Hosting the vote is an Olympic sport for Singapore

SINGAPORE (AP) - For Singapore, playing host to the vote for the 2012 Olympics might be the next best thing to hosting the Olympics themselves. 

The city-state won the right to hold the vote by beating out Guatemala City and is using the 117th IOC session as a springboard to promote its own plans. Paris, London, Madrid, New York and Moscow are vying for the 2012 Summer Games, with the winner announced July 6. 

Ng Ser Miang, local organizer of the IOC session and a member of the evaluation committee that visited all five bid cities, said Singapore is expecting 3,000 to 5,000 visitors. 

"Preparations are going on quite smoothly,'' Ng said. "We are ready to receive our first guest.'' 

Muhammad Ali was the latest celebrity to say he will be in Singapore, and the boxing great will be in New York's corner.  

London is relying on England soccer captain David Beckham while Madrid has enlisted Beckham's Real Madrid teammate Raul and former Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain. 

World leaders coming include British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. 

Security will be tight around the Raffles City Convention Center, the site of the vote. Traffic most likely will be rerouted and stringent checks are expected. 

"The organizing committee is working very closely with our security agencies to ensure the safety and security of all visitors coming to Singapore,'' Ng said. 

The country's tourism board has published suggestions on its Web site for locals. Among the advice: Keep your hair neat and smile. 

Other tips on grooming and etiquette from Singapore Airlines have been passed on to the some 500 volunteers staffing the IOC meetings. 

The Singapore Tourism Board expects the meeting to generate about 40 million Singapore dollars (US$24 million, euro19.8 million) in tourism revenue.  

The tourism industry, battered by a 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, will sponsor a three-minute promotional video on Singapore that will be beamed live to worldwide audiences watching the session. 

"Singapore has been working on bringing sports events, marquee events such as this,'' Ng said. 

"This is one of the efforts we have put in, and it has put us in a position to host more such meetings and more sporting events.'' - AP 

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