THE members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who will meet in Singapore in July next year to decide on the location of the 2012 Olympics will not have an easy task. They will have to project themselves forward seven years to imagine what the world will be like then specifically, whether the open-ended “war on terror” will still be in progress and, if so, how that should affect their choice of the city to host the Games. The Olympics are attractive to terrorists with a cause to promote, as we saw at Munich in 1972; Athens this year must be vulnerable but Beijing in 2008 will presumably be less so for a variety of reasons. Of the short list of five cities for 2012 named this week - London, Madrid, Moscow, New York and Paris - none can be said to be free from terrorist threat although Paris is perhaps the best placed. London and New York will probably be particularly at risk because of the Iraq war and its consequences and Moscow may still have the threat of Chechnyan terrorism hanging over it. Madrid's prospects in this context are still difficult to judge.

In respect of more conventional considerations - finance, infrastructure and public support - Paris and Madrid were placed above London with New York and Moscow in the last two places. However, London's travel facilities were considered by the IOC to be inadequate and well below those offered by Paris and Madrid. This deficiency can be corrected only by an enormous capital investment by the Government and if it is not forthcoming quickly London's chances will be poor, even after the sensible appointment of the Olympic gold medallist Lord Sebastian Coe to take charge of the bid from now on.


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