Quit sniping, bidders told

LONDON (AP) – With the race for the 2012 Olympics getting nasty, IOC president Jacques Rogge is telling the five bid cities to stop sniping at each other and concentrate on their own campaigns. Rogge will meet today with the bid leaders from New York, Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow to urge them to play by the rules and refrain from dirty tactics. «I would ask them – with no exception – to focus on their own bid, stop looking at what the others are doing and stop bickering and accusing each other,» Rogge said yesterday in an interview with BBC Radio Five Live. «I’m not happy about the atmosphere, and I’d call on the five to behave with respect for each other, fair play and to have a more constructive attitude.» Rogge will hold a breakfast meeting with the bid chiefs in Dubrovnik, Croatia, where they are attending the European Olympic Committees’ general assembly. The cities will each give 10-minute presentations to the congress today. The IOC will select the host city by secret ballot at its session in Singapore on July 6. Paris is considered the front runner by bookmakers, followed by Madrid, London and New York, with Moscow lagging far behind. This is the most star-studded lineup in Olympic bid history, and the atmosphere has been growing increasingly testy. Last week, Madrid made a formal complaint to the IOC ethics commission about the use of French embassies to promote the Paris bid. Other cities have also come under scrutiny for their tactics. The five cities submitted their detailed bid documents to the IOC last month and are now free to launch international promotion campaigns. The cities have expressed frustration and uncertainty over the IOC rules covering the bid process. The use of diplomats for bid lobbying has been a point of contention. The regulations have been tightened since the Salt Lake City bid scandal, which led to the expulsion or resignation of 10 members for receiving improper inducements. IOC members are now barred from visiting bid cities. That puts more pressure on the bid cities to find ways of getting their message across. The IOC ethics commission is in charge of enforcing the rules, which prohibit cities from criticizing each other. Rogge defended the ethics panel’s bid rules. «I think we have the best possible solution,» he said. «What we want is for the bid to be decided on technical grounds. We want to protect the members from all undue courting and wining and dining.» «We have got as close as possible to perfection but we shall always improve because we learn by experience.» Among those attending the Croatian meetings will be the mayors of three cities – Michael Bloomberg of New York, Bertrand Delanoe of Paris, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon of Madrid – and Moscow’s deputy mayor, Valery Shantsev. London Mayor Ken Livingstone will appear in a video message during the British capital’s presentation.