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2016 Games bid cities launch final year of campaigning

Four cities vying to host the 2016 summer Olympics throw themselves into a final year of hectic campaigning to convince the IOC their bid has what it takes.

ATHENS // Four cities vying to host the 2016 summer Olympics throw themselves into a final year of hectic campaigning today to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) their bid has what it takes to deliver a successful Games. The bidding cities; Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Chicago and Tokyo should not be affected by the current financial crisis after securing funding. The IOC will elect the winning bid at its session on Oct 2 next year in Copenhagen, Denmark. London will stage the 2012 Games.

Each city must submit a candidature file, a detailed description of its project by February 2009 and then host an evaluation commission visit in the spring. The commission reports to the IOC a month before the vote. "There is a long road ahead and we will be using every hour of every day between now and Copenhagen to achieve our ultimate objective," the Tokyo bid leader Ichiro Kono said. "We have the concept, team and resources to succeed."

All bid leaders have been closely watching the global financial turmoil wondering how it will affect a multibillion Games budget should their city win. Beijing poured in more than US$40 billion (Dh146bn) to host the Olympics in August. "While Tokyo 2016... are concerned by the world wide issue of the banking and credit crisis, the finances for our bid are all in place so there is no negative impact on the Tokyo 2016 project," he said.

The IOC President Jacques Rogge said this week the crisis would not affect the London Olympics or the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. All four cities are locked in a tight race with very little separating them. Chicago is hoping a new US president, to be elected in November, will boost the city's chances by attending the IOC session for the first time. The Democratic candidate Barack Obama has spent much of his political life in Chicago.

The city, though, still needs to iron out details for its Olympic village. Madrid has been working to make its bid more compact. "The infrastructure is ready and 70 per cent of the other work required is in place," the bid leader Mercedes Coghen said today. Rio, after hosting successful Pan-American Games last year, wants to become the first South American city to host the Olympics, a sentimental point that has some resonance within the IOC.

The bid leader Carlos Nuzman's has IOC membership, which is a plus, and the Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is very vocal in his support for the bid. *Reuters

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