Opinion: Olympic backlash won't be long in coming

I have to confess that I was one of those cynics who thought London had as much chance of winning the Olympic Games for Britain as Birmingham did last time we had a bid.

As a Londoner, I was however delighted to have been proved wrong and - until last Thursday's tragic events - I was thinking how wonderful it was to be in the capital city as we celebrated our win. There was such a positive vibe in town last Wednesday night, and this was reflected in all the newspapers the next day. Even The Daily Telegraph was nice about Tony Blair.

Of course, the Olympics is still cause for great cheer but in the longer term the Mayor of London - whose contribution to winning the bid was underrated - knows that the media could well turn against the London Games. Just look at the stick handed out to the FA over the new Wembley. We haven't even got an Olympic Stadium yet so there are plenty of negative stories just waiting to be written.

The London Olympics organising team, led by Seb Coe, will of course have its own PR team and, together with the Government and the Mayor's formidable forces, will attempt to counter the inevitable negative media onslaught.

The man in charge of London's Olympic PR team, Mike Lee, couldn't be better suited. Since leaving David Blunkett's office a few years ago, he's also worked for the FA and Uefa.

But Tessa Jowell, as 'Minister for the Olympics', is one of the few politicians who still thinks Alastair Campbell would be an asset and it was actually part of her plan to involve him. The Lions tour finally ended any chance of that.

As for Jowell, she was upset not to be handed the health secretary post in the last reshuffle. She will now have to make do with the Olympics job, which is high profile but hardly demanding. Many Labour MPs, however, aren't that happy with this appointment.

They feel it should have been given to someone with a little more media savvy - or at least someone who is not so despised by the tabloids. It may also have been wiser to appoint someone who is genuinely sports mad.

My guess is that the Olympic backlash will be led by the Daily Mail and soon we will be seeing the first stories about how the stadium might not be ready in time. Before every Olympics, the Daily Mail tells us the stadium won't be ready. Athens was no exception.

But Blair needn't worry too much about the Mail, because at least the man in overall charge of the Olympics - Coe - is a Tory.

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