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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 08:11 GMT
The mood in London
London has been festooned with flags to promote its Olympic bid
The International Olympic Committee inspectors move on from Madrid to London this week as they continue their assessment of the five cities battling to host the Games in 2012.

Adrian Warner, of London's Evening Standard newspaper, sums up the mood in the English capital.

How do you think the battle for 2012 is shaping up?

You have to say Paris is the favourite, but I think London is pretty close behind.

New York has made up a lot of ground and is being considered a serious contender now, whereas Madrid is not doing as well as it was before.

I think the decision in Singapore in July will go down to the third round of voting.

It won't be like 2008, which Beijing won in the second round. It will be more like when Athens won the 2004 Games.

It is often forgotten that Rome was the favourite, but Athens came back with a late sprint. That could easily happen here.

What are the main strengths of the London bid?

The biggest selling point is the legacy factor. The IOC would be able to look at the Games and say 'we've changed the face of London'.

Barcelona had a terrible reputation before it staged the Olympics, but look at how they transformed its image.

London has got some sexy venues
If the Olympics led to the regeneration of east London, it would be a massive human achievement.

There are quite a few IOC members who would like that, and Paris or New York could not be changed in the same way.

London has got some sexy venues. The new Wembley will be one of the most modern stadiums in the world and the Olympic stadium would be built specifically for the Games.

The Stade de France in Paris was built for a football World Cup. Without pointing the finger, London must make the IOC question how modern Paris would look in 2012.

What are the weak points of London's bid?

London has got to show that its transport system could cope with the Games.

I personally think it could deliver, especially in August, but getting over the image problem has always been one of London's biggest challenges.

There is no main stadium built yet, and they have got to prove that it is not a 'virtual bid'.

In the past there were the problems over Picketts Lock and Wembley, and London must get the message across that its venues will be delivered and there won't be lots of arguments and controversy.

Will London's bid be damaged by the levels of public support?

Public support is an important issue, but I don't think it should be exaggerated.

As long as the percentage of support in the polls done by the IOC and by London is in the 60s it should not be a problem.

There has been scepticism about the bid in some parts of the UK, but I don't think that will make too much difference.

The IOC members will have noticed the number of British flags in Athens, even at sporting events where British competitors did not do particularly well.

On the night Kelly Holmes won her second gold and Britain's sprint relay team took gold, you could hear the national anthem being belted out. People remember that.

Are you impressed by London's bid team?

Lord Coe is better known than the other bid leaders, but it has not been major sportsmen who have won the Olympics for their city.

He is growing in his role but I think he needs to be a bit more passionate.

The passion came across when he spoke at a conference recently and he needs to do more of that because it will go down well.

There's a lot of good work being done behind the scenes by the chief executive Keith Mills.

He fits into the whole IOC world quite nicely and I gather he's winning a lot of friends.

What will London want to focus on for the IOC visit?

They will be trying to show that the transport system works.

They will also emphasise that the athletes will be very close to the main Olympic complex, and that even if there are a few transport problems they will be able to get around fine.

And they will try to bring out the passion of British sport.

Does the inquisitive British media help or hinder London's bid?

I don't think a tame media helps the Olympics at all.

The Australian media was pretty aggressive in the run-up to the Sydney Games, and it exposed a scandal about corporate tickets.

If it had not done so, we would not have had the same fantastic atmosphere.

The British media would not allow a London organising committee to sit on their hands for three years like the Greeks did. They would be a very good police force.

Is the controversy involving the Mayor and your newspaper damaging to the bid?

I don't think at the moment it will be registering on the radar of any IOC members, including the ones who are here.

But I think London's bid team would be pretty happy if it went away as quickly as possible because it detracts from what they are trying to do.

Will Britain's stand over Iraq hamper the bid?

It might affect some votes, and if someone is going to vote against London they are not going to change their mind now.

But internal politics and sporting issues within the IOC will play a much bigger role in the decision.

That is why we will not know until we get to Singapore who is really going to win it. Anyone who thinks it is all over does not understand the way the IOC works.

What benefits would a London Olympics bring?

There would be a massive benefit to British sport. It would go up the political agenda and decisions would be made regarding grass-roots sport.

The image Britain has abroad is of somewhere that is very quaint and nice to visit but not that modern and does not work very well.

We can change that by welcoming everybody and saying 'we can put this show on'. That would benefit every business up and down the country.

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