NEW YORK – Calling New York the "perfect place" to hold an Olympics, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) joined former Olympians and city officials Tuesday at a rally promoting the bid for the 2012 Summer Games (search).
"If you walk along the streets of New York you will see the faces and hear the accents of the entire world," Rice said.
New York is competing with Paris, London, Moscow and Madrid, with Paris regarded the front-runner. A decision by the International Olympic Committee (search) will be announced July 6 in Singapore.
"The Olympics summons the best in us," Rice told reporters. "It summons the highest calling to be excellent at what you do. Likewise, this city is emblematic of that because people from all over the world, from all ethnic backgrounds and nationalities have come to New York over the centuries and worked hard to achieve what they have achieved."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Rice's visit to City Hall will send a "powerful message" to the IOC that the city's bid has the "full and wholehearted support of the United States government."
Rice and Bloomberg were asked several times why President Bush was not traveling to Singapore, unlike leaders of some other countries vying for the games. Bloomberg cited security and other logistical issues, but noted the president will appear on video during the city's presentation to the IOC.
"I think you will find the president is among the strongest possible supporters of the 2012 bid and that will be evident in Singapore," Rice said.
The rally in City Hall Park featured a stage full of Olympic athletes, including former gold medalists Bob Beamon and Oksana Baiul. Many of those cheering and waving flags included union members, who have issued a no-strike promise in 2012 if the city wins the Olympic bid.
The city's effort to land the Summer Games included an 11th-hour change in venues for its planned Olympic stadium.
After state officials balked earlier this month at funding a stadium in Manhattan, the bid committee shifted its focus to Queens. It put together a plan within a week to convert a newly planned stadium for the New York Mets into a temporary Olympic stadium that will hold the opening and closing ceremonies as well as track and field competition.
City officials hope the fast maneuvering will impress the IOC about New York's commitment to host the games.