London officials: Election won't affect Olympics

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Preparations for the 2012 Olympics will continue "seamlessly" even if there is a change in government after next month's general election in Britain, London organizers said Thursday.

London officials assured the International Olympic Committee that the multi-billion dollar project will not be affected by the May 6 vote, which could lead to the defeat of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his Labour Party.

"The words Olympic Games have not tumbled from the lips of a single politician in this campaign," London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe said. "It's not become a political football."

Organizers also unveiled the London Olympics mascot to the IOC executive board, but details were kept under wraps until an official unveiling in the next two months.

"You are going to love it," London chief executive Paul Deighton said.

Brown, who succeeded Tony Blair as prime minister, has trailed in most opinion polls against the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Britain appears headed toward a hung Parliament in which no party will hold a majority.

Coe said organizers have worked hard to maintain cross-party support throughout the bidding and organizing process.

"We will go on delivering seamlessly with whatever the political landscape looks like," he said. "We will continue to build those strong relationships that will help us deliver the project."

A defeat for Labour could lead to the departure of Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, a key figure in London's winning bid campaign and games' preparations.

Coe said that whatever happens in the election, there will be no delays or extended transition period in the Olympic project.

"There can be no time to adapt," he said. "We have very clear timelines. We know exactly what we need to deliver and when we need to deliver. There is an immutable deadline."

London's $14 billion construction budget involves turning a disused industrial area of east London into an Olympic Park featuring an 80,000-seat main stadium and other new flagship venues and facilities.

Despite the economic downturn, London has already raised about $942 million in revenue from its domestic sponsorship program. LOCOG chief executive Paul Deighton said several other deals are in the pipeline.

IOC president Jacques Rogge and his 15-member board, meanwhile, got a sneak peek of the London mascot through photographs and video.

"It was less about revealing the mascot," Coe said. "It was much more about the narrative behind it."

The board enthusiastically gave the mascot its blessing.

"It was very, very well received," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

The exact date for the mascot's unveiling hasn't been determined, but it will be ahead of the two years-to-go celebrations on July 27.

Deighton said the sale of mascots will be an "important driver" in reaching London's merchandising budget of $106 million.

The switch of two of London's sports venues is close to being finalized.

Organizers proposed last year that badminton and rhythmic gymnastics be moved to Wembley Arena in northwest London rather than be held at a planned temporary venue near the Olympic Park in east London. Scrapping the temporary facility would save organizers tens of millions of dollars.

"We believe we are almost at the end of that," IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said. "We still need a little bit of time to finalize it, a few little details to solve."