By Duncan Mackay
February 1 - Former Prime Minister Tony Blair (pictured) has been hired as a paid consultant by the organisers of the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro to give them advice on preparing for the Games, it has been revealed.
Blair was offered a consultancy post after Sergio Cabral, the Governor of Rio State, Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva and Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman met him in London on Saturday.
Blair, 56, is widely credited with London being awarded the Olympics after he turned up on the eve of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Singapore in July 2005 and met with nearly 100 IOC members to persuade them to vote for the British capital ahead of the favourite Paris.
It established a blue-print that Rio used for their own bid, during which Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva played a high-profile and vital role.
Cabral said: "Tony Blair is largely responsible for London winning and hosting the Olympics in 2012.
"If London has reached 2010 with everything in place, it is because of the planning and preparation during the period when he was Prime Minister.
"So hiring him provides a great bridge between London and Rio."
It is unclear precisely what Blair's role will be but Cabral confirmed that he will travel to Rio in May to give a speech about the Olympics.
At the end of the meeting Blair was presented by Cabral, Silva and Nuzman with a Brazilian football shirt with his name on the back.
Since leaving office in June 2007 after becoming Labour's longest serving Prime Minister, Blair has made a lucrative living on the lecture circuit.
But he has also established his own sports foundation, which aims to help youngsters in the North East - where his former constituency of Sedgefield is located - and has been mentioned as potentially playing a leading role in England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
Blair's wife, Cherie, a keen sports fan, also played a big role in London's successful bid and established close relationships with several IOC members.
Last month Rio 2016 hired former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a security consultant.
Cabral said he hired Giuliani to help advise Rio on public security work, which is widely seen as one of the potential problems when it becomes the first South American city to host the Olympics.
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January 2010: Rio 2016 team to quiz Blair
December 2009: Rio hires former New York City Mayor to advise on security for Olympics