The IOC confirmed today that Olympic inspectors will visit Madrid first in their whistle-stop tour next year of bid cities hoping to stage the 2012 Games.

The Spanish capital will be followed by London, New York, Paris. The reason for the order is purely logistical, an IOC spokesman said.

The evaluation commission's final report will be key to determining the bid winner, to be announced at the IOC session in Singapore next July.

The inspection panel, led by Morocco's 1984 Olympic 400 metres hurdles champion Nawal El Moutawakel, will meet bid leaders and city and government officials during the visits. Its report will study issues such as venues, security, transportation, hotels and financing.The findings are due to be published in May 2005.

The team will visit Madrid from February 3-6, London from February 16-19, New York from February 21-24, Paris from March 9-12 and Moscow from March 14-17.

Meanwhile, boxing hero Amir Khan was today unveiled as an ambassador for London's 2012 Olympic bid. The teenager has already been earmarked as an important figure in the campaign.

Khan, who won silver in Athens, was paraded with other leading members of the bid team at the British Labour Party conference in Brighton this morning, and after receiving a standing ovation from delegates pledged to do all he can to help bring the Olympics to London.

Filed by Mark O'Neill-Cummins