By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
September 1 - Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair, widely credited with having played a decisive role in London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, has revealed in his new autobiography published today that he initially feared that the capital would be "humiliated" by France.
Paris entered the race as the clear favourites and, right up to the moment when International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge announced London had won on July 6, 2005, few believed Britain's bid could overcome the French capital.
The fact they did win was largely down to the relentless charm offensive launched by Blair and his wife, Cherie, on IOC members.
That included Blair travelling to Singapore for a final period of intense lobbying and then returning home on the eve of the final vote because he was hosting the G8 Summit at Gleneagles.
But Blair also claims that Jacques Chirac’s arrogance may have been an important factor.
Blair writes that Chirac arrived at the cocktail party attended by the all the IOC members on the eve of the final vote as if he owned the Games.
He says the attitude of the then-French President and his delegation was: "We are going to win."
Blair writes: "Whereas we played the card, 'We very humbly beg you to accept the service we offer to your grand movement’, all the while conspiring like crazy.
Blair also reveals in his book, "The Journey", that a decisive role may have been played by Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who had promised him that he would do what he could to help London's bid.
Blair writes: "I went to visit him [Berlusconi] in Sardinia and asked him for his help."
London beat Paris by four votes and Italy has five IOC members.
Blair also pays tribute to David Beckham's role in the successful bid, calling him "a complete pro" in supporting the campaign, including travelling to Singapore for the vote.
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