Thu, Jul 17, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Nine cities bid to host 2012 Games

ATHLETIC GLORY Paris and London are the two favorites to win the right to hold the Olympics, although the result won't be announced until 2005


Nine cities have submitted their bids to host the 2012 Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said yesterday.

Havana, Istanbul, Leipzig, London, Madrid, Moscow, New York, Paris and Rio de Janeiro, lodged their bids with the IOC here by the deadline of midnight Tuesday, the IOC said in a statement.

The IOC will make their choice in Singapore on July 6, 2005.

"We are delighted to field such a long list of prestigious cities," IOC President Jacques Rogge said.

"I believe this reflects the strong image of the Olympic Games and the IOC's policy of reinvesting revenues in the staging of the Games and the care for a strong urban legacy," he added.

The next hurdle for the bidding cities is a detailed questionnaire which must be submitted by Jan. 15 next year.

The IOC's executive board is meant to endorse candidate cities in May next year, opening the way for a full-blooded assessment, including visits by an evaluation commission.

"No city will become a candidate until it is selected as such by the IOC executive board in May 2004," the statement said.

Toronto had been expected to enter a bid but pulled out of the race when Vancouver clinched the vote for the 2010 Winter Olympics two weeks ago.

Paris and London are regarded as the favorites but Rogge said last week that Vancouver's victory in the 2010 Winter Games campaign did not automatically preclude New York from staging the 2012 Summer Games.

Rogge disputes the theory that IOC decisions on host cities are driven by geographical rotation.

Observers believe that giving the 2010 games to Vancouver bolsters Europe's chances for 2012 because of a reluctance to give back-to-back Olympics to North America.

Olympic contenders

* Havana

* Istanbul

* Leipzig

* London

* Madrid

* Moscow

* New York

* Paris

* Rio de Janeiro

Rogge has revealed that the field is so strong the IOC might not be able to reduce the number of candidates before the vote in Singapore.

The IOC usually draws up a short-list of candidates who are visited by a special evaluation commission in the months before the vote.

In the race for the 2008 Games -- won by Beijing two years ago -- the IOC selected five finalists from an original field of 10.

An IOC evaluation commission submitted four cities -- Beijing, Paris, Toronto and Osaka -- but Istanbul successfully lobbied the IOC Executive Board to get on to the final list.

Istanbul eventually came second to eventual winners Beijing. It is going to be hard for the IOC to drop any cities this time.

The only realistic candidates who might fail to make the cut are Leipzig and Havana but the IOC is likely to feel it is not worth hurting Cuban and German feelings.

Cities who advance to the final round must make out another cheque for US$500,000. If all nine cities are included, that will mean US$5.4 million for the IOC.

The only comparable contest was in 1997 when a record 11 cities entered the 2004 contest. But the field was reduced to five before the final vote in Switzerland.

A key player in the 2012 race could be the American television network NBC, which was believed to have come out in support of Vancouver winning the 2010 Games.

Last month NBC signed a US$2.2-billion deal to remain America's Olympic network for at least nine more years.

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