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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 18:45 GMT 19:45 UK
Bookies tip Pope for prize
Pope John Paul II
Internet bets put the Pope at 2-1 to win the prize
Pope John Paul II is one of the favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize when it is announced on Friday.

The ailing pontiff at 2-1 has the edge over Czech President Vaclav Havel at 8-1, according to the web-based betting site Centrebet.

The head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, said it was the first time he had seen a bookmaker taking odds on the prestigious prize.

Other candidates include Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (14-1) and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai (25-1).

The field for the 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.32m) that come with the title is especially large this year with a record 165 candidates.

Interest

Pope John Paul, who has also faced speculation in the Vatican and newsrooms around the world that he may not have long left to live, has been credited for his stance on the Middle East and the war in Iraq.

We're offering George W Bush and Tony Blair at 200-1, but haven't had a single bet
Gerard Daffy
Centrebet

He has called for an end to fighting between the Israelis and Palestinians. And before the latest Gulf war he was outspoken in his criticism of the conflict and tried to use his influence to avert it - playing host to key politicians such as UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

But the Pope has been criticised in some areas for opposing use of condoms, especially to slow the spread of HIV/Aids.

Mr Havel helped bring about the fall of Communism in eastern Europe 12 years ago and has remained perennially popular on the international scene, praised as a courageous voice of democracy.

Gerard Daffy at Australian-based Centrebet said there had been a lot of interest in the Pope.

"We're offering George W Bush and Tony Blair at 200-1, but haven't had a single bet," he said.

Other candidates for the prize that was won last year by former US President Jimmy Carter include:

  • Russian anti-war group Mothers in Black
  • Jailed Iranian dissident Hashem Aghajari
  • Russian human rights activist Sergei Kovalyev
  • The Salvation Army
  • The pop group U2's singer Bono
  • Pop singer Michael Jackson.

The winner will be announced on Friday at 0900 GMT.


SEE ALSO:
Vaclav Havel: End of an era
09 Oct 03  |  Europe
Profile: Pope John Paul II
02 Oct 03  |  Europe
Pope calls for Iraqi freedom
20 Apr 03  |  Europe
Viewpoint: 'War was unjustified'
15 Apr 03  |  Middle East


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