New York puts hopes on high-profile celebs

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Muhammad Ali are among the city's boosters.
SINGAPORE (AP) -- With its revised stadium plans receiving last-minute approval from the IOC, New York now hopes the star power of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Muhammad Ali can pull in some crucial votes in the contest for the 2012 Olympics.
Clinton flew in Tuesday to join Ali as high-profile boosters for New York, which goes up against European capitals Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow in today's vote by the International Olympic Committee.
"New York City exemplifies Olympic values every single day," Clinton said. "Living in New York is like living in an Olympic Village -- you have every language from every corner of the globe."
Clinton noted that the Summer Games have never been held in New York.
"We have lived the Olympics, now I'd like for us to have a chance to host the Olympics," she said.
Clinton also touched on the spirit of New Yorkers since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"We're standing here a little less than four years from the time when we were attacked and we're telling you that New York City is the place to bring the 2012 Olympics because people of New York are resilient," she said. "They're extraordinary in their capacity to pull together and plan for the future."
Ali, who won a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics and lit the flame at the 1996 Atlanta Games, made a series of appearances with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"I think when people talk about true Olympic champions, there is one name that always comes to mind: Muhammad Ali," Bloomberg said. "He is still with us, and still the greatest and still one of New York's secret weapons."
Ali, who has Parkinson's disease, smiled slightly but didn't speak during a news conference. Later, he walked through the crowded foyer of the hotel adjacent to the IOC conference venue, mingling with IOC members.
New York goes second -- after front-runner Paris -- in the final 45-minute presentations to the IOC, which were to begin Tuesday night. The IOC vote and announcement of the winner take place this morning.
As expected, the IOC's executive board Tuesday approved a recent revision in the stadium plans for New York City's bid.
Overcoming setback
Last month, in what initially seemed a huge setback, state officials rejected a proposed showpiece stadium on Manhattan's West Side. The bid campaign quickly devised an alternative plan to use a less costly stadium in the borough of Queens that eventually would replace Shea Stadium as the home of the New York Mets.
Bid leader Dan Doctoroff called the IOC approval a "great final step."
New York has long been considered to be trailing Paris and London, but Doctoroff said the bid was gaining momentum and victory was possible.
"It's confusing and hard to predict," he said. "This is a completely open race. We feel, based on the feedback we've received from members of the IOC, that we've got a chance."
Clinton, a former first lady, became the top political heavyweight for New York's delegation. Clinton, a potential Democratic presidential candidate, and Bloomberg, a Republican, deflected questions at a news conference about possible political ramifications of the senator's role in the bid campaign.
"This is not a political thing, it's a New York thing," said Bloomberg.

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