London offers incentives package to win Games

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The Independent Online

Leaders of London's Olympic bid attempted to gain an advantage over rival cities yesterday by announcing a multi-million pound benefits package for all 202 competing nations.

Leaders of London's Olympic bid attempted to gain an advantage over rival cities yesterday by announcing a multi-million pound benefits package for all 202 competing nations.

London 2012 pledged a large contribution to athletes' costs, ranging from training camps and airfares to telephone calls and restaurant bills. The details were intended to impress delegates at a meeting of international sports federations in Berlin that a London Games would ensure the best provision for athletes, participating nations and sports administrators.

The boldest and most controversial aspect was a $50,000 (£27,000) credit to be redeemed at approved training camps in the UK proceeding the Games.

A similar scheme was introduced for the Salt Lake City games, when it was a front for bribery. But London's proposals have been approved by the anti-corruption unit of the International Olympic Committee on the grounds that no cash will change hands.

Privately some members of the IOC suggest that London may be "sailing close to the wind" in an effort to trump its rivals.

The Berlin meeting, attended by around 40 of the 117 voting members of the IOC, has seen a change in tactics with bidding cities stressing specific benefits to Games' participants.

London also unveiled a package of benefits to Olympic athletes. Since 2000 host cities have felt obliged to offer free economy flights but London would enhance this with fully flexible tickets worth an estimated £10m.

Each athlete would get a $100 telephone card and there would be a discount card for all members of the "Olympic family" entitling them to 20 to 50 per cent off at selected restaurants, shops and theatres.

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