Inside Lines: From Go to Coe: now Moynihan may get call

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The Independent Online

As a politician, Sebastian Coe knew he would never make prime minister, but at least he is now in a position to reshuffle a cabinet as he formally takes over the London 2012 chair from former airline chief Barbara Cassani. From Go to Coe. Today the former Olympic champion breakfasts with Frost before signing his new £225,000 contract and sitting down tomorrow with his excellent chief executive, Keith Mills, to map out fresh strategies that might yet save London from being lapped by Paris and Madrid. This could mean changes in the bid team, particularly on the 20-strong board. Coe is noncommittal, but admits fresh blood may be needed. He tells us: "There won't be anybody out there who might be able to nudge this bid in the right direction who won't be spoken to." In this respect he could soon be seeking a little help from a friend - his fellow Tory peer Colin Moynihan, the shadow sports minister. A former Olympic medallist who, like Coe, defied Margaret Thatcher to march in Moscow, Moynihan has been a blistering critic of what he says is the Government's lack of passion for the bid, and in a House of Lords debate last week pointed out that London embarrassingly came last of all nine candidates in the IOC evaluation of government backing. "We need to see complete commitment, and the report shows we have not got that. This is a wake-up call. The Government have to raise their game, but my concern is that they already seem to have distanced themselves from it. If I was sports minister there wouldn't be a single day between now and July 2005 when I wouldn't be in my office at 6am working with the Olympic team to see how we can take the bid forward. You don't win the gold medal unless you go that extra yard."

Why axed Rio can blame it on Bin Laden

Usually they blame it on Rio, but who can Rio blame for their shock elimination from the 2012 Olympic race? Bin Laden, that's who. The samba city's exit alongside Havana, Istanbul and Leipzig can be accounted for in one word: security. While Leipzig was considered too small to host a Games, the IOC evidently decided that the others simply could not afford to protect them from Osama et al. By 2012, security costs surely will have escalated to at least three times the $1 billion bill being footed for Athens by the Greek government. The IOC's thinking is that only major economies such as those of Paris, Madrid, London, New York and Moscow can sustain that. The Brazilians, who had been considered to be among the front-runners, were clearly miffed, but they were quickly mollified by a comforting word from Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, and an IOC member. Blatter has assured Rio they will be his preferred choice as South American hosts for the 2014 World Cup, an event where security costs will be nowhere near as crippling.

Is Wembley the way to woo the IOC?

Apart from the hazards of actually getting there, it seems the IOC are not particularly bowled over by the idea of London building an Olympic stadium on a derelict dog track in the East End. So is this the moment for a rethink as well as a reshuffle, with Wembley brought back into play? The new £750m stadium should be up and almost running by the time the IOC inspectors start looking for weapons of mass construction, and surely will impress them as much as Paris's tried and trusted Stade de France or Madrid's Bernabeu. It is certainly worthy of more than being just a resplendent home for a few football matches. Holding the opening and closing ceremonies there, even more so the athletics events, would be worth a few votes from those who think the bid lacks glamour.

It's just a thought, but should London's Olympic planners be redrafting their plans, a footnote on the accessibility of nearby golf courses may be worthy of inclusion.

Not for the IOC's swingers, though some are known to play a mean game. But because by then golf could well be on the Olympic agenda. Although none of the 28 Olympic sports will be dropped for Beijing, this will be reviewed when the vote is taken on the 2012 venue in Singapore next year. While baseball, softball and modern pentathlon have been reprieved for 2008 they remain vulnerable, with golf being pushed hard by sponsors and US television, as well as the Royal and Ancient. Seve Ballesteros believes an Olympic golf tournament would be "a fantastic attraction''. So a discreet mention by London that Wentworth, Sunningdale, Brocket Hall and Royal St George's, Sandwich, are all within driving distance would not go amiss.

One positive aspect about Seb Coe's upgrading is that it will counteract the negativity created in IOC and IAAF circles by the shameful and still unexplained sacking of anti-doping chief Michele Verroken by UK Sport.

This sent out disturbing signals internationally that Britain may be going soft on drugs. Fortunately, Coe's hard-line stance will bring timely reassurance in the corridors of power. It seems UK Sport may have dropped another clanger which may prove unhelpful to the London bid by backing Britain's Dr Sarah Springman to oppose the popular Les McDonald as president of the International Triathlon Union. Canadian McDonald has friends in high places, among them influential IOC vice-president Dick Pound.

Exit Lines

I'd rather be dancing with a woman in a skimpy outfit than getting trodden on by a bunch of sweaty geezers any day of the week. Martin Offiah on tripping the light fantastic in 'Celebrity Come Dancing'... What does Glen McCrory know? Promoter Barry Hearn (boxing record 0-0-0) questions the credentials of the Sky pundit and former world champion (30-8-1)... I shall donate my liver to the cause of the Olympics. Mayor Ken Livingstone says he will be drinking for London in the IOC-frequented bars of Athens.