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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
London bid chief hits back
Keith Mills and Barbara Cassani
Mills will handle the details while Cassani fronts the bid
The newly-appointed chief executive of London's Olympic bid has rejected the charge that the capital has already fallen behind its rivals for the 2012 Games.

Keith Mills, the man behind British Airways' air miles scheme, was confirmed on Friday as the campaign's most senior full-time official.

And his first task was to respond to accusations that London is lagging behind Paris and New York.

"I think that January is the first milestone we have to hit," the 52-year-old told the BBC. "All of the cities have that to hit, so I don't think we're behind at all."

Uefa's Mike Lee has also been handed a key post by Barbara Cassani, London's bid chairman.

Lee, who was responsible for corporate communications and external affairs for European football's governing body, becomes director of communications and public affairs.

Mills, 53, is the brains behind the Nectar loyalty card.

He has the skills to run the bid and win the support of the sporting community
Barbara Cassani on Mills
Cassani said she was "delighted" he had accepted the position of chief executive.

"In business, he has proved he is able to take a concept and turn it into a worldwide reality," she said.

"He has the skills to run the bid and win the support of the sporting community."

Mills emerged from a background in advertising and marketing to launch Air Miles in the mid-1980s.

He is married with two children and is a keen sailor - he was one of the crew which won the Clipper round-the-world yacht race in 1999.

Mills has less than two years to achieve his aim, with the decision on the 2012 Olympics due to be taken by the International Olympic Committee in July 2005.

London bid chief executive Keith Mills
"We will win this bid - I can promise you"

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