Rally promotes NYC as host site
Several athletes will travel to Singapore to push for New York.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lauded New York as a global village of Olympic-sized dreams Tuesday, joining civic officials at a send-off rally promoting the city's bid to land the 2012 Summer Games.
"If you walk along the streets of New York you will see the faces and hear the accents of the entire world," Rice said.
New York is competing with Paris, London, Moscow and Madrid, with Paris regarded the front-runner. A decision by the International Olympic Committee will be announced July 6 in Singapore.
Rice and Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed suggestions that President Bush is skipping the meeting because of his unpopularity abroad or because of frustrations with American foreign policy. They noted that no American president has attended the IOC gathering, and said Bush will participate in the delegation's final presentation by video.
"President Bush is well-loved around the world by some people, and probably not by everybody -- that is true of the heads of every single government," Bloomberg said. "It's an occupational hazard. You can't please everybody."
Dignitaries speak up
Britain's Tony Blair and France's Jacques Chirac are expected to help make the case for their cities, along with Spain's Queen Sofia and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. It is unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will make the trip.
Rice said the president appointed longtime friend Roland Betts to travel to Singapore with the delegation, which features Muhammad Ali among other former Olympians.
The secretary said she does not believe anti-American sentiment hurts New York's chances. She acknowledged that "not everything we've done has been popular," but said millions visit and come to live in the U.S. each year, showing that "America and Americans are well-respected and well-loved around the world."
"If there is any message in the Olympics, it is that it doesn't matter where you come from. You can achieve your dreams if you work hard and if you are tough and if you are persistent, and that's what this city represents," she said.
The rally in City Hall park included free hot dogs for passers-by and a stage full of Olympic athletes. Among them were former gold medalists Bob Beamon and Oksana Baiul, who will go to Singapore to lobby for New York.
"I hope we can get it, let's cheer for it!" Baiul told the crowd of flag-waving supporters, which included members of labor unions who have issued a no-strike promise in 2012 if the city is selected.
The city's effort to land the games included an 11th-hour change in venues for its planned Olympic stadium.
After state officials balked earlier this month at funding a stadium in Manhattan, the bid committee shifted its focus to Queens. It put together a plan within a week to convert a newly planned stadium for the New York Mets into a temporary Olympic stadium that will hold the opening and closing ceremonies as well as track and field competition.
"A few weeks ago, people completely counted us out, totally out. We were going to drop out and that was going to be the end of it," said Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, founder of the NYC2012 bid committee. "That is not the New York way. We are not quitters, we never have been, we never will be."
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.