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Cities get last shot in Ghana



Published: Fri, June 17, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The will be the final Olympic gathering before the July 6 vote.

LONDON (AP) -- The race for the 2012 Summer Games moves to Africa this week, with the five bid cities taking their campaign to Ghana in the last major Olympic gathering before next month's IOC vote in Singapore.

Less than three weeks before the July 6 decision, Paris, London, New York, Madrid and Moscow have sent top-level delegations to Accra to address the general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa.

Each city will be given 10-15 minutes today to make formal presentations to the body, which represents 53 countries. The audience could include up to 20 International Olympic Committee members.

It's the first Olympic meeting since the June 6 release of the IOC's evaluation report assessing the five bids. Paris, which has been the favorite from the start, got the best overall technical review, but London, New York and Madrid were all rated as worthy contenders.

Expects close vote

IOC president Jacques Rogge said this week he expects the secret vote will be tight, decided by half a dozen votes or so.

Standing most to gain from the Africa meetings is New York, which salvaged an 11th-hour revised stadium project last weekend to keep its bid alive.

The candidacy look doomed after the rejection of a proposed $2 billion stadium on Manhattan's West Side, but, within a week, New York came up with an alternate plan -- a stadium in Queens that would eventually replace Shea Stadium as home of the New York Mets.

"We right now are the athlete who falls, brushes himself off and moves forward more determined than ever," New York bid leader and deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff said Thursday. "That's the New York spirit."

New York gets boost

New York got a boost Thursday when track and field's world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, signed off on the new stadium project.

"We were impressed that in such a short time such an impressive replacement could be found," IAAF secretary general Istvan Gyulai said in Monaco.

New York is also running the stadium plans past FIFA, soccer's governing body. The city hopes to submit the final package to the IOC early next week, Doctoroff said. The revised project requires approval of the IOC executive board before the Singapore vote.

Doctoroff said the way New York overcame the stadium setback offers a powerful new selling point for the bid.

"Nobody else has anything new to say -- we do," Doctoroff told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

"This is a chance for us to establish that we've regained momentum. I can't imagine any city going through a bigger test than we just did. It's a pretty strong statement of our commitment, of our heart and our ability to get things done."




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