Russian president to address International Olympic Committee

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MOSCOW, July 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will address the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in English via a video link-up on July 6, the mayor of Moscow said Tuesday. "This shows once again that we will do everything possible, even change traditions, to see Moscow become the capital of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games," said Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who is also a member of the Moscow 2012 Bid Committee. "It is no secret that we are devoted to sport and the Olympic movement."

A spokesman for the Moscow 2012 Bid Committee told RIA Novosti that senior Russian delegates to Singapore had again highlighted that the IOC would be making a historically important choice if it voted for such a unique city as Moscow.

"We have achieved a great deal here in Singapore, and we are sure that by voting for Moscow the IOC can change the city, its population and the world as a whole for the better," Luzhkov said.

Alexander Popov, an Olympic gold medallist in swimming and Russian representative in the IOC, focused on how the Olympics in Moscow would be unique. "The plan for holding the games is virtually perfect, which sportsmen could only dream about," he said.

According to Popov, if Moscow wins, it will be the first time in the Olympic history that all the competitions are held within the limits of the host city. Besides, all the sportsmen will be accommodated in the Olympic Village in the very heart of Moscow.

Popov said that the Olympic River concept, which would see all the venues located along the Moskva River with water taxis providing transport for athletes and visitors, had been drafted to prevent any problems. "Sixty-five per cent of all sports facilities have already been built," Popov added.

IOC Vice President Vitaly Smirnov said Moscow had good chances of winning, before adding that rumors that the decision had already been made were groundless. He said it was impossible to predict which way the voting might go. In his opinion, only one thing that is clear: the Moscow Bid Committee brought it home to people that the Russian capital would be the best choice. "[It is] the best for athletes, best for the Games and best for the entire world," Smirnov said.

Moscow, Paris, London, Madrid and New York are bidding for the right to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The voting will take place at the 117th IOC session, which is being held in Singapore on Wednesday.

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