IOC prepares to choose 2012 Summer Games host 

Five candidate cities go to Singapore for vote next week

The countdown is on for those cities waiting to hear which one will host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

International Olympic Committee officials will decide July 6 in Singapore.

There is no doubt it has been the Olympic race of the century with many of the world’s top cities vying for the right to host the Summer Games.

Competing are New York, Paris, London, Moscow and Madrid.

Currently Paris, the French capital, appears to be out front. It has been the favourite since the race began close to two years ago.

The city last hosted an Olympics in 1924. It tried for both the 1992 and 2008 Games but lost out both times.

Paris campaigners say their bid’s main strength is that up to 90 per cent of the infrastructure, stadiums, public transport and buildings is already in place. The city’s assets are a good public transport network, cultural and tourist attractions, and sufficient accommodation.

Earlier this month the IOC released its evaluation commission report on all the contenders. In the 123-page document it said Paris offered "excellent accommodation" and a high capacity and quality transportation system.

It also stated that Paris had taken into account the IOC’s framework for controlling the cost and size of the Olympics.

Recently five major French trade unions also lent their support to the bid. No doubt welcome news to the IOC after strikes and street protests against government policies in March crippled public transport – raising fears a repeat could happen if Paris hosted the 2012 Games. Unions were protesting government-backed plans to roll back France's 35-hour work week.

IOC voting does take into consideration more than just the criteria investigated by evaluation commissions. IOC members will also consider geopolitical and other issues not covered by the report.

Paris, for example, may have to deal with the fallout from France’s rejection of the proposed European Union constitution. The "no" vote could have an impact on the 34 IOC members from EU countries.

And Madrid has its own set of political issues to deal with. Recently a bomb exploded outside the stadium that would host the Spanish city’s opening and closing ceremony. The Basque separatist group ETA warned officials about the blast before the bomb went off.

At the time Madrid Mayor and bid leader Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon told a daily Spanish paper that, "No decision of the IOC, of the United Nations or of the European Union can be influenced by terrorists acts."

The Spanish capital beat Seville in the race to be Spain's bidder. Madrid's only previous attempt at an Olympic bid was for the 1972 Games.

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