Major lobbies for Manchester games

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CONCERTED lobbying in support of Manchester's bid for the 2000 Olympic Games will be a priority for the Prime Minister during a visit to Barcelona this weekend. Robert Key, the national heritage minister, will also take part in the PR exercise, spending tomorrow and Thursday in the Olympic village backing Manchester's case.

Both are aware this could have been tarnished following the expulsion of British competitors when drug-test results were announced last week.

John Major departs for Barcelona on Friday to offer visible support at a reception for the British team and to assess the facilities that an Olympic host city must offer.

The Prime Minister will discuss the Manchester bid with Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, and up to a dozen committee members, including Richard Pound, the prominent executive board member who yesterday cast doubt on the Olympic future of the expensive equestrian events. Talks are also planned with members of the Manchester Olympic Bid Committee and the mayor of Barcelona. The city spent pounds 4bn on facilities for the Games, but Downing Street said that Manchester already boasted a better infrastructure. In February Mr Major promised pounds 55m to launch the project.

The city, which is competing with Peking, Brasilia, Sydney, Istanbul, Berlin, Milan and Tashkent, has 14 venues that need adapting for Olympic standard competition. A further 16 would be constructed in Manchester and elsewhere in the North-west if the IOC chose Britain in September 1993.

Plans have already been announced for a 17,000-seat indoor sports arena, part of a development at Victoria railway station, which will attract pounds 37m in government aid, and a pounds 9m cycle-racing velodrome, while a contract to build a 60,000 to 80,000-seat stadium is open for tender.

Olympics, pages 26-28