Jowell v Prescott for Olympic title

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The Independent Online

Another event has been added to the 2012 Olympic Games - the political tug-of-war. It seems there is a tussle around the Cabinet table as to who should be the minister in charge of the London bid.

Originally John Prescott, the heavyweight who backed the bid from the beginning, was earmarked for the role, but the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, who was instrumental in persuading the Cabinet to go for it, seems to have caught the Olympic bug, and would like to hang on to her political power-point. The question is whether she has the muscle, and it is one which no doubt will be posed privately tomorrow, when the Government call their first- ever sports summit to discuss with all involved parties the strategy for the bid and how it should be funded.

Prezza or Tessa will certainly be the talk of the 450-strong get-together at the Institute of Directors, where Jowell, Sports Minister Richard Caborn, bid chairman Barbara Cassani and luminaries from the British Olympic Association and all leading sports agencies and governing bodies will debate how the Games bid should benefit sport in this country.

Jowell will stake her claim for the key ministerial role by reiterating the Government's "total commitment'' to the project and explaining how it will link up with their "wider vision for sport''.

Thetroops-rallying exercise coincides with the official letters of application from the Prime Minister, Mayor Ken Livingstone and the BOA dropping on the doormat of the International Olympic Committee. Accompanying them will be a cheque for $150,000 as a non-refundable deposit which is virtually the down-payment of a bid which could cost up to £30m.

The choice of the IoD seems symbolic, with the emphasis being on the bid getting its financial act together, and sports chiefs will be anxious to know whether the funding promised for the Athens Olympics, which is now causing concern, will come from the Treasury as promised, or will be siphoned from the depleting Lottery funding, which many of the 150 governing bodies present would see as a breach of trust.

This will also be a focal point of the governing bodies' own gathering the next day at the annual conference of their "parliament'', the Central Council of Physical Recreation. Their chairman, Howard Wells, believed to be among the front-runners for the job of chief executive of the London bid - one of the half-dozen posts advertised by Cassani last week - will warn that, welcome as the bid is, there is no real evidence of new money emerging for the basic infrastructures of sport, and that continuing dependence on Lottery money for world-class funding "is not appropriate or sensible for a country bidding for the 2012 Games''.

He will also point out that, without investing in key staff within the governing bodies themselves, "there may not be too many of them around by 2012 to play a significant role in support of the Olympics''.