James Lawton: Why a London Olympics is still a generation away

The word has come down from no one less than Juan Antonio Samaranch, for whom so long the Olympics were a personal fiefdom, an unending red carpet of pomp and privilege. Paris, he suggests, is already past the post for 2012 after two previously solid bids to host the summer Games.

The word has come down from no one less than Juan Antonio Samaranch, for whom so long the Olympics were a personal fiefdom, an unending red carpet of pomp and privilege. Paris, he suggests, is already past the post for 2012 after two previously solid bids to host the summer Games.

This was not quite the impression relayed to the public after International Olympic Committee members came to London recently flickering their eyelashes at their eager suitors.

Of course, events in Singapore, where the decision is due to be announced later this year, might just contradict the former IOC president. But anybody already fantasising about bikini-clad beach volleyball stars decorating Horse Guards Parade should not hold out too much hope. No one has travelled the lush vineyard of Olympics politics more thoroughly than the old man from Barcelona.

The game will be played for some time yet, the shrill claims for the London bid made at last weekend's marathon will no doubt be redoubled.

If the politicians really want to know what they have to do to earn genuine support from the nation they will find no shortage of free advice. Here is a modest few pennies' worth: get the city to work for the people who have to survive it all-year round, and then put into place the beginnings of a proper sports structure throughout the land. Do that, and who knows, some future generation might just come around.

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