Soap stars lined up to boost 2012 Olympic bid

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The Independent Online

London's 600-page final bid document, which organisers hope will win them the 2012 Games, is to be formally handed over to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne tomorrow by a 14-year-old Newham schoolgirl. But the immediate battle is not just to win the votes of the 124 IOC members next year but also the hearts and minds of a still sceptical British public.

London's 600-page final bid document, which organisers hope will win them the 2012 Games, is to be formally handed over to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne tomorrow by a 14-year-old Newham schoolgirl. But the immediate battle is not just to win the votes of the 124 IOC members next year but also the hearts and minds of a still sceptical British public.

With an opinion poll indicating that public backing has decreased rather than increased since the bid was announced, London's team are pulling out all the stops. The soap operas Coronation Street and EastEnders are to be part of the campaign: Street stars in Manchester have signed the giant bid flag which begins a nationwide tour this week and a storyline featuring the east London-based bid is planned forEastEnders.

With Paris - the favourites - Madrid, New York and Moscow also delivering their final bid documents tomorrow, and with the restrictions on international promotion now lifted, London will be "soft soaping" the 10-strong IOC evaluation commission when itvisits in February.

John Jarvis, the former chairman of Hilton International and the British Hospitality Association, has been recruited by Lord Coe, the bid leader, as a "super-schmoozer".

Although there are strict rules on entertaining - the IOC must pay their way and not receive gifts which could be interpreted as bribes - Mr Jarvis will oversee a four-day visit likely to include a soirée at 10 Downing Street with the Prime Minister. Organisers plan a dry run using a shadow team of inspectors led by Craig Reedie, the British Olympic Association chairman, who was a member of the team that awarded the 2008 Games to Beijing.

Another recruit is the American Jerry Anderson, a senior partner in the stadium design and event planning company HOK Sport, which is working on the blueprint for the proposed Olympic stadium and other venues. Mr Anderson has advised organisers of the Olympics in Atlanta and Sydney and claims that London is already ahead.

"I am very impressed with the progress," he said. "Plans are at the same stage as they would be a year into full Olympic mode and are at a parallel with Beijing's masterplan. This bid is really rock solid. There is a depth of knowledge and professionalism we don't see in other bids.

The bid document is to be handed in at the IOC headquarters by the junior basketball international Amber Charles. Yesterday the document was accompanied by the 17-year-old Olympic boxer Amir Khan as it travelled through London during the Lord Mayor's Show. The choice of youngsters is said to reflect the bid's focus on youth and ethnic diversity. But with the bookmakers William Hill taking "hardly any" bets on second favourites London, Lord Coe and co still have it all to do.

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