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Nine cities in 2012 Olympic race

London has vowed to build a new sports complex in the east of the city

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- While sports fans across the globe are looking forward to August's Olympic Games in Athens, the race to host the event in 2012 is already on.

Nine cities have submitted applications to the International Olympic Committee, with Paris, London or Rio de Janeiro strongly favored to win.

The other candidates are Moscow, Russia; Madrid, Spain; New York, U.S.A.; Istanbul, Turkey; Leipzig, Germany; and Havana, Cuba.

Paris and London, which have both hosted the Games twice, were the first to reveal details of the bids on Friday.

London bid leader Barbara Cassani, speaking at a presentation at the Royal Opera House, promised a compact event with 17 sports staged within 15 minutes of a new Olympic village in the east of the British capital, which hosted the Games in 1908 and 1948.

"Our aim is to deliver excellence without extravagance," said Cassani.

Iconic landmarks

As well as a new 80,000-capacity stadium for the athletics events and opening and closing ceremonies, the bid also utilizes iconic landmarks around the city.

The football final would be played at the new Wembley stadium and Wimbledon would host tennis. Lord's cricket ground would stage archery while Horse Guards Parade would be transformed into a beach volleyball venue.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the bid had the government's full support.

"I think we have got the technical bid which will give us, if successful, a tremendous legacy. This bid has the whole-hearted support of the government and parliament and everybody concerned with British politics," said Blair.

The Parisian bid, seeking to bring the Games back to the French capital for the first time since 1924, draws on the city's existing infrastructure and past experience of hosting major sporting events, as well as the lessons of a failed bid for the 2008 Games.

London last hosted the Games in 1948

"We have the know-how of how to organize things on a large scale," said French sports minister Jean-Francois Lamour, a former Olympic fencing champion, at a presentation at the Eiffel Tower.

Total support

"We know how to do it and, what's more, we want to keep on doing it. The government will support the bid to the highest level, right up to President Chirac. It is total support at every level."

Paris hosted the football World Cup final in 1998 and the world athletics championships in 2003, and the centerpiece of the 2012 bid is once again the 80,000-capacity Stade de France.

The Roland Garros tennis complex, the Parc des Princes soccer stadium and the Longchamp race course would also be used, while beach volleyball would be played underneath the Eiffel Tower.

The other cities have not acted as host before, though the United States has been home to the Olympics four times.

They have never been staged in South America -- the closest was in Mexico City in 1968. Europe has hosted it 14 times, including Russia (Moscow in 1980 when it was part of the USSR).

Athens, the host of the first modern Olympics in 1896, will stage this year's Games while Beijing will have its turn in 2008.

The nine initial bids will be vetted by the IOC until May when the body will decide whether to accept them all or trim the field.

The winner will be announced in July 2005.

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