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IOC Opens Meeting to Choose 2012 Olympic Host City


World leaders and athletes from the five cities competing to host the 2012 Olympics have brought their campaigns to Singapore on the eve of the International Olympic Committee's vote. London, Madrid, Moscow, New York and Paris are vying for the honor.

Technical staff finish the final details of the session room where five cities will make their best effort to persuade Olympic Committee members to choose their city to host the 2012 Olympics
The five cities bidding for the 2012 Summer Olympics intensified lobbying Tuesday as the International Olympic Committee meeting opened in Singapore. The 116-member IOC will announce the winner Wednesday.

The IOC had previously praised London and Paris for their "very high quality" and "achievable" bids, but officials said Monday the race was still too close to call.

In Singapore on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a passionate plea for London to win. "The spirit of London 2012 would be the best of the spirit of the Olympic movement. [We have] a love of sport, a belief in the ability of sport to bring people together, to educate, to enhance people's lives and a complete determination that if we are fortunate enough to host the Olympic games we'll build something that doesn't just last for a few weeks of the games but for a generation to come," he said.

London has already held the games twice.

French President Jacques Chirac arrived in Singapore Tuesday to bolster the Paris bid. The French capital lost its campaigns for the 1992 and 2008 Olympics, and last hosted the games 81 years ago.

New York - which has never hosted the games - is also waging a strong campaign. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says New York showed its strength after the September 2001 attacks, and deserves to host the world biggest sporting event. "We are united in the ways that America and New York can only do when our backs are to the wall. You saw us like an athlete who fell and got back up and ran even harder," he said.

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Queen Sofia are spearheading Madrid's campaign. If successful, the Spanish capital would be hosting the games for the first time.

Moscow's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, said the race is very tough, but he remains optimistic. Moscow last hosted the Olympics in 1980, while still the capital of the former Soviet Union. The United States boycotted the games there to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

The candidate cities make their final presentations on Wednesday morning; the vote is scheduled for the afternoon.

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