Opinion: Leader - Olympic bid PR can transcend cynicism

If PR is the power of persuasion, what more intriguing example could there be than the battle to bring the Olympic Games to London?

Despite the range of issues - culture, sporting endeavour, security, racism - and all the efforts of individuals across the globe, the destination for the 2012 games will ultimately be decided by 117 members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Come judgement day, their emotions could prove as important as the arguments.

Mike Lee, London 2012's comms director, likens influencing these individuals - without being allowed to meet them - to a multi-dimensional game of chess.

Next week, London's campaign reaches a critical juncture, with 13 members of the Evaluation Commission visiting London to 'kick the tyres' of the bid. It is the final stretch of a comms effort that has affected the careers of many people - from Barbara Cassani to Matthew Pinsent.

As Sydney's successful campaign for the 2000 games showed, the IOC will place great emphasis on indigenous support. Many organisations, British Airways and Transport for London among them, have seriously gone for this bid - and many Brits would dearly love to have the games here.

The consensus among the chattering classes is that Paris has already won, and politicians are manoeuvring to ensure that London is the plucky loser. But five months could prove a long time in the battle for the games.

Unforeseen events could still shift the climate dramatically. Just think of the effect that racist chants during Spain's friendly with England might have had on Madrid's chances.

London has its problems, but there is some evidence that the 'legacy issue' - the regeneration benefits for East London - is increasingly important to the IOC and a worthy counter to Paris's 'virtual bid' smear.

In the spirit of the Olympiad, it would be detrimental to entertain thoughts of defeat before the tape is broken. There is still much to strive for.

News analysis, p19.

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