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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

IOC's Moscow Return Brings Hopes for 2012

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Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said Friday he hoped this week's International Olympic Committee session, which will elect a new president and choose a venue for the 2008 Olympic Games, will boost the city's Olympic hopes.

Luzhkov said the IOC meeting would give impetus to Moscow's prospective bid for the 2012 Games and plans to host a Formula One Grand Prix.

The IOC's 112th session opens with a ceremony at the Bolshoi Theater on Thursday. On Friday, the IOC is to choose the host city from five candidates — Beijing, Toronto, Istanbul, Turkey; Paris and Osaka, Japan.

Delegates will also elect the successor to Juan Antonio Samaranch as Olympic president next Monday in the same city where he was elected 21 years ago to one of the world's most powerful sports jobs.

"After holding a successful first World Youth Games [in 1998], Moscow has every chance of hosting the adult Olympics," said Luzhkov.

"But so far [the 2012 Games], is just our wish, the wish of Muscovites, supported by our national Olympic committee and the state leadership."

Luzhkov said Moscow was "fully ready" to host the IOC session. Some 4,000 police and security agents would work to ensure the safety of more than 6,000 sporting officials descending on the city where Samaranch was elected president in 1980.

"Juan Antonio Samaranch will leave his post in Moscow, that is his decision," Luzhkov told a news conference. The fact that he would end an often controversial reign in Moscow was "the highest honor" for the city.

Samaranch's final years as president have been dogged by the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, which led to sweeping reform and the expulsion of 10 IOC members for breaking rules on accepting gifts from the U.S. city when it bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

The thorny issue looks set to take center stage again in Moscow, with South Korea's Kim Un-yong, considered a top contender for the Spaniard's post, saying he would reinstate visits to bidding cities if elected.

Samaranch arrived in Moscow Friday, paying a visit to former President Boris Yeltsin the next day to discuss the evolution of the Olympics under his watch.

Meeting in Yeltsin's country home in Barvikha outside Moscow, Yeltsin and Samaranch talked about changes in the Olympics over the years and about Russian athletes, Interfax reported.

Later Saturday, Samaranch helped unveil a new children's tennis complex in Moscow, accompanied by Luzhkov and Russian tennis star Yelena Dementieva. Speaking to reporters, he expressed hope for a one-on-one meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

"I hope such a meeting with take place and that we can discuss the present and future of Russian sports," said Samaranch.

Luzhkov said the IOC session would further enhance Moscow's sporting profile as it embarks on plans to build a top quality racetrack in southern Moscow and host a round of the Formula One world championship, after winning support from the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

"We have said where it will take place and it was approved by Bernie Ecclestone," Luzhkov said. "Work is going ahead with investors, I think it could happen quickly and, if there are no hold ups, we could have Formula One in 2003."

(Reuters, AP)