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Last Updated: Monday, 4 July, 2005, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Blair beats drum for London bid
Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives in Singapore
Prime Minister Tony Blair has embarked on a hectic trip to Singapore as he lends his weight to London's bid to win the race to host the 2012 Olympics.

Mr Blair said: "I think London's bid is fantastic, we're really proud of it.

"It's got the support of the British people, of all the political parties, and the country's right behind it."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide on Wednesday whether London, Madrid, Moscow, New York or Paris will stage the Games.

Paris remains the favourite to be awarded the host contract, but London's odds have been shortened, with observers suggesting the British capital has closed the gap.

Members of the London team said the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park at the weekend demonstrated the capital city's ability to host major events.

Mr Blair arrived in Singapore on Sunday, and will leave shortly before Wednesday's vote - flying back to host the G8 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland.

"We think it would be a great Games for the athletes," he said.

"It'll leave a legacy not just for sport in the UK but for the Olympic movement as well and that's important.

"I look forward in the next couple of days to talking to as many people as possible and just stressing the commitment to and our pride in the bid.

This is the last lap, the final push - there is absolutely everything to play for
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell

"I think it is recognised by everyone now as a very very strong one."

Mr Blair joins a heavyweight line-up of politicians, sportsmen and women and others either arriving or already in Singapore to lobby for the London bid headed by Lord Sebastian Coe.

It includes England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and his captain David Beckham, and Sydney 2000 heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis.

Double Olympic decathlon champion Daley Thompson, another of the ambassadors for London's bid, said: "You only have to look at Live 8 over the weekend.

"We are really great at organising those things because the centre of, I believe, the world's media is in London.

"We can set up the next five, six, seven Games for the IOC and really get the youth of the world involved in it."

Culture, media and sport minister Tessa Jowell said on her departure: "This is the last lap, the final push - there is absolutely everything to play for."

She added that "the political stability in Britain post-general election and also the strength of the Prime Minister" could well work in London's favour.

Heavy hitters arriving

The other cities have also been bringing out their heavy hitters in Singapore.

French president Jacques Chirac and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov will take part in the final presentations for Paris and Moscow respectively.

Senator Hillary Clinton will also be in Singapore to help bolster New York's campaign, and King Juan Carlos of Spain is also expected to help Madrid's last-minute lobby.

Meanwhile, former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch has said Madrid would be the best hosts of the 2012 Olympics.

The Spaniard told La Vanguardia newspaper: "I said diplomatically that Madrid has a great bid and, in my view, it is the best for the athletes."

Samaranch, who headed the IOC for 21 years, said though he maintained "friendship and some prestige with a number of IOC members," he no longer had any power over members.




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