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Rediff.com  » Sports » France cries foul over London's bid

France cries foul over London's bid

July 07, 2005 16:58 IST

French politicians, media and sports officials cried foul on Thursday over London's snatching of the 2012 Olympic Games from Paris, suggesting underhand tactics may have played a part.

Many congratulated London on its surprise victory. Others said they were convinced Paris's bid was better. Some said London had gone beyond the bounds of fair play.

"An injustice has been done to us by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) members. It's an affront to France," said Francis Luyce, head of France's swimming federation.

Paris bid chief Bertrand Delanoe, the city's mayor, questioned the tactics that helped London win Wednesday's vote in Singapore by the IOC.

"I am simply not sure that we (London and Paris) behaved in the same way as regards the rules of the competition," he told Le Figaro newspaper.

"Our bid was excellent. Our state of mind was really appropriate to sport and the Olympic spirit. Other things brought London victory but I am not sure they are to do with sport."

London won the final vote at Wednesday's IOC session by 54 votes to 50.

"London, the miraculous survivor, led by the charismatic Sebastian Coe, knew how to work every tactic from aggressive marketing to pure rabble-rousing, promising a better a future to the underprivileged youth of the world," sports daily L'Equipe said.

"They overstepped the mark."

The popular Le Parisien newspaper said the Paris team had paid the price for trying to be irreproachable in its tactics.

"For two years London infringed the rules...but each time the IOC forgave the English," it said.

SECRET SERVICES AT PLAY?

Le Parisien said there had been rumours circulating that Britain had employed its secret services in some way to help the bid before reassuring readers there was no proof of this.

"I am incredulous because the French bid was without doubt better," said Bernard Ansalem, head of the French athletics federation.

Trying to explain Paris's third failed Olympic bid in 20 years, many blamed France's inferior lobbying skills and declining political influence in the IOC and the wider world.

France lost out because of a strong U.S., British and Spanish alliance built around the group of nations who backed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, some suggested.

The dynamism of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and London bid leader Sebastian Coe was also compared with the older-looking Paris team and unpopular President Jacques Chirac.

Julien Pretot
Source:
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