A blistering tirade by Cherie Blair, the wife of ex-British premier Tony Blair, against French president Jacques Chirac played a key role in winning the Olympics for London, organiser Sebastian Coe has claimed.
In extracts from Coe's book published in the Times on Monday, the former London Organising Committee chairman revealed that Mrs Blair rounded on Chirac at a crucial Olympic reception over comments he made about Britain's cuisine.
The leader's wife went at Chirac "like a banshee" at the 2005 event in Singapore, causing the embarrassed French leader to leave the function before he had chance to lobby potential voters on behalf of the Paris 2012 bid, said Coe.
"I spotted Cherie heading like a heat-seeking missile towards the French contingent," he recalled.
"Above the hubbub her voice rang loud and clear. 'I gather you've been saying rude things about our food', she said, at a volume that would have done justice to a packed courtroom.
"Her husband, who could hear as well as I could, had assiduously turned away," added the former Olympic champion.
Three days earlier, Chirac was heard telling Russian leader Vladimir Putin and German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on the sidelines of a meeting in Russia that "you can't trust people who cook as badly as that".
"After Finland, it's the country with the worst food," he said of Britain.
Coe believes that Chirac's hasty exit from the Singapore event gave Tony Blair more time to press London's case, according to extracts from "Running My Life".
Paris arrived in Singapore as favourites to secure the 2012 summer Games but was edged out by London in the final eliminator by 54 votes to 50.
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