Ministerial team to press case for Games

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THE Prime Minister is to take a full ministerial team to the Barcelona Olympics when they begin later this month, to press the case for Manchester to host the games in 2000.

John Major met Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, at Downing Street yesterday where the seriousness of Manchester's bid - and the Government's backing for it - was underlined.

The Prime Minister's press office said that the talks centred not just on Manchester's desire to have the games, but on how the IOC wants to see them develop over the next decade and on what Manchester would need to make a successful challenge.

Mr Major will then visit the Barcelona games, which begin on 25 July, accompanied by Michael Howard, Secretary of State for the Environment; John Redwood, Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities; David Mellor, Secretary of State for National Heritage; and Robert Key, Mr Mellor's under-secretary.

As well as lobbying for Manchester, the ministers will also attempt to learn what needs to be done to press Manchester's case.

They will look particularly at the infrastructure Barcelona has provided for the Olympics, to assess what improved facilities - sporting and otherwise - Manchester will need to stage the event eight years from now.

As this is Manchester's second bid - and with the city claiming to have learnt a lot from its first attempt - yesterday's meeting and the decision to send a full ministerial team to Barcelona was seen as underlining the Government's desire to see the city succeed this time round.