Moynihan favourite for Olympic job

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The Independent Online

Lord Moynihan remains favourite to defeat his only opponent, the former Olympic hurdles champion David Hemery, in a battle to succeed Craig Reedie after 13 years running Olympic sport in the UK.

Opponents of Lord Moynihan from within Government and the organising committee of the 2012 Games have been dismayed the Tory peer tried to exploit weaknesses in the bid.

There have also been concerns that Lord Moynihan, who served as Conservative sports minister from 1987 to 1990, might use the BOA leadership to push through reforms to the organisation of sport which clash with Government proposals to devolve powers to regional sports bodies. Lord Moynihan has promised to end all front-line political activity if he is chosen for the role.

Concerns for the independence of the BOA were even raised by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, at a farewell reception this week for Reedie. "He asked whether reports were true that the Government were interfering with the election. I said I didn't know if it was happening but if so it was uncalled for and would be counter-productive," Reedie said.

Lord Moynihan has found himself in pole position for the vacancy after the unexpected withdrawal from the race of Sir Matthew Pinsent. The former Olympic rowing champion, believed to have been the first choice of Reedie and the Government, has opted instead to pursue a media career.

Reedie has been re-elected unopposed since his appointment in 1992 and is standing down after a pivotal role in the Olympic bid when he was able to use his contacts as a member of the International Olympic Committee. His successor will be faced with a different set of challenges: as host nation for 2012 there will be no shortage of funds for British athletes. Instead the BOA will aim to maximise the medal haul by supporting the governing bodies from its 35 member sports. The new BOA chairman will also sit on the new organising committee of the Games and will be one of four members of the Olympic Board.

The winner of the secret ballot will be chosen at a meeting of the BOA at the Queen's Club in west London today. The successful candidate requires a simple majority from the electorate of 45 voters, including the leaders of 35 summer and winter Olympic sports.

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