Olympic Games: Manchester's plan for Third World fund

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MANCHESTER has proposed to create a pounds 16.7m fund to help Third World athletes prepare for the Olympics if it is awarded the Games in 2000. The fund, named the Manchester Millennium Foundation, was proposed by Bob Scott, the head of the Manchester 2000 bid, at the International Olympic Committee meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, yesterday.

'We will provide other National Olympic Committees with that kind of assistance to give their athletes an opportunity to come and train in Great Britain and improve their performances. The funds will be in the hands of an independent body,' Scott said. The plan would be put into practice after the Atlanta Games in 1996.

Manchester's bid is believed to be gaining pace - Scott yesterday described it as turning 'from a dark horse into a leading challenger' - yet fund proposal is by no means unique. Of the other five cities (Sydney, Peking, Berlin, Brasilia and Istanbul) hoping to be awarded the Games on 23 September, Berlin and Sydney have planned similar funds.

Berlin has not stated its fund's size, but Sydney, a favourite to win the bid, did not even believe it necessary to mention such measures. 'It's not new to us. We acted very much as a pilot in this area. We have been doing it before without particular purposes other than to help other NOCs,' John Coates, the head of the Australian Olympic Committee, said.

Peking, the other favourite, yesterday replied to a campaign to damage its bid. The campaign took the form of a letter from Bill Bradley, the New Jersey senator and 1964 Olympic gold medallist, which was distributed among IOC members and which talked of a Chinese government which 'routinely imprisons and tortures peaceful political dissidents'.

Zhang Bai-Ta, Peking's deputy mayor, said: 'Our government has also respected human rights but we have different conceptions and views.' He Zhenliang, the IOC first vice-president and head of the Chinese Olympic committee, said the campaign has failed to impress.

Manchester goes for gold, page 27