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  Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 15:11 GMT
Redgrave urges Blair support
Redgrave is Britain's greatest-ever Olympian
Redgrave is throwing his weight behind London's campaign
Five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave has made a direct appeal to the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to back a London bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Redgrave, vice-president of the British Olympic Association, says it represents a "stunning opportunity" to transform east London and leave behind a real legacy of sporting facilities.

Redgrave said Blair would miss a fantastic opportunity if he decided against supporting a London bid in January.


A successful bid could help London reclaim its status as the hub of the sporting world
Sir Steve Redgrave, vice-president of the BOA

"To use a rowing analogy, our crew is currently a man light," said Redgrave.

"The man we need on board, and putting his back into it, is the prime minister, with his chancellor shouting encouragement from the towpath.

"Tony Blair has the opportunity to launch a bid to bring the world's greatest sporting event back to this country for the first time since 1948.

"But he needs to decide quickly. A successful bid could help London reclaim its status as the hub of the sporting world.

"If the answer is no, then we'll all move on and do something else, with great regret for a fantastic opportunity spurned."

The 2000 Sydney Games showed Redgrave what hosting the Games can do for a city.

"The Games, which would be centred on the Stratford area of east London, could provide the spark to regenerate an area which has been neglected for decades," he added.

Tony Blair in action for Sport Relief
Blair has to decide whether to lend government support to London's Olympic bid

"The area would benefit through thousands of new jobs, and the new infrastructure would encourage the relocation of businesses to the area.

"In Sydney, it was hard to imagine that only five years before the site had been a derelict munitions dump.

"It is now a gleaming new suburb in the heart of the city - and there's no reason why the same shouldn't happen to the East End.

"We could easily afford it.

"The Arup report put the price of staging the games at 1.8bn, but against that there would be a guaranteed income of 1.3bn, before we include tourism.

"The most pessimistic forecasts say the Games could cost the Government around 50m, but there is every chance that it would make a profit."


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