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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 July, 2005, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Heat is on at Olympic vote

By Andrew Fraser
BBC Sport in Singapore

Tension mounts in Singapore
The five bidding nations will discover their fates on Wednesday

Visitors stepping off the plane in Singapore at the weekend were greeted by sweltering temperatures and stifling humidity.

But for the representatives of the five cities vying to host the 2012 Olympics, things are about to get a lot hotter.

The next few days are set to generate the sort of pressure cooker atmosphere usually reserved for the seconds before the gun goes off at the start of a 100m final.

Queens, princes, presidents, prime ministers and sporting legends will all converge on the giant Raffles City Convention Centre as the London, Paris, New York, Madrid and Moscow bid teams flex their muscles ahead of Wednesday's vote.

And 1,200 members of the world's media will be there to monitor their every move.

For the moment, there are plenty of free tables in the lobby bar of the luxurious Swissotel, where the International Olympic Committee members who will decide the destination of the Games are staying.

Strategists and spin doctors stroll around with mobile phones glued to their ears, and bid leaders go about their business relatively unmolested.

By Wednesday there will barely be room to breathe.

The posse of guards who man the security checkpoints at every entry and exit, machine guns slung over their shoulders, demonstrate that this is no ordinary gathering.

There was a taste of things to come on Sunday when British Prime Minister Tony Blair attracted a crowd of onlookers, and the feeding frenzy will intensify once the likes of David Beckham and Muhammad Ali hit town.

The public relations endgame began in earnest on Saturday when the bid teams began to state their cases in front of the world's media, with the rivalry between Paris and London looking set to dominate the news agenda.

While London's bid is a genuine threat, Paris is even more worried about having to face Madrid in the final round of voting

Paris fired the first shot by unveiling film director Luc Besson, who is masterminding the French capital's 45-minute presentation to IOC members before the final vote.

The word is that the man responsible for The Big Blue is planning to rewrite the rule book for formulaic bid presentations, and turn the tide in Paris' favour, although Besson is giving nothing away.

London hit back by producing no less than four Olympic champions for its twin news conferences - bid leader Lord Coe, Denise Lewis, Daley Thompson and Jonathan Edwards.

Coe is in confident mood after spending five days in a nearby island hideaway fine-tuning his presentation, but he knows every word he utters over the next few days could be crucial.

London's team in Singapore
The London team begin their charm offensive in Singapore

The Anglo-French rivalry will go up another notch when French President Jacques Chirac jets in for the Paris presentation.

To avoid having to bump into Blair, Chirac will not spend time pressing the flesh with IOC members, many of whom he knows from his time as leader of the Paris bid for the 1992 Games.

Instead he will concentrate on the potentially crucial presentation, safe in the knowledge that his Euro sparring partner will be in the air on his way to host the G8 summit by the time Coe and co take the stage for London.

While London's bid is a genuine threat, Paris is even more worried about having to face Madrid in the final round of voting.

The Spanish team has a solid technical bid, and a powerful trump card in the shape of former IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch.

The 84-year-old spent 21 years at the helm, and there is a feeling there could be a big swing towards Madrid if he decides to call in a few favours.

New York is still seen as an outsider, but Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe is doing his bit for the bid, and US senator Hillary Clinton has been signed up for the presentation.

As for Moscow, the general feeling is that there is more chance of snow in Singapore than the Russian capital walking off with the host city contract on Wednesday.


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