Inside Lines: London Games under scrutiny as sport bigwigs come to town
Sunday 02 January 2011
It may not have registered yet, but this year London is to stage the biggest sporting jamboree outside of the Olympics which follow in 2012.
Westminster will be awash with 1,500 of the world's sporting bigwigs from over 100 federations and 60 nations who will gather to give the capital the once-over before the curtain goes up on the Games. Delegates to SportAccord 2011, the annual convention which brings sport and business together, will include the good (Jacques Rogge), the bad (Sepp Blatter) and the ugly (take your pick) of global sport's leadership.
Getting this event for London was one bid Britain actually won last year and from 3-8 April, the Plaza Hotel, where every room is within sight and sound of the world's most famous alarm clock, Big Ben, will see more politicking, and probably frolicking, than the House across the bridge.
"Why Sport Matters" is the theme of the convention which the London mayor, Boris Johnson, reckons will put £3 million into the capital's economy and bring millions more from contracts for new business and potential major events coming to the UK. Recently, while breakfasting with Lord Digby Jones, the former CBI chairman and ex-Minister for Trade who chairs SportAccord 2011, it occurred to us that the Football Association missed a trick in not asking him to run their show.
An Aston Villa fan (though more a Leicester Tigers man), he sees sport as a catalyst for business development and takes a healthily pragmatic view of its globalisation.
"The argument to take the World Cup to Russia and a Grand Prix to India is unanswerable," he says. "The way to kill prejudice isto inform people – and sport is a wonderful way of doing it."
The convention is also seen as a test event for London's Games transport infrastructure. Let's hope Bob Crow and his un-merry men are feeling more benevolent in the New Year than they were in 2010.
Many Davids, no Goliath
Talking of the FA leadership, what is it with them and the name David? David Bernstein is their chairman of choice, succeeding Lord (David) Triesman.
Other supposed contenders were David Dein, David Sheepshanks and David Gill while Sir David Richards continues to exert influence, as once did David Davies. David Cameron and David Beckham spearheaded the failed World Cup bid. So many Davids when surely what the FA need is a Goliath.
Homecoming for Khan
Amir Khan's next fight will be in Britain. Manchester's MEN Arena has been booked for a fourth defence of his WBA light-welterweight title in mid-April with the American Lamont Peterson, winner of all but one of his 30 bouts, the probable opponent.
"We're looking at a few names but Peterson is the most likely" confirms his father Shah. The plan is for Khan to return to Las Vegas, scene of his pulsating win over Marcos Maidana, for a title unification bout in July against the winner the 29 January Timothy Bradley - Devon Alexander WBO/WBC showdown.
Moving up to challenge Floyd Mayweather Jnr is on the back burner until next year – providing the Money Man is still at large after an upcoming trial on serious assault charges.
Khan has reinforced his commitment to Britain by moving into a sumptuous new house in Bolton, which he designed himself. While he laughs off a challenge from unbeaten fellow Brit Kell Brook, Khan, 24, isn't seeing the funny side of drugs smears that have surfaced in the US after the Maidana victory.
The Argentinian's trainer has labelled him a "cheat" and another former opponent, Paulie Malignaggi, and Mayweather's father Floyd Snr have suggested he has used performance-enhancing substances while training in the same Hollywood gym as the similarly accused Manny Pacquiao, which Khan dismisses.
"It's nonsense. I've never tested positive because I've never taken drugs. I don't need to. I'd be too scared. I'm clean – and so is Manny. It's jealousy."
Younger brother Haroon, who won a Commonwealth Games bronze for Pakistan after being overlooked by England, has undergone an operation on shoulder tendons he tore in his quarter-final bout in Delhi. He is now likely to remain amateur until after 2012.
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