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Last Updated: Monday, 22 December, 2003, 20:39 GMT
Blair denies 'Olympic pitch'
Prime Minister Tony Blair was accused of contravening IOC rules
Blair was accused of contravening the strict rules for bidding cities
Downing Street has rejected suggestions Prime Minister Tony Blair recently lobbied Commonwealth leaders to support London's 2012 Olympic bid.

Mr Blair made reference to the bid at a 'sports breakfast' he hosted during a summit in Nigeria earlier this month.

The BBC has learned the International Olympic Committee wrote to UK chiefs, suggesting Blair had broken its Code of Ethics.

But a Number 10 spokesman insisted no IOC rules had been contravened.

Mr Blair also gained support from a leading international sports administrator, who was present at the meeting.

Mike Hooper, executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation said: "In no way did he [Tony Blair] push or plug the London bid.

"I was there, I heard what the Prime Minister said."

There are strict rules governing the conduct of bidding cities.

Promoting bids internationally is forbidden until the final stages of the contest.

During his presentation, Mr Blair talked about the 2012 bid in the context of the Commonwealth Games held in Manchester last year.

I don't think there was any breach of the rules
BOA chairman Craig Reedie

"It was partly the success of the Commonwealth Games that inspired our bid for the Olympics," he said.

"It was an extraordinary success not just for my country but for the Commonwealth.

"It generated a huge amount of interest not just in Britain but actually worldwide."

The Commonwealth has 26 votes within the International Olympic Committee and would provide a massive block boost for the London bid, should member countries opt to back Britain.

But British Olympic Association chairman, Craig Reedie, insisted the Prime Minister had not overstepped the mark.

"I do not believe that the Prime Minister made any mistakes," he said. "I don't think there was any breach of the rules."

London 2012 spokesman, Mike Lee, added: "The IOC demands clear and unequivocal support from government, yet when you do that, you are accused of breaking the rules.

"We feel the comments were appropriate in that context and believe no damage has been done to the bid," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

The IOC's letter was addressed to former Olympic rower and current IOC Committee member Matthew Pinsent.

The British Olympic Association replied in writing, explaining Mr Blair's comments.

The IOC has said it now considers the matter closed, but has sent copies of its Rules of Conduct to all competing cities to remind them of the strict guidelines.

Britain faces competition from Madrid, New York and Paris among others to stage the 2012 Games.

BBC Sport's Andy Swiss
"The issue of lobbying for votes has become a sensitive one"

London bid spokesman Mike Lee
"This was a perfectly appropriate comment from a prime minister"

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09 Dec 03  |  Africa
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16 Dec 03  |  Olympics 2012
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16 Dec 03  |  Olympics 2012


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