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Chair of the London 2012 bid team, Sebastian Coe, has announced that a controversial programme of financial incentives aimed to help National Olympic Committees (NOCs) has been withdrawn.

The £15m package – which was launched at the SportAccord summit in Berlin – was aimed at assisting NOCs and athletes by subsidising flights, accommodation and the cost of training camps in the UK if London were to host the Games.

The proposals included giving all 15,000 athletes and team members free, open-ended economy class return flights to London at a cost of more than £10m. Coe also offered £30,000 for NOCs towards the cost of using designated training camps around Britain.

However, what started as a public relations coup and possible vote-winner suffered when the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Ethics Commission announced it was to investigate the plans as they were not specifically detailed in the bid book.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said he was keen to avoid “a bidding war” with candidate cities “lavishly making promises”. It was Rogge’s remarks which prompted the change of position said Coe, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live: “If the president of the IOC openly says that he doesn’t want a bidding war, it would rather foolhardy of me not to reflect very clearly on those remarks.”

Coe denied that the move was an embarrassing climbdown and reiterated London’s commitment to a bid with athletes’ interests at its heart.

Coe labelled the decision a demonstration of “mature reflection”, adding he was unaware of any rule transgression, but was keen to avoid “running headlong into confrontation”.

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Chair of the London 2012 bid team, Sebastian Coe, has announced that a controversial programme of financial incentives aimed to help National Olympic Committees (NOCs) has been withdrawn.
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