London 2012: Red carpet and a hard sell for biggest ever gathering of world leaders

VIPs will include the Brazilian president  and China's business leaders

The Brazilian president and Chinese business leaders responsible for £365bn of trade - more than 5 per cent of the countries gross domestic product - will lead the vast influx of world leaders to London in the next 48 hours, for the political and trade jamboree running alongside the Olympics.

Brazil's first female president, Dilma Rousseff, will be among the leaders of the world's fastest growing economies targeted by David Cameron as Britain attempts to claw back some of the £9bn spent on London 2012.

The Prime Minister will host the largest gathering of foreign dignitaries to attend a Games, among them the American First Lady Michelle Obama, who will attend the opening ceremony and meet the Queen and Samantha Cameron.

The unprecedented convergence of "around" 100 heads of state - equivalent to five G20 summits - presents ministers and diplomats with a golden opportunity to sign trade deals.

But the diplomatic sideshow also threatens controversy, as leaders with a less salubrious reputation flock to the capital. Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev, the Eurasian strongman with a questionable human rights record, is due to arrive in London. Also at the Games will be Bahrain's Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, a keen equestrian and head of the country's Olympic committee, who has been accused by opposition activists of torture  - a charge he vehemently denies.  Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda who has been criticised as increasingly autocratic, is also due to attend.

Senior ministers are using the Olympics as the backdrop for a carefully-choreographed diplomatic and commercial charm offensive which Downing Street today said will be centred on 17 separate business summits for 3,000 foreign investors and business partners, starting with a "global investment conference" being held at Lancaster House from Thursday. Prince Charles will then host a drinks reception at Clarence House.

With global competitors such as Russia and Brazil setting up their own "hospitality houses" across the capital, the scene is set for central London to a host a festival of geo-political horse-trading to rival the sporting extravaganza taking place five miles to the east at the Olympic Park in Stratford.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We are using the Olympics to support British business and promote inward investment."

The Foreign Office is confident that the Games will attract the largest gathering of foreign dignitaries to any Olympic tournament with around 110 heads of state expected to visit at some point during the 17 days that the games are on. In contrast, Athens attracted 48 heads of state whilst the last Olympics in Beijing was attended by 82 world leaders.

The potential for an economic windfall from the Olympics was underlined when the Foreign Office today announced its programme for a Chinese trade delegation whose companies generate five per cent of China's GDP - about £365bn.

The 30-strong delegation from the China Entrepreneurs Club will be one of those shown every inch of the vast amounts of red carpet being rolled out on behalf of UK Plc. Alongside a private meeting with the Rothschild banking dynasty and a reception hosted by Mr Cameron, the group will attend an Olympics party hosted by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and a private VIP breakfast with senior British ministers on the morning of the opening ceremony.

The arrival of so many international power players presents the Metropolitan Police's diplomatic protection squads with their largest ever assignment. Among the other leaders attending are the Ivory's Coast's new president Alassane Ouattara, Kenya's Mwai Kibaki. It is understood Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai will also fly in for Friday's Opening Ceremony.

Suites and apartments at London's most expensive hotels have been booked for months by foreign dignitaries determined to be conspicuous on the Olympic party circuit.

All across town countries have rented out exhibition spaces to advertise their wares in the hope that they too can commercially benefit from the Games. Brazil, which will take over from London as the next Olympic host nation, has one of the largest hospitality operations, renting out almost all of Somerset House on the Strand. Ireland, which is still in the midst of a serious financial crisis, has opted for a more affordable venue - a bar next to Kings Cross Station.

Qatar has spared little expense. Despite only sending twelve athletes to the Games, it has rented three floors of the Institute of Engineering and Technology off Savoy Place.


1: IOC officials - Park Lane Hilton. Led by committee president Jacques Rogge, IOC officials have taken over vast sections of the five-star 453-room Mayfair hotel for the duration of the Games. They will be chauffeured in BMWs to Olympic venues.

2: Michelle Obama - Winfield House, Regent's Park (US Ambassador's Residence) Barack Obama's wife has been chosen to lead America's delegation in what is one of her most high profile diplomatic tasks to date. She flies in on Thursday evening and is expected to attend a reception in Buckingham Palace before moving on to the opening ceremony. She will also hold a private meeting with Samantha Cameron.

3: Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian president - Brazilian embassy, Marble Arch. Brazil's first female president is expected to arrive in London on Wednesday. The popular left wing leader will use her visit to see how a city puts on an Olympic tournament. Brazil is the next nation to host the summer Olympics with Rio 2016.

4: Alassane Ouattara, Ivory Coast president - Ivory Coast Embassy, Upper Belgrave Street. The Olympics provides Outtara with a brief hiatus from what has been a turbulent first year in power. Twelve months ago he was barricaded in a hotel surrounded by hostile forces after the Ivory Coast's presidential election descended into civil war.

5: Mwai Kibaki, Kenyan presdient - Kenyan High Commission, Portland Place. President Kibaki won a second term in 2007 amid widespread allegations of voting fraud and irregularities which led to horrendous inter-communal violence across Kenya. New elections are meant to be taking place next year.

6: Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan president - Azerbaijan Embassy, Kensington Court. The increasingly autocratic ruler took over from his father Heydar in 2003. The country has yet to hold a free and fair elections. Critics accuse Aliyev of clamping down on dissent but Baku insists that the country enjoys freedom of speech and a vibrant opposition press.


7: International media - Range of hotels in Bloomsbury. Thousands of journalists are staying in hotels around Russell Square, ranging from well-appointed private members clubs, to university dorm rooms. The Javelin trains bring them from St Pancras to Stratford in seven minutes

8: Olympic Broadcasting Service technicians - Aldgate student halls. The OBS provide feed pictures to all international broadcasters and has hundreds of staff. Some of the technicians are in student halls in Aldgate East, near the curry houses of Brick Lane.

9: Cleaners - Temporary campsite in Stratford. Several hundred cleaners and other staff are staying in a series of temporary cabins just to the south of the Olympic park in Stratford. One worker, from Hungary, told reporters, "It is like a slum inside."

10: Army guards - Tobacco Dock, Wapping. More than 2,500 armed forces personnel drafted in to provide security have set up camp at Tobacco Dock in Wapping - a huge Grade I listed former warehouse. Among their number are several regiments scheduled to be closed in the armed forces review.


11: Coca-Cola - Langham Hotel, Regent Street. The Games' biggest sponsor has booked out the exclusive Langham Hotel on Regent Street for the duration of the competition. Guests will travel down the Games Lanes to Stratford on special buses. The Langham's head bartender has been practising cocktails made from Coca-Cola products.


12: Goygpus, owned by Bill Gates - Royal Docks in East London. The Microsoft founder's 200 foot yacht is rumoured to be heading to the capital for the Games, and may be berthed at the Royal Docks in East London.

13: Ilona, owned by Westfield shopping centre founder Frank Lowy - South Dock of Canary Wharf. This super-yacht has already arrived in South Quay, near Canary Wharf, just a short commute for its owner's new Westfield Stratford City complex on the edge of the Olympic Park.


National venues to entertain dignitaries, athletes, and the public

14: Africa Village, based of 53 African National Olympic Committees - Kensington Gardens
15: Austria House - Trinity House, Tower Hill
16: Belgian House - Inner Temple
17: Casa Brazil - Somerset House
18: Czech House - Business Design Centre, Islington
19: Imagine Denmark - St Katherine Dock
20: French Olympic village - Old Billingsgate
21: German House - Museum of London Docklands
22: Maison D'Haiti - William Road Gallery, Euston
23: Holland House - Alexandra Palace
24: Irish House - Big Chill House in King's Cross
25: Jamaica House - O2 North Greenwich Arena
26: Casa Italia - QEII conference centre, Westminster
27: Kenya House - East Thames, Stratford
28: Kiwi House - Granary Square, King's Cross
29: Nigeria House - Theatre Royal Stratford
30: Russia.Sochi.Park - Kensington Gardens
31: House of Switzerland - Glaziers Hall, Southwark
32: USA House - Royal College of Art, Knightsbridge

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

(Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice