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LONDON-The UK government has given its blessing to a London bid for the 2012 Olympics. This will be the third UK bid in recent years after failed attempts by Birmingham and Manchester, but Olympic officials have already said they would look more favourably on a bid from the capital city.

Key to the proposal is a new Olympic stadium and Olympic village in Hackney, east London. To make this viable there will have to be massive investment in transport infrastructure in an area not currently well-served by public transport. But other Olympic events would use existing facilties including football at the new Wembley stadium and tennis at Wimbledon.

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London today welcomed the government’s decision to back the bid. ‘This is wonderful news, not just for the East End, or even for London – it’s great news for the country as a whole,” he said.

The London Development Agency will be responsible for developing the facilities should London win. But it has already begun buying land in the Lower Lea Valley with the purchase of the Hackney Stadium site. LDA Chief Executive Michael Ward said: “A successful Olympics bid will transform a neglected and run down part of east London and kickstart the regeneration of the wider Thames Gateway, creating thousands of new jobs in the process”

The International Olympic Committee will make its decision in 2005, but to win London will have to head off competition from New York; Paris and Madrid.

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