Without a large injection of cash, London’s creaking transport system could lose it the right to hold the 2012 Olympics
If London wants to outshine Paris and New York to win the right to hold the Olympics in 2012, it should take a close look at how Athens has prepared for this summer's Olympics. One of the most vital lessons to be learned from the Greek's experience is the need for an extensive and totally integrated transport system.

The Greek government may have left it late, but with six weeks to go all the stadiums and infrastructure are now in place. Athens has invested massively in transport projects to cope with the mass influx of athletes, media and spectators. The city now boasts a new international airport, as well as new motorways, trams and an extension to the metro and suburban railway.

London's proposed transport links pale by comparison. Stratford is at the centre of the London bid, and its links with the rest of the city are not yet up to scratch. Although there will be 10 railway and tube lines running through the Lee Valley there is not one that provides a fast connection with the heart of London.

The £11bn Crossrail would have been the perfect solution. It would have taken athletes and spectators from Heathrow to Stratford via the City and the West End on speedy trains. Unfortunately, the chances of it being built by 2012 are virtually non-existance. A £5bn funding gap and reluctance by the government to give the project the go-ahead means Crossrail probably will not be completed before at least 2115. A golden opportunity missed, and an error that the International Olympic Committee will have marked down as a foul in the competition between London and its rivals.

Overall, the IOC ranks London third out of the five cities on the shortlist: Paris, New York, Moscow and Madrid are the others. Transport scores badly and it certainly will not gain points for experience in holding past events. The dithering over whether Wembley should hold athletics, football or both would have contributed to the low rating as would have the government's failure to provide an athletics stadium at Pickett's Lock in time for the 2005 World Championships.

London has time to buck up its ideas. Cities with a poor IOC ranking have gone onto to make a late charge and win the right to hold the Olympics, including Greece. If London is to do the same it must convince the IOC it is serious about getting people to the venues as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

If Crossrail is a non-runner, Sebastian Coe and his team must lobby government like mad to improve existing links including the forgotten North London Line and the delay-riddled Jubilee Line tube.