Coe plays down talk of Madrid alliance

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The Independent Online

Coe was in bullish mood five days ahead of the vote in Singapore but London's bid chairman would not be drawn on efforts by supporters to forge an alliance with rivals Madrid. However, he confirmed that he had become good friends with key figures in the Spanish city's campaign including the former IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, and his son Juan Antonio Samaranch junior, a leading executive on Madrid's bid team.

It is understood senior figures backing London have held talks with Madrid supporters to try to persuade them to switch to London if they are knocked out in the earlier rounds.

Speaking from Sentosa near Singapore, Coe said: "London has an outstanding chance of winning. My gut instinct is that the presentations are going to be important. Some members have openly said to me they will make their judgement on the presentations.

"We've had two or three days where there have been no distractions to get the presentation together. I don't want to be sitting up at 4am on Wednesday wondering about what the narrative is."

Asked about a possible alliance with Madrid, Coe said: "This is not an issue, not up for discussion. If you mean do I have a good relationship with the Madrid bid, then yes I do. But that's historic - the former president of the IOC is a close friend. His son in the last year or so has also become a good friend. But I worked closely with all the bids - we have to know what is happening out there."

New York and Moscow are also in the running and Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, reiterated his belief that it will come down to a handful of votes when the 115 IOC members go to the ballot boxes. Rogge said: "It is only a gut feeling because I don't know what is in the minds of the International Olympic Committee members, but I think it will come down to less than 10 votes, maybe as few as five or six.

"For the first time we have five cities all capable of hosting excellent Games. It will be very, very close. It might be something like 1993, when Sydney was elected ahead of Beijing with only two votes difference - that tells you how close it can be sometimes."

Once the voting begins one city will drop out in each round until a candidate polls an overall majority of members' votes.

Rogge expects to announce the winning city at around 12.30 BST. Advance parties from the five bidding teams have been arriving in Singapore to put the finishing touches to their presentations to IOC members and prepare last-minute lobbying.

New York's bid team flew into Singapore at dawn yesterday before heading straight to the Raffles complex where they were a visible presence.

"New York's Olympic dream has now entered its final six days and we feel great about our chances," New York City deputy mayor and NYC2012 founder Dan Doctoroff said.

"We are excited to be in Singapore to share our city's story and how powerful an Olympic Games on the New York stage would be.

"Our team looks forward to sharing our vision for the Olympic Games with the IOC. With a great delegation presenting an excellent plan we are confident we're in a strong position to win. We haven't come this far to finish second."

The Paris team, considered favourites, has chief executive Philippe Baudillon already on site. French president Jacques Chirac will be joining Baudillon and Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe in Singapore and will feature in Paris's presentation on Wednesday.

Madrid's advance party has also set up camp and will be joined by Queen Sofia, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, bid chief Feliciano Mayoral and former IOC president Samaranch tomorrow and Monday.