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Cities making final Olympic pitch

Decision nears for site of 2012 Summer Games

Members of the French team arrive Wednesday for their presentation.


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(CNN) -- After a final, furious lobbying effort by an elite who's who of politicians and athletes, members of the International Olympic Committee are meeting in Singapore to decide which of five cities will host the 2012 Olympic Games.

New York, Paris, London, Moscow and Madrid are vying for the 2012 Summer Games at the IOC meeting in Singapore, with Paris and London widely considered the front runners.

The day-long session began at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. Tuesday ET), with the ceremony to announce the winning city scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET).

Among the dignitaries who have traveled to Singapore to lobby IOC members are British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac, Queen Sofia of Spain and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will address the committee via a live video hookup during Moscow's final presentation, according to the city's bid committee.

London organizers have enlisted the star power of David Beckham, one of the world's most famous soccer players.

The New York delegation is led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and includes Sen. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth and a host of decorated Olympians, including Muhammad Ali, Nadia Comaneci, Ian Thorpe, Janet Evans and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Ali, who won an Olympic gold medal in boxing in 1964, lit the torch at the last summer Olympics held in the United States, the 1996 Atlanta games. Ueberroth was the man in charge of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

New York's bid took a hit last month when a controversial plan to build the main Olympic stadium on the west side of Manhattan was voted down by a state board. However, organizers came up with an alternate plan to build the stadium in Queens and made a last-minute change to their bid.

Cities began making their hour-long presentations to the IOC at 9 a.m. (9 p.m. Tuesday ET).

Paris goes first, followed by New York, Moscow, London and Madrid. Following the presentation, the IOC commission that evaluated the bids will make its final report, before voting begins.

Voting procedure

With IOC members from candidate countries barred from voting in the first round, 100 of the 116 delegates would be eligible to vote, though the total could vary if not all of them attend. If no city gets a majority on the first ballot, the city that received the fewest votes is eliminated and a second vote taken -- a process that continues until a winner is selected.

The eliminated city will be announced between ballots, at which point IOC members from that candidate's country become eligible to vote in later rounds.

In three of the last four votes to pick a host for the Summer Games, the voting went on for at least four ballots. The only exception was in 2001, when Beijing was selected for the 2008 Olympics on just the second ballot.

Among the candidate cities, New York and Madrid have never hosted an Olympic games, though the United States and Spain both hosted the international sporting event during the previous decade (Atlanta in 1996 and Barcelona in 1992.)

Paris has hosted the Olympics twice, but not since 1924. London, too, has twice played host, but not since 1948.

Moscow was the host for the 1980 Olympics, but those games were boycotted by the United States and a number of other countries in protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

London has been boosted by a survey of the world's top sports officials who favored its bid ahead of Paris.

Tight race

The race though is considered too close to call, with Madrid and New York rated strong outsiders.

The survey, by the Web site, found there was little to choose between the bids technically, which means Wednesday's presentations will be "extremely influential" on the thinking of IOC members when they vote later in the day.

"London received the strongest backing, partly on the basis that its presentations were thought to be the most professional of the five bidding cities," said the Web site.

The London-based site surveyed the secretaries general of National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and international sports federations by telephone and e-mail over the past two weeks.

The officials, who work alongside some of the IOC members due to cast the vote in Singapore, were asked which of the contenders they favored and why.

"Of almost 70 NOCs and federations surveyed, London's bid was the clear leader ... with 44 percent of respondents backing its bid, compared with 29 percent backing for Paris, 10 percent each for Madrid and New York and 7 percent for Moscow," said in a statement.

"London received the backing of 31 percent of the federations, compared to Paris's 28 percent, New York's 19 percent and 11 percent backing for ... Madrid and Moscow."

As the clock counts down to the final vote, the lobby at the Raffles City Convention Center, the venue for the vote, has been crammed with representatives of the bidding cities as they make their last-minute appeals.

IOC President Jacques Rogge has insisted all five cities have a chance and the outcome could be decided by just one or two votes after several rounds of voting.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken a prominent role in London's bid, holding a string of meetings with IOC delegates.

"I just want to tell you why I am so passionate about this bid," Blair said at a media event in Singapore on Tuesday, before flying home to host the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland this weekend.

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