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|August 29, 2000||
China, Japan, on 2008 shortlistSteve Keating in Lausanne
Beijing, Paris, Toronto, Osaka and Istanbul reached the final of the race for the 2008 Summer Olympics on Monday.
Out went Bangkok, Havana, Seville, Kuala Lumpur and Cairo as the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s executive board halved the list of candidates to five.
Staging the Games has become a lucrative business and provides a huge boost to a country's economy. Sydney will host the 2000 Games next month while the 2004 Summer Games will be held in Athens.
High marks went to the Chinese and French capitals, plus Osaka and Toronto, in the 80-page report compiled by the IOC's Candidature Working Group. They were unanimous selections.
Istanbul was included because it was close to the cut and making a third consecutive bid.
"The quality of the four recommended by the specialists committee was very good and not easy to separate," said Australian IOC vice-president Kevan Gosper.
"And the inclusion of Istanbul was essentially because they were so close to the line and had bid before. There was a majority view we should include them as well."
Under new reforms after the corruption and bribery scandals surrounding Salt Lake City's successful bid to stage the 2002 Winter Games, prospective host cities were required to undergo a bid acceptance procedure to determine whether they should be approved as official candidates.
The bid acceptance phase was designed to allow the IOC to study each city's organisational capabilities. Bids going forward must be adequately prepared to host the Games.
Protesters demonstrated against the Toronto bid outside IOC headquarters in Lausanne.
Moments before the finalists were announced, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch and Canadian IOC vice-president Dick Pound met about 20 protesters who had flown to Switzerland to demonstrate against the use of the Adams Mine as a Toronto refuse dump.
As television crews from around the world jostled for position, an uncomfortable Samaranch accepted a pamphlet with the slogan 'Help Stop the Toronto Olympic Bid' written in bold black letters.
"That's your problem," an unsympathetic Samaranch told the protesters.
"But these documents will be distributed to members of the executive board and members of the International Olympic Committee as I promised," added the IOC president.
"I told them that this is a Toronto problem. You have to solve this problem, not here in the IOC, you have to solve this problem in Toronto."
The five candidates now have almost a year to convince the IOC that they are the city to stage the 2008 Games.
An IOC evaluation team will visit each site and prepare a detailed dossier on every bid. The documents will be distributed to the entire IOC membership, who will vote on the host city at its congress in Moscow next July.
IOC members are no longer allowed to visit candidate cities.
French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin expressed satisfaction at the selection of Paris.
"Even though this decision was expected, it confirms the solidity of the bid presented by the 'Paris 2008' committee," he said.
"This first victory is a boost for the Paris bid to go further," he added.
His sports minister Marie-George Buffet said the Paris bid was "the bid of efficiency".
"We showed by organising the (soccer) World Cup what we did well in terms of transportation and facilities," she said.
"Technically, we're ready," she added.
Paris mayor Jean Tiberi said his town had "all the assets to face the challenge".
"We have the hotel network, a very efficient transportation network, two airports and adequate sports facilities."
Egypt's Olympic Committee chief Mounir Sabet said of Cairo's failure: "We feel sad and are studying the reasons behind the decision."
Sabet said Egypt was determined to press on with its plans to build sports facilities and would bid to host other major events.
"We will apply to host the 2009 Mediterranean Games," Sabet said.
Youth and sports minister Ali el din Hilal said: "This is Egypt's first experience and we have benefited from it.~
Mail Sports Editor
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