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Paris seeks Chirac help to boost bid

July 05, 2005 11:17 IST

Faltering favourites Paris looks to Tuesday's arrival of French President Jacques Chirac in Singapore to boost its bid to stage the 2012 Olympic Games in Wednesday's vote by the International Olympic Committee.

Paris faces London, Madrid, Moscow and New York in what is expected by IOC members to be the most closely-fought bid contest in Olympic history.

The French delegation arrived in Singapore as favourites but London, Madrid and New York all appear to have been gaining momentum at their expense and IOC president Jacques Rogge has described the vote as too close to call.

While British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been busy meeting and greeting people in Singapore for two days and New York has been wheeling out Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Hillary Clinton and boxing icon Muhammad Ali, the French have kept a surprisingly low profile.

Chirac is expected to appear at the opening of the IOC session on Tuesday evening and will take part in Paris's presentation on Wednesday morning before flying off to join Blair at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

The Paris delegation is well aware that favourites have often appeared jinxed in the past.

Three of the last four votes for Summer Games hosts were won by candidates who had not been considered frontrunners.


Atlanta beat favourites Athens for the right to stage the 1996 Games, Sydney defeated Beijing for the 2000 Olympics and Athens edged out Rome for 2004.

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Winter Olympics votes have been equally unpredictable with Albertville in 1992, Lillehammer in 1994, Nagano in 1998 and Turin in 2006
all relative surprises.

Paris has lost out twice before -- beaten by a distance by Barcelona for the 1992 Games and finishing third behind Beijing and Toronto for the 2008 Olympics.

The French need to improve greatly on their performance four years ago in Moscow when they picked up just 15 of 102 votes in the first round compared with 44 for Beijing.

Under the voting system, the lowest-placed candidate drops out after each round of balloting until one emerges with an overall majority.

This time, most observers expect the decision to go to the wire with four full voting rounds before Rogge announces the decision shortly after 1700 IST.

London is making light of the fact that it has never bid before with Blair pointing to three previous British bids -- Birmingham for 1992 and Manchester for 2000 and 2004.

However, the British also have some ground to make up on past results as none of those bids picked up more than 13 votes.

Blair stressed the cosmopolitan characteristics of the British capital at a news conference on Tuesday.

"London is a vibrant, open city that welcomes all people and all cultures," he said.

New York, also bidding for the first time, was upbeat on Tuesday at an early news conference by former First Lady Clinton.

"This is a great bid from a great city for the greatest international event there is," she said, before adding a reference to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

"We're standing here a little less than four years from the time when we were attacked and we're telling you that New York City is the place to bring the 2012 Olympics -- because the people of New York are resilient, they are extraordinary in their capacity to pull together and plan for the future.

Paul Radford
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