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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Rivals for 2012: London
An aerial view of London's planned Olympic Park for 2012

BBC Sport assesses the strengths and weaknesses of London's bid to stage the Olympics in 2012.

London is facing a tough battle as it attempts to bring the Olympics back to Britain for the first time since 1948.

The city earned great credit in Olympic circles for stepping in at short notice to stage the Games in the aftermath of the Second World War.

But all three of Britain's recent Olympic bids failed, with Manchester losing out to Atlanta for 1996 and Sydney for 2000, and Birmingham beaten by Barcelona for 1992.

London's campaign got off to a slow start as the Government took time to decide whether to launch a bid.

American businesswoman Barbara Cassani guided London safely to the candidate city stage last May, but it ranked only third behind Paris and Madrid.

THE LONDON BID
Main Olympic zone around Stratford in east of the city
Athletes' village on same site as main stadium
80% of athletes to be within 20 minutes of their events
Venues include Wimbledon, Lord's and Wembley
Beach volleyball in Horse Guards Parade
10 rail lines to serve main Olympic zone
There were also concerns about whether Cassani had the contacts and profile to win over the International Olympic Committee members.

In stepped double Olympic gold medallist Lord Coe, who has been credited with giving the bid momentum ahead of the final vote on 6 July.

London received a strong evaluation report from the IOC inspectors, and is now seen as the main challenger to favourite Paris, with Moscow bringing up the rear behind Madrid and New York.

But the report warned that careful planning would be needed to ensure all London's building projects were completed on time, and that transport improvements would need to be fully delivered.

As the battle for 2012 reaches its climax, Coe must convince the IOC members that Britain can be trusted to stage the biggest sporting show on earth.

London made an embarrassing withdrawal as host of the 2005 World Athletics Championships due to a row over the proposed site at Picketts Lock.

LONDON FACTS
Population: 7,300,000
Estimated total cost: 2.4bn
Olympic history: 1908 and 1948
Other bids: 1996 and 2000
(Manchester), 1992 (Birmingham)
Betting odds: 7-4
And the confusion over the rebuilding of Wembley Stadium, along with the failed attempt to host the football World Cup in 2006, also damaged Britain's standing on the international sporting stage.

But London can hold up the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester as a recent British success, and its plans for 2012 are innovative and exciting.

They involve the regeneration of a huge swathe of land in the east of the city, making a powerful case for an Olympic legacy, with main stadium and athletes' village close together.

Existing venues such as Wimbledon (tennis) and Lord's (archery) will also be used, with beach volleyball planned for Horse Guards Parade.

Sailing would take place in Weymouth and the football competition would be taken around the UK, with the final staged at the new Wembley.





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