Coe: London must build a trust fund

Belief in the people behind the bid will be 2012's decisive factor

Around lunchtime on Tuesday London will know whether it is still in the Olympic race. It might even know whether it remains a front-runner, or has fallen behind chief rivals Paris or even dark horses Rio in the bid to be host city in 2012.

Around lunchtime on Tuesday London will know whether it is still in the Olympic race. It might even know whether it remains a front-runner, or has fallen behind chief rivals Paris or even dark horses Rio in the bid to be host city in 2012.

In common with Paris, Rio and six other candidates - New York, Madrid, Moscow, Leipzig, Istanbul and Havana - London has submitted a 50-page "mini-bid" document which has been scrutinised and assessed by a 10-person working group of the International Olympic Committee over the past four months.

Their recommendations will be delivered to the 15 members of the IOC executive committee, including the president, Jacques Rogge, in Lausanne early on Tuesday morning. This jury will then decide who should go forward to contest the final vote in Singapore next June. The expect-ation is that they will eliminate two or three who do not come up to scratch.

It will be a shock of seismic proportions - not least an equally massive embarrassment - should London be one of them. Yet while this is improbable, nothing can be taken for granted in Olympic politics, and one hopes a planned "Celebration at the London Eye" on Tuesday night, culminating in the unveiling of a new London logo incorporating the Olympic rings, will not have to be hastily abandoned.

Far more likely to miss the cut are outsiders Istanbul, Havana and Leipzig. Some some believe that Moscow could go, too, although the IOC must feel reluctant to upset such a big Olympic player as Russia. The IOC may also "grade" the successful candidates in early order of merit, with Rio now reportedly alongside London.

In all, 25 questions had to be answered by the candidate cities, covering proposals on security, transportation, cost and infrastructure. In view of the turmoil that has beset Athens of late there might well have been an additional query: why bother?

The answer, according to double Olympic champion Sebastian Coe, is because it is worth it. He has no doubt London will be on the shortlist, and says there is one five-letter word which sums up why in the end London could get the final nod: trust.

"I think there is now a recognition that we have a serious team with some very focused people on board," he says. "Our major task is to introduce people to us and to allow us to take them into their comfort zone. I am confident we will get through to Singapore, and when the IOC members are sitting there with their fingers poised over the electronic voting pad, we have to have persuaded them that it is us they want to spend the next seven years with.

"Who is it they would feel most comfortable with? Who is it they can trust to deliver? Who is it to whom they can hand over their product and get it back in better nick?

"It is that confidence in us that I want to achieve before they get to that table. I want the IOC to know that we are good people. More than anything, we want them to like us. No one who gets to the business end of this contest is going to have glaring omissions or weaknesses.

"You can't bluff your way through this, so it will only be the serious contenders who are left. All the bids will be technically good, everyone will have made their numbers stack up, so actually it's not that at the end of the day upon which the final judgement will be made. They won't be worrying about legacy or too much extravagance or whether the bid is athlete- centric enough. That won't necessarily get you over the line. What will is whether they can look you in the eye and say, 'Yes, we can work with you and you can deliver'. I believe London can.

"People say it is a straight fight between us and Paris but I think it is far too early to make an assessment. We have to make sure our technical bid is incomparably better than the others, loophole-free, well costed and sound. But the last 40 metres of this particular race will be about trust, the very foundation of the bid."

No doubt similarly convincing arguments will be made in Lausanne by the London bid chairman, Barbara Cassani, and her chief executive, Keith Mills. For Cassani, clearly less than comfortable in the world of sports politics, it is a timely opportunity to forge vital friendships and gain the confidence of the IOC. She needs to go on a charm offensive to win the hearts and minds of those members who say privately that she has yet to convince them of her credibility as the bid figurehead.

It has not helped that since winning a lawsuit against the Daily Telegraph over the publication of remarks she denied making about Tony Blair, the American-born former airline chief seems to have gone media-shy.

She also missed a valuable PR opportunity by not attending the prestigious Laureus Awards in Lisbon last week, where she could have hobnobbed with virtually everyone who is anyone in international sport, including several prominent IOC members. Fortunately, three of her lieutenants, vice-chairmen Lord Coe and Alan Pascoe, and communications director Mike Lee, were on hand.

All are well-connected, and Coe is particularly adept at the glad-handing game. He says: "I sense a real momentum building for London. But votes are not going to be won by pressuring anyone. I have never asked anyone how they are going to vote, even when I was in politics, knocking on doors. You win a bid like this through building good relationships."

Doubtless this will be taken on board by London's leading lady as she flies to Switzerland tomorrow. Seasoned Olympic observers say that, in the sporting parlance, she needs to put herself about more.

Lausanne will provide that opportunity. Because in the end it is Cassani who will carry either the can - or London's Olympic torch.

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