Blair dents London's games hopes by missing the deciding vote

Tony Blair will miss the vote to decide which city stages the Olympic Games in 2012, denting London's chances of success.

Leaders of the London bid have conceded that the Prime Minister cannot attend the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Singapore on 6 July because it coincides with the start of the G8 summit he is hosting in Gleneagles, Scotland.

The clash is a setback for London's chances because of the positive impact Mr Blair made within IOC circles as the only head of state from a bidding city to attend the Athens Olympics.

The Prime Minister, who as the star of the bid launch at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden last January urged the IOC to "give us a chance", was considered the perfect figure to deliver the final message just before the secret vote.

Bid leaders have not ruled out the possibility of Mr Blair attending the eight-day IOC session earlier. But one voting member warned his absence when each of the five cities makes an hour-long presentation could be critical. Information gathered by bidding cities of the intentions of 117 IOC members eligible to vote suggests Paris holds the lead by just five votes.

The IOC member said: "If it is a close vote - and there is every indication that London and Paris will go head to head - the presence of a head of state in front of the IOC panel could be crucial. He or she stands up and says, 'My government supports the bid and we will be writing the cheques'. You can bet your bottom dollar that [French president Jacques] Chirac will be there."

Leaders of the Paris bid are thought to be going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that M. Chirac - a veteran of three bids - will be at the vote. Paris will make the first presentation and M. Chirac could say his piece and take advantage of the time difference to fly to the G8 summit. That is not an option for Mr Blair as London will make the fourth presentation and would not get back in time.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spain's Prime Minister, is expected to represent Madrid, as are King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia. The Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has said he will attend, hoping to boost Moscow's flagging chances. It is unlikely that President George Bush will be present, although he may not be missed because of the attendance of New York's mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose charismatic presence at a recent meeting of the European Olympic Commission has boosted his city's chances.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor