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RIBA supports London's 2012 Olympic Games bid

The RIBA has come out in favour of a London bid to host the Olympics in 2012 and has urged the government to give the idea its full backing.

The institute believes the bid - which can realistically only go ahead with Tony Blair's express support - would regenerate swathes of rundown east London and create work for the capital's architects.

The RIBA has remained undecided on the matter until now, but RIBA London chairman Simon Foxell - speaking at a debate on the subject at Portland Place last Wednesday - highlighted a new official policy.

'The Manchester Commonwealth Games showed Britain that it can pull off impressive sporting events like this and make a success of them.As an institute we are very positive about the Olympics, ' Foxell told delegates.

And he said he hoped the government would help to fund the event, costed by Arup last year at £2 billion. 'London mayor Ken Livingstone has said he will find cash to help the event and it would be good if the government gave it financial backing as well, ' he added.

But the RIBA's head of government relations, Jonathan Labrey, said the institute would respect any cabinet decision, expected this week. 'We see there are also problems with a bid such as 'winnability' and cost, ' he stressed. 'And we can see why the government is concerned not to waste taxes building white elephants that might not be used.'

The government is expected to make a decision after a full cabinet meeting today. However, according to a government spokesman, an announcement might be delayed 'because of Saddam Hussein'.

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