host the G8summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

Chirac will join him there after taking part in the Parispresentation before the IOC.

Each candidate city makes a one-hour presentation, whichincludes films and speeches from delegation leaders and sportspersonalities.

Paris goes first, followed by New York, Moscow, London andMadrid. An evaluation commission, which examined the five bidsin miniscule detail, then presents its report to the IOC.

The commission rated Paris and London's bids as of "veryhigh quality" with Madrid and New York assessed as of "highquality."

Voting is due to start at 0945 GMT. Unless one candidategains an absolute majority of votes, the lowest ranked citydrops out and a new round of voting is made.

This continues until a winner emerges.

Rogge will announce the victorious candidate during atelevised ceremony at 1130 GMT.

The IOC has 116 members of which 114 were expected inSingapore.

Members from countries with candidates are ineligible tovote while their cities are in contention. This means 99members can vote in the first round.