Handful of votes will decide 2012 Games, Rogge says
By Ossian Shine
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A handful of votes will decide thehost city for the 2012 Olympic Games, International OlympicCommittee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge said on Friday.
“It is only a gut feeling because I don’t know what is inthe minds of the International Olympic Committee members, but Ithink it will come down to less than 10 votes,” the Belgiansaid of Wednesday’s ballot. “Maybe as few as five or six.”
London, Madrid, Moscow, New York and Paris are fighting forthe right to stage the sporting extravaganza in the mostheavyweight battle in Olympic history.
“For the first time we have five cities all capable ofhosting excellent Games,” Rogge said. “It will be very, veryclose.”
The host will be selected in a secret vote on July 6 atSingapore’s Raffles City Convention Center by IOC members.
Some 115 are expected to turn out to vote in what will be acomplex affair, riddled with motives and interests.
Once the voting begins one city will drop out in each rounduntil a candidate polls an overall majority of members’ votes.
Rogge expects to announce the winning city at around 1930local time (1130 GMT).
Advance parties from the five bidding teams have beenarriving in Singapore to put the finishing touches to theirpresentations to IOC members and prepare last-minute lobbying.
London bid leader Sebastian Coe and chief executive KeithMills have set up camp at the luxury holiday island of Sentosaand Coe was in bullish mood on Friday.
“At the moment I am just thinking bring it on’,” the formerOlympic champion said.
“We are in good shape, the team is relaxed and focused andI sense that we are ready.”
Coe said his team had spent a few quiet days in the luxuryretreat, honing the presentation they will give on Wednesday.
“We’ve had two or three days where there have been nodistractions… to get the presentation together,” he said.
“I don’t want to be sitting up at 4am (Wednesday morning)wondering about what the narrative is.
“London has an outstanding chance of winning. The finalslice? I can’t give you that, but my gut instinct is that thepresentations are going to be important.”
London’s team will be joined by British Prime Minister TonyBlair who will help lobby support.
New York’s bid team flew into Singapore at dawn on Fridaybefore heading straight to the Raffles complex where they werea visible presence.
“New York’s Olympic dream has now entered its final sixdays and we feel great about our chances,” New York City deputymayor and NYC2012 founder Dan Doctoroff said.
“We are excited to be in Singapore to share our city’sstory and how powerful an Olympic Games on the New York stagewould be.
“Our team looks forward to sharing our vision for theOlympic Games with the IOC. With a great delegation presentingan excellent plan we are confident we’re in a strong positionto win. We haven’t come this far to finish second.”
The Paris team, considered favorites by most commentators,has chief executive Philippe Baudillon already on site. Frenchpresident Jacques Chirac will be joining Baudillon and Parismayor Bertrand Delanoe in Singapore and will feature in Paris’spresentation on July 6.
Madrid’s advance party has set up camp and will be joinedby Queen Sofia, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero,Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, bid chief FelicianoMayoral and former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch onSunday and Monday.
Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov arrives in Singapore on July 4.
“We have a winning team flying to Singapore,” he said.
“We are honored that our Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov isjoining us and demonstrating that the Federal and MoscowGovernments are 100 percent united in our commitment to bringthe 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to Moscow.”