MONTE CARLO, Monaco:
Just hours before a decision is made on which of the two bidding cities will host the 2017 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, London's bid team has labelled their proposal as the 'athletes' choice', pointing to more than 100 endorsements from international athletes, agents and track and field insiders at a press conference at the Fairmont Hotel here yesterday.
London is in a close battle with Doha for the right to be named as 2017 World Championships host, but according to chairman of the Bid Committee, Ed Warner, London not only represents what the athletes themselves want, but also a tremendous commercial opportunity for the IAAF.
The IAAF Council is expected to make their decision by 10:30 a.m. today (Jamaica time) and London's message is clear, 'Listen to the athletes.'
"The race for the 2017 IAAF World Championships has gathered real pace over the past few weeks and it's important for our sport globally that it has the attention that the world is showing it," said Warner yesterday. "There are two excellent bids, we have enjoyed the contest with Doha, and there is clearly a very interesting choice for the IAAF Council to make, and I think it's very healthy for the sport globally.
"We are able to announce that 100 of the world's greatest athletes, past and present from all over the world, have committed their support for our bid, and they have all done so freely, because they genuinely believe that the championships should come to London in 2017," Warner added.
Former legends such as Edwin Moses, world record holders like Jonathan Edwards and previous world champions, including Steve Cram and Sally Gunnell, have all stepped in to support London 2017.
They are joined by current-day legends such as Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele, and reigning world champions from the United Kingdom - Mo Farah and Dai Greene, and overseas in the shape of American Carmelita Jeter and Russia's Tatyana Chernova.
The three shortlisted women for IAAF Athlete of the Year, Valerie Adams, Vivian Cheruiyot and Sally Pearson, have also spoken out in favour of London.
"What we will say to the IAAF Council tomorrow (today) is please listen to the athletes because our sport is at its best when athletes are able to give of their best and perform at the highest level," Warner noted.
"Right at the heart of our bid are the athletes. We have been very clear from the start in our minds that we had to put together a championships for athletes and for athletics, in which the voice of athletes are heard and which will reflect what they believe is right for the championships in the structure and organisation," Warner pointed out.
Switching his attention to the commercial value of hosting the championships in London, Warner said: "Ask any sponsor or broadcaster. In fact, if they were to vote, the decision would unanimously fall in our favour."
Warner will present the bid in Monaco alongside the London 2012 chairman and the IAAF vice-president Lord Coe, London's mayor Boris Johnson and the sports minister Hugh Robertson. They will be joined by the Olympic Park Legacy Company chair Baroness Ford, who will attempt to reassure the IAAF that the track will remain in place, after earlier discussions around removing it.