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Last Updated: Monday, 14 February, 2005, 07:19 GMT
Blair ponders London 2012 mission
By Francis Keogh

Prime minister Tony Blair
I tell you, if it can be done, he will do it
Tessa Jowell on a Tony Blair trip to Singapore
Tony Blair will consider making a special trip to Singapore in July to boost London's chances before the vote to decide who hosts the 2012 Olympics.

It was thought he would miss the final countdown as he is due to host a G8 summit of world leaders in Scotland.

But he may try to personally showcase the London bid in Singapore first.

"If it's humanly possible for him to get to Singapore for any time at all, then he will," Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell told BBC Sport.

Four other cities are competing to host the Games - Paris, Madrid, Moscow and New York - and the winner will be announced at an International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Singapore on 6 July.

Blair, who was the only leader from the five bidding nations to attend the Athens Olympics last year, chairs the G8 Summit which begins on the same day.

He is a key figure in London's Olympic chances, and a special trip to Singapore - which is eight hours ahead of British time - before the vote would be a significant move.

"That is a matter which is still being looked at," revealed Jowell, who is the government minister responsible for the bid.

"He has been absolutely unequivocal in his support for this. He is passionate about the power of the Olympics to change sport in Britain.

"He is chairing the G8 summit with its absolutely vital issues of climate change and Africa. And when the G8 opens, he must be there. But everybody understands that."

When pressed on whether she believes Mr Blair will make the trip, she replied: "All that depends on the physical logistics.

"I tell you, if it can be done, he will do it, but we still have to establish whether it can be done."

She said it would be "wonderful" if Prince William could also make it to Singapore, although talks on that issue were continuing.

IOC inspectors begin a four-day tour of London on Wednesday, and Jowell is confident despite Paris remaining odds-on favourites with bookmakers to win the vote.

"This is a contest which is wide open. There are five great cities bidding, I believe with absolute passion that London has the best bid," she said.

"London is the greatest city in the world. London will win, and deserves to win."

The inspectors are likely to visit existing venues such as cricket ground Lord's (which would stage archery) and Wimbledon (tennis), plus areas set for redevelopment, including a large swathe of east London where an Olympic Park is planned.

Earlier this year, London's prospects suffered when the Queen reportedly said she expected Paris to win.

There have been more positive signs in recent days, with the Sydney 2000 Olympic bid leader saying the race is actually too close to call.

Paris has also missed out on the chance to stage the 2009 World Swimming Championships after admitting its new aquatics centre would not be ready in time.

Asked if London was her favourite to win, Jowell said: "I should say so. And do I believe London will win? Yes I do.

"I believe we have the strongest bid. Our job between now and July is to build confidence and enthusiasm across the whole country."

Public backing is a big IOC requirement, and while London already has pledges of support from more than 500,000 people, Jowell hopes that figure will top a million by July.

Jowell embarks on a whistle-stop tour of eight venues in the Midlands on Monday as she tries to drum up regional support.

Tessa Jowell
It would be a gift to the next generation of young sportsmen and women
Jowell on London Olympics

Critics question the benefit of a London Games to taxpayers outside the capital, but Jowell said surveys showed 80 per cent of people in Scotland and Northern Ireland backed the bid.

The Labour minister said London's flexible plans would provide a legacy for the whole nation.

Specially designed swimming pools, running tracks and hockey pitches sited in the city for the Games could be moved around the country afterwards, she said.

Jowell is hoping for a trouble-free week and that pressure groups reconsider any protests planned to coincide with the IOC visit.

"I hope that nothing happens and nobody is so foolish to undertake any activity which will undermine the bid's chances," she said.

Report: BBC Sport correspondent Kevin Gearey

Interview: Culture secretary Tessa Jowell

'Why London can win'

Blair sounds 2012 rallying call
16 Jan 05 |  Olympics 2012

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