Olympic vote boosts call for reform

By Nigel Morris
Published May 30th 2005 in The Independent
Although Tony Blair appears determined to defend the first-past-the-post voting system for general elections, he has every reason to be relieved that the host city for the 2012 Ol.ympics is not selected on the same basis.

It will be chosen on a variation of the "alternative vote", with the least popular bidders dropping out of the race one by one and their supporters choosing between the remaining candidates.

The winner will be the city that finally gathers 50 per cent support among members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) , who are meeting in Singapore on 6 July.

The Government accepts that London is likely to come second to Paris in the first round of voting, but believes that it can pick up enough backing from supporters of the rival cities, New York, Madrid and Moscow, to come from behind to win.

Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, and Richard Caborn, the sports minister, are mounting a frantic round of shuttle diplomacy to boost support. Between them they will visit 14 countries in the next six weeks, with much of their focus on garnering promises of second-preference votes.

Moscow is expected to go out in the first round of voting, probably followed by New York and then Madrid. London believes it can win over many New York and Madrid supporters. Don Foster, the Liberal Democrats' sports spokes-man, said: "We stand a much better chance of winning on the fairer voting system that's in operation by the IOC. If we win, as a result of that, it's yet another reason why the Government should be looking at a fairer voting system."

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