ACCRA, Ghana (AP) – The five cities vying for the 2012 Summer Games courted African support Friday – with New York given a platform to present its revised stadium plans at the last major Olympic gathering before next month’s IOC vote in Singapore.

With less than three weeks to go before the International Olympic Committee announces the host city on July 6, Paris, London, New York, Madrid and Moscow made pitches to the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa.

Each city was allotted 10 minutes to make presentations to the 53-nation African body, and about 20 voting IOC members were in attendance.

It was 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.

The cities sought to play up their ties and solidarity with Africa, a continent which has never hosted the Olympics.

New York’s bid 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.

“It’s great to be here,” New York bid leader Dan Doctoroff said. “A lot of people questioned whether we would be here. But there is one thing you want to know about New Yorkers – we never give up. In just 72 hours, we created a new great plan for our Olympic stadium.”

Track and field’s world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, endorsed the new stadium project Thursday. FIFA, soccer’s governing body, is also studying the plan.

New York expects to submit the final package next week to the IOC, whose executive board must approve the plan before next month’s vote in Singapore.

The strict time limit forced some cities to cut short their planned presentations. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn’t get to speak because of the time restrictions, leaving the podium to Doctoroff, former Mayor David Dinkins and Congo-born NBA star Dikembe Mutombo. “I think we got our main message across, that New York is a place that will welcome athletes, teams, fans from Africa like no other city can,” Doctoroff said in an interview. “We showed how New York will celebrate Africans and African athletes.”

London bid chairman Sebastian Coe pledged support for bringing the games to Africa one day, and said if the British capital gets the 2012 Olympics it would use some temporary venues which could be relocated for sports events in other parts of the world, including Africa.

Coe cited British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s efforts, as president of the G8 nations, to show “solidarity with the whole of Africa on issues such as aid and debt relief.”

Paris officials stressed France’s historic ties with Africa and said their bid project was patterned on the IOC’s blueprint for streamlining the size and cost of the Olympics. Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said the Paris bid was a model for holding the games in less-developed countries.

“We delivered the messages we wanted to deliver,” bid leader Philippe Baudillon said. “We had two main points – the enthusiasm of France for the games and the long-standing relations between France and Africa.”

Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon pointed to geography, noting that if Madrid gets the Olympics they “will be the closest ever held to Africa.”

Madrid also announced that Real Madrid soccer star Raul Gonzalez, Memphis Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol, former Tour de France champion Miguel Indurain and former French Open champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario would go to Singapore to lobby for the bid.

Moscow highlighted its compact bid layout plan and said the games would “help change Russia and the world in an unparalleled manner.”

“Moscow represents a historic choice for the Olympic movement,” Moscow Deputy Mayor Valery Shantsev said. “Russia is a natural bridge between East and West and the games in Moscow would help bring the world closer together.”



AP Sports Writer Stephen Wilson in London contributed to this report.

AP-ES-06-17-05 2036EDT


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