IF today’s vote on hosting the 2017 world athletics championships were based on straightforward athletic merit then it would be no contest – London is comprehensively an exceptional bid.
Yet up against mega-rich Doha of Qatar, Lord Coe, fronting London’s bid alongside UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner, is caught in a private personal race not of his own choosing.
Sergei Bubka of Ukraine, fellow vice-president of the IAAF and unofficial campaign consultant for Doha, is so desperate to succeed Lamine Diack of Senegal as president that he will stop at nothing to undermine arch-rival Coe. And that means swinging a likely photo-finish today in Doha’s favour.
Three times an Olympic champion – twice on the track and once in the IOC voting lobby in 2005 for hosting next year’s Games – Coe faces his fourth summit ascent.
He may need the finishing kick of Moscow 1980 and the persuasion of Singapore ’05 to break the tape in front.
The private issue with Bubka is one over which a discreet Coe has no control.