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This is an archived article published in May 2004. Updated article
First IOC report makes Paris and Madrid
favourites for the 2012 Summer Olympics

By James Monaghan, Feature Editor

In its first technical report on the 2012 Summer Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded Paris and Madrid the overall highest marks. Madrid rated highest in five of eleven categories, while Paris rated highest on security, accommodation and the Olympic Village. London, while also receiving top marks for security, was criticised for its ‘obsolete’ rail transport system. New York City scored highly in most technical aspects but the IOC detected a lack of local support for the Games.

The Games of the XXX Olympiad will be celebrated in 2012. Five cities from the nine Applicant Cities to host them have been accepted as Candidate Cities, it was announced by the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland on 18th May, 2004. These were Paris, Madrid, London, New York and Moscow. The losers were Havana, Leipzig, Rio de Janeiro and Istanbul, the last for the fourth consecutive time.

The decision rested on a technical report based on ten individual criteria - Government and public support, general infrastructure, sports venues, Olympic Village, environmental conditions and impact, accommodation, transport, security, experience and finance - plus the overall project and legacy.

Paris and Madrid were neck-and-neck with an average of 8.5 each out of a possible 11. London got 7, New York 6.5 and Moscow scraped in with 6 – the minimum rating to progress to the candidate phase. Leipzig missed out with 5.5 followed by Rio (5), Istanbul (4) and Havana (3). The Commission had ?great confidence? that Paris, Madrid, London and New York had the capacity to host the games. It was less sure of Moscow and though the other four cities currently unable to handle the games.

Paris and London rated highest on security. Paris rated highest on the overall project and legacy, accommodation and the Olympic Village. It suffered in its plans for transporting athletes between venues and for slow links to the airport.

Madrid rated highest in five of the eleven categories. These included the city centre transport system, an Olympic Village to be sited only a mile from the main stadium, and its positive environmental impact.

London was criticised for its “obsolete” rail transport and congested arterial roads, which led to questions on the estimated travel times and speeds. It also had to improve public support and experience of handling international sporting events other than Wimbledon. London 2012 blamed the quality of its documentation on government delays and seemed confident in being able to address the criticisms. As well as security, London scored highly on accommodation and the proposed Olympic Park at Stratford, which would host 16 sports, as well as the proposed use of Lord’s, Wimbledon, Greenwich and Hyde Park.

New York scored highly in many areas, including accommodation and sports infrastructure, but lost out for lack of support from the public, which worried about overcrowding and traffic problems.

Moscow, in spite of its experience hosting international sporting events, was criticised for security problems and its severe air and water pollution.

Since the announcement, there have been several developments. Rio’s surprise failure to qualify for the next stage means that no South American country has hosted the Olympics in spite of IOC aims to award the Games to alternate continents. London’s Mayor, Ken Livingstone, predicts that many South American votes will go now to Madrid.

In London, soon after the announcement of its success in the first stage of the bidding process, the American-born head of the 2012 team, Barbara Cassani, stepped aside. Although an acknowledged winner at getting new projects off the ground – she was co-founder of the budget airline, Go!, she felt that the next stage, hanging around in exclusive hotels lobbying the elderly gentlemen who cast the decisive votes, should be passed on to someone else more appropriate. She will remain behind the scenes helping to compile the technical details of the ‘bid book, which will form the basis of London’s detailed submission to the IOC in November.

Her successor has more relevant form for the lobbying process. He is Sebastian Coe, Baron Coe of Ranmore, double Olympic Gold Medallist and multiple world record holder. As a British Member of Parliament he was an aide to the former leader of the Conservative Party, William Hague. He became a Lord after he lost his parliamentary seat in the 2001 election. It is said that he is a close friend of the former president of the IOC for 21 years, Juan Antonio Samaranch. He will concentrate in the coming year on jetting to various meetings to persuade what one British newspaper called “the curious mixture of politicians, businessmen, minor royalty and potentates that make up the IOC membership” of the merits of the London bid to host the 2012 Olympics.
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