Inside Lines: Boris Johnson wants him but running for mayor is a no-Coe area for Seb

 

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The Independent Online

Lord Sebastian Coe is under renewed pressure to stand for mayor of London with Tory grandees believing that such is the capital electorate's high regard for him after 2012 that he would be a shoo-in to succeed Boris Johnson.

Previously the 57-year-old British Olympic Association chief has ruled himself out of running but sources close to the mayor's office have told The Independent on Sunday that Johnson, who says he will not stand for a third term, has confided he sees him as his natural successor. So does the Tory leadership who believe the double Olympic gold medallist is the one candidate who could hold off a strong Labour challenge in the 2016 mayoral election.

Senior Conservative Tory figures, among them his close friend and former judo partner William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, continue to sound out Coe despite his insistence that his future is on the international sporting stage. "I have been asked about this since before the Olympics," the one-time MP for Falmouth has told me. "My answer is consistent. I am no longer interested in a career in politics – just sports politics."

He seems certain to bid for the presidency of the IAAF, athletics' international governing body, next year, a post that automatically would give him a seat on the International Olympic Committee. This could lead to his nomination as a future IOC president – and there is little doubt that eventually overlording world sport would hold greater appeal than running London.

However, there is one possible scenario that might change his mind: his main rival for the IAAF role is likely to be fellow vice-president Sergei Bubka. Should Coe lose out to the pole vault legend it would free him to reconsider London a year later.

Miller's sorry tale

Lord Coe's office at the BOA would be the first port of call should the unthinkable happen and the IOC send out an SOS for another city to step in to host the 2016 Games with even president Thomas Bach admitting the situation in Rio is "critical" because of construction, political and financial problems. But there is no way London will be on the subs' bench.

Former Locog figures say it is neither logistically or physically feasible to stage a re-run at this stage of the Games, with the cost prohibitive, the Olympic village sold off and the stadium converted for football. The situation is dire for the IOC to consider a Plan B, as they did with Athens when Munich was placed on standby. But now only Beijing would have the money and the manpower to come to the rescue at such short notice.

However, despite the concerns of 18 sports federations over yellow-carded Rio's chronic lack of preparedness, relocating the Games is unlikely to happen. Bill Sweeney, the BOA's chief executive who has just returned from Rio, says: "We fully expect Rio to deliver a good Games. Our relationships with the Organising Committee there are strong and we are focused on ensuring Team GB is best prepared to compete in Rio."

Fingers crossed.

Mum's the word

"I'm back," declares Olympic champ James DeGale, swapping promoters after shadow boxing against nondescript opposition in small halls and shopping centres to sign with Eddie Hearn's mushrooming Matchroom for a world super-middleweight title eliminator on the Froch-Groves Wembley Stadium blockbuster bill on 31 May. And it's all down to mum Diane.

He says: "Six months ago I was in a dark place. I went, 'Mum, I've got two properties, a nice car and a pension, so screw this boxing. I'll earn £1,000 a week doing personal training.' She said, 'Don't be stupid.' And she was right. Potentially there's some crazy money to be made. This is going to be fun now."

Obviously mum knows best.

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

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