'Cynical' UK media may lose Olympics for London

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The Olympics might be damaged by British media cynicism if they were held in London, fear the officials who will decide where the Games go in 2012.

The Olympics might be damaged by British media cynicism if they were held in London, fear the officials who will decide where the Games go in 2012.

The International Olympic Committee, which has just completed a four-day evaluation of London's bid to host the event, fears that hostile media here could harm the image of the Olympic movement.

The worries came to light in the course of a formal session on coverage as the evaluation drew to a close yesterday.

Lord Coe's bid team was asked whether the British media's cynicism about the Olympics would abate if London won.

The question - after a week dominated by the row over Ken Livingstone's exchange with a Jewish reporter - reflects the commission's unease at how its visit has been reported.

Even as the body prepared to leave London, its chairwoman, Nawal El Moutawakel, faced questions about whether the Livingstone controversy had damaged the bid's chances of success. But speaking at the end of their whistle-stop four day visit, she denied that it had, and said the trip had been "very constructive".

"We were very, very pleased to meet the Queen, who expressed her support of the bid," said Ms El Moutawakel. "The commission was also very pleased to see the high level of commitment from all the major political parties."

Lord Coe, chairman of London's 2012 Olympic bid, had earlier praised the "Herculean team effort" that had gone into the smooth running of the visit, saying they had "done everything humanly possible" to impress the commission with London's cred- entials to host its first Games since 1948.

The visit, which began on Tuesday, has seen the inspectors attend a string of speeches and presentations, visit existing and proposed sites across the city, and enjoy a high-profile dinner with the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Friday evening.

"This week has gone well," said Lord Coe. "We have enjoyed the test and it has been a thoroughly useful dialogue."

Bookmakers have shortened the odds on London winning the Games to 2-1, with Paris still the marginal favourite. The other candidate cities are Madrid, Moscow and New York, where the commission is due to fly tomorrow. The final decision will be taken in Singapore this July.

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