Blair will fly to Singapore to lobby for London Olympics

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Indy Politics

London's Olympic bid was boosted when the Prime Minister confirmed that he would be in Singapore during the build-up to the vote to decide the host city for the 2012 Games.

The Prime Minister will undertake a gruelling 20-hour round trip to the Far East to lobby on behalf of the London bid for a few hours before he flies back to Britain to host the G8 summit of industrialised nations at Gleneagles.

Mr Blair's commitments as host of the G8 prevent him from giving a presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) shortly before the vote in Singapore on 6 July, the day that the Gleneagles summit starts.

While the leader of the London bid, Lord Coe, is putting the city's case to the IOC, Mr Blair will be on his way back to Britain. He will be in the air when the result of the vote is announced. But on the day before the vote Mr Blair will be pressed into action in a frantic round of lobbying the 118 voting IOC members in the most open vote in recent memory. With rival teams from Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow eager to impress, IOC voters may seek refuge in their rooms at the famous Raffles Hotel, leaving only one social function for lobbying.

Mr Blair is no stranger to IOC members. He and his wife met many of them during the Athens Olympics and on Tuesday the couple renewed acquaintances with the IOC president, Jacques Rogge, at a reception in the Houses of Parliament to celebrate 100 years of the British Olympic Association.

Mr Blair said in the Commons yesterday that London had the "best technical bid" of the five candidates. He added: "We will give the bid every support, we've already been doing that. We will continue to push this as much as we possibly can.

"I think the whole country's behind it, I know that all the political parties are. And I think the British public is enthusiastic about the prospect of hosting the Olympic Games in London."

London 2012 played down Mr Blair's absence on the day of the vote, saying he could be used effectively the day before. However, President Jacques Chirac of France may be able to present to the IOC and still arrive in time for the G8 summit because Paris is scheduled to appear first among the bid cities.

London's delegation in Singapore was further enhanced yesterday with confirmation that the England football captain, David Beckham, will attend the vote. Beckham's support restores the star appeal of the London delegation after it emerged that Prince William would not attend, as previously thought. He will be following the British and Irish Lions rugby team in New Zealand.