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Paris Leading Bid to Host 2012 Olympics
Jun 6, 2005 - 3:59:00 PM

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Exactly a month before the vote, front-runner Paris received the best overall review Monday in an IOC evaluation of the five cities bidding for the 2012 Olympics.

Aerial view released by Paris City Hall shows the Champs Elysees avenue covered with an athletic track and other sports venues as part of Paris' bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, Sunday, June 5, 2005. Exactly a month before the vote to decide which city will host the Games, a key report from the International Olympic Committee was to be released Monday June 6, 2005, giving an insight into the strength and weaknesses of each bid. (AP Photo/Guillaume Plisson, Paris City Hall)

London, New York and Madrid also got positive ratings, while longshot Moscow took some criticism.

The evaluation was part of a 123-page report from the International Olympic Committee on the five potential host cities the most competitive and glamorous field in bid history.

The report did not rank the five, but offered an insight into the strength and weaknesses of each. It focused on technical issues such as venues, financing, transportation, accommodations, security and public and government support.

The findings will serve as a guide for the 117 eligible IOC voting members who will cast secret ballots in Singapore on July 6. The vote, however, also will take into account geopolitical and other issues not covered by the report.

Paris has been considered the favorite since the start of the campaign nearly two years ago, and Monday's glowing report only reinforced that status.

There wasn't a single negative word about the City of Light, praising the French capital's sports concept, "excellent accommodation," "high capacity and quality" transportation systems and "well-documented" budget.

The report also noted that Paris had "fully taken into account" the IOC's framework for controlling the cost and size of the Olympics.

Responding to that high praise, the Paris bid committee said:

"Today Paris 2012 is more determined than ever to demonstrate its Olympic commitment, with one sole objective in mind having the honor to be awarded the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games."

London, which has gained significant momentum in recent months, was praised for the "significant sports and environmental legacies" involved in its plans for regenerating the city's rundown east side.

However, the IOC noted that "careful planning would be required to ensure that all facilities are completed on time." It also said that London's improved transportation plans were workable if "fully delivered" before 2012.

"This is a springboard for the next 30 days," London bid chairman Sebastian Coe said. "A good evaluation report on its own is not enough to get you over the line, but we're confident we can build on the momentum this bid has enjoyed over the last year."

The bid report was based on visits to the five cities in February and March by the IOC evaluation commission, headed by Morocco's Nawal El Moutawakel.

New York won generally positive assessments, including one for its potential legacy, but the report cited the continuing uncertainty over its proposed $2 billion stadium on Manhattan's West Side.

The stadium plan suffered another setback Monday when a powerful state political leader, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, rejected a funding proposal for the project.

"This plan is at best, premature," Silver said.

The state board's vote on the plan could still be rescheduled, and the plan could be renegotiated.

The IOC report said "no guarantees were provided" to ensure that the stadium and an international broadcasting center would be built.

Earlier, New York bid leader Dan Doctoroff said he was "absolutely delighted" with the report.

"The report makes clear that this race is neck and neck and that New York is firmly in the top tier," he said. "The IOC report has made crystal clear that we're in a great position to win in Singapore on July 6, so long as the stadium is approved."

Madrid was cited for sports and environmental legacies. However, the report said the city may need to use hotels in towns about an hour away by train to meet Olympic requirements.

Moscow, considered the outsider all along, received the most stinging comments.

"A lack of detailed planning in the candidature file and background information made it difficult for the commission to evaluate the project," the IOC said.

Moscow bid chairman Valery Shantsev played down the criticism.

"We are satisfied with the report," he said at a news conference. "In our opinion the commission (believes) ... that there are five strong bidding cities."

The IOC also commissioned its own public opinion survey, and Madrid came out on top with a 91 percent approval rate in the city and 85 percent nationwide. Paris was next (85 percent-79 percent), followed by Moscow (77 percent-76 percent), London (68 percent-70 percent) and New York (59 percent-54 percent).

British bookmakers reacted to the report by keeping Paris as the odds-on favorite, with Ladbrokes listing the French city at 1-6 and William Hill at 1-4. London was second at 7-2 and 11-4. Ladbrokes had Madrid third at 16-1 and New York fourth at 33-1, while William Hill rated New York third at 12-1 and Madrid fourth at 33-1. Moscow was 100-1 with both bookmakers.

On Sunday, Paris and Madrid staged major street festivals to showcase their bids. The Champs-Elysees was lined with a running track and featured exhibitions of all 28 Olympic sports. In Madrid, more than 1 million turned out for party centered on the main thoroughfare, the Castellana Boulevard.

Moscow last staged the Summer Games in 1980, the United States in 1996 (Atlanta) and Spain in 1992 (Barcelona). Paris, meanwhile, hasn't held the Olympics since 1924, and London not since 1948.


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