Clinton, Others Seek to Tilt Olympic Pick for 2012
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Singapore, and tomorrow it will announce which city will host the 2012 Summer Games. The five candidates, including New York, are all world-class cities and they've brought major power brokers along for some intense, last-minute lobbying. Laura Womack reports.
LAURA WOMACK reporting:
Back when the 1984 Olympics were open for bids, Los Angeles was the only contender. Now the Games are considered highly desirable, a way to promote the host city and subsidize new infrastructure. So no less than New York, Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow are bidding on the 2012 Games. Popular opinion ranks Paris and London as the two favorites. Ed Hula, editor of the online Olympic newsletter Around the Rings, outlines their strengths.
Mr. ED HULA (Editor, Around the Rings): Paris is strong because it has an excellent infrastructure, it has a stadium that already exists and it's bid three times. London's strength is the legacy, the excitement that it offers for redeveloping East London and it has a very high level of commitment to the bid from the government.
WOMACK: The media hordes caught a whiff of impending scandal when London's stadium designer said Paris' Stad de France is limited in its ability to host different events. Criticizing competitors' bids is against IOC rules. But the potential row came to naught when the French--who are notoriously subtle diplomats--declined to lodge a complaint. Asked earlier about the competition among the bidders, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delano was non-committal.
Mayor BERTRAND DELANO (Paris, France): (Through Translator) From our part, there's a total fair-play spirit. We are going to continue this way until the last second. To tell you the truth, during the next seven years, we are going to continue to show that fair-play spirit and it's up to you to judge whether everybody else is as exacting of themselves. As far as we are concerned, we are very exacting. We don't have to make an effort to play fair.
WOMACK: In the lobby of the conference hotel, delegates schmooze opportunistically, but the soft jazz coming from the piano bar is at odds with the high-security atmosphere. In fact, security throughout the Raffle City Convention Center is overwhelming. That's because the athletes who are here aren't the stars. Surprisingly for the Olympics, heads of state are. British Prime Minister Tony Blair put in an appearance. Jacques Chirac will be at Paris' presentation to the IOC. The queen of Spain hosted a reception from Madrid. Long shot Moscow has been taking a low-key approach. Alexander Chernov, the head of Moscow's bid, jokes that the IOC shouldn't be dazzled by fame and royalty.
Mr. ALEXANDER CHERNOV (Moscow): We, unfortunately, do not have queens and kings. Something wrong happened to them at the beginning of last century. But we are not bringing celebrities; we're bringing those who can work.
WOMACK: New York has a senator here but no top member of the administration. And Hula of Around the Rings says that may be to the city's advantage.
Mr. HULA: I've talked to some IOC members and they think it's a far better move for New York City to bring Hillary Clinton than it would be President Bush.
WOMACK: Senator Hillary Clinton has the city's campaign speech down pat: `New York City is an Olympic Village every day.'
Senator HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (Democrat, New York): You have eight million people from literally every corner of the globe working together, living together, striving together, attending sporting events together, cheering and booing together. You've got a group of people in New York City that I think is unique in the world.
WOMACK: This last intense effort by New York and the other candidate cities may make the difference. The final count is expected to be very close. IOC members will vote in rounds, with the lowest vote-getter dropped each time, until one city receives an absolute majority. For NPR News, I'm Laura Womack in Singapore.
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