Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help
Last Updated: Friday, 18 February, 2005, 21:56 GMT
Royal reception for IOC committee
The Queen welcomes members of the IOC Committee to Buckingham Palace
The Queen has thrown her weight behind London's 2012 Olympic bid by hosting a dinner for the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission.

The 16-strong team, who had earlier met British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street, were invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace.

"Everyone has worked very hard to make this a special occasion," said Palace spokeswoman Penny Russell-Smith.

"The Queen herself has taken a close interest in these arrangements."

Organisers of the dinner pulled out all the stops. The Palace was floodlit with a Royal Standard flying on the roof, while guardsmen in bearskins were on sentry duty.

The Grand Entrance was illuminated by Olympic torch-style lighting with accompanying music from the Coldstream Guards String Quartet.

The 46 guests were welcomed by the Princess Royal, herself a former Olympian and an IOC member, who escorted them to meet the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Next, a dinner of roast fillet of sea bass with wild mushrooms, breast of duck with Bigarade sauce, braised chicory, snow peas, rosti potatoes and caramelised pear tart, with Halal chicken on offer for Muslim guests, was served up in the State Dining Room.

Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks to commission president Nawal El Moutawakel
The PM listens closely to commission president Nawal El Moutawakel

After the meal, the guests retired to the Picture Gallery for coffee and view a collection of Olympic and sporting memorabilia.

The IOC committee's visit to the Palace came to a musical end as they departed to the sound of the Pipers of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

The bid team was in high spirits after the IOC team met Mr Blair and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell hailed the meeting as a complete success.

"They recognise the passion behind the bid but they also understand the legacy - that the investment will change sport in this country forever," she said.

And London's bid chairman Lord Coe is already confident that the inspection team will leave the capital on Sunday with a good impression.

"The three most important factors of an Olympic bid are the financial package, the planning and the site acquisition," he said outside 10 Downing Street.

"On all those three points we're ahead of the game."

Opposition leaders Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy joined Blair at the meeting to demonstrate the cross-party political support enjoyed by the bid.

I have made my position quite clear
London mayor Ken Livingstone

Also present were members of the Cabinet and London mayor Ken Livingstone.

Livingstone has been in the headlines during the inspectors' visit over comments he made to a Jewish reporter.

But on Friday, he told the BBC Sport website he was convinced the controversy would not affect the evaluation commission's view of London's bid.

And at a news conference with Jowell later in the day, Livingstone was again grilled on the issue.

He said: "You should bear in mind that the IOC are not politicians, they are sports people.

"I suspect they don't have the same degree of interest in these matters and what they're interested in is providing a great Games."

The mayor predicted the race to host the 2012 Games was too close to predict.

Statue of an athlete in Trafalgar Square
The statue is part of a drive to raise awareness for London's bid

"At every stage we've strengthened our position. We are in a better position than when we began but it's going down to the wire," he said.

Later on Friday, Livingstone joined bid ambassador Sir Steve Redgrave to unveil a statue of an athlete to represent "British pride and honour" in Trafalgar Square.

Day three of the evaluation commission's visit to London also included a vital presentation on security by Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair.

Blair promised a slimmed-down security operation compared to the 2004 Games in Athens.

But he said this would be compensated for by his force's "unrivalled experience of counter-terrorism work, described recently as the envy of the policing world."

On Saturday - the final day of the visit - London 2012 chief executive Keith Mills will make a presentation on culture and multi-culturalism before Coe's farewell speech.

The commission will also hold its only news conference on Saturday before leaving London on Sunday for New York, the next candidate city to have its bid assessed.

Report: BBC sport correspondent Adam Parsons

Queen to host Olympic bid dinner
09 Feb 05 |  Olympics 2012

E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport