Olympic evaluators discuss security, political situation as Moscow presses its bid to host 2012 games

Olympic inspectors examined security and political issues Wednesday as Moscow continued to press its bid for the 2012 Summer Games.

On the third day of the IOC evaluation committee's four-day visit, inspectors were scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin and attend a lavish evening reception at the Kremlin hosted by Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

The International Olympic Committee panel was holding closed-door meetings with Moscow's bid team for most of the day Wednesday.

Among the topics to be discussed were the political and economic climate in Russia, as well as the security situation in Moscow, which has endured a spate of terrorist attacks in recent years, including the seizure of hundreds of hostages at a theater.

On Tuesday, the delegation visited site venues around the snowy Russian capital, watching horse jumping, ice skating and indoor cycling among other displays.

Moscow bid organizers say one of the city's strongest selling points is the fact that so many sporting facilities from the 1980 Olympics are still in use.

However, many venues are in relatively poor condition or far from public transportation. One exception is the gleaming new Krylatskoye ice arena, where weightlifting and other events would be held.

Moscow, which is the last of the five finalists to be visited by the evaluators, has long been considered the outsider against Paris, London, New York and Madrid. The full IOC will select the host city on July 6.

"What they saw in New York, Paris, London _ it feels like what we have is much better," Russian Olympic Committee chief Leonid Tyagachev said.

Moscow proposes holding all events within 25 kilometers (16 miles) of the city center under a bid plan focusing on the "Olympic River" concept _ with many venues and the Olympic village located alongside or near the Moscow River, and boats providing transportation. Authorities say the city would have to spend about EUR7.7 billion ($10 billion) to stage the event, most of which would come from private sources.

Associated Press

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