He may have been referred to as the 'ringmaster' of Formula One over the years, but Bernie Ecclestone now has the chance to influence the destiny of the five most famous rings in the sporting world.

According to Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, F1's commercial chief has been invited to weave his magic over the UK's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The capital city has made it through the initial bidding stage, but faces stiff competition from Paris, Madrid, Moscow and New York.

Sports minister Richard Caborn, a regular figure on the podium at recent British GPs at Silverstone, has apparently met on numerous occasions with Ecclestone to discuss how he can become involved. Caborn, and others in the bid team, are particularly impressed with Ecclestone's access to ministers around the world, and were further convinced of his promotional powers following last week's F1 parade in London's Regent Street.

Ecclestone's case has been furthered by his working relationship with Ron Walker, who chairs the Australian Grand Prix committee overseeing the annual F1 season-opener in Melbourne, and is also in charge of the city's 2006 Commonwealth Games programme. Walker has also apparently met Caborn, and is thought to have recommended that London install Ecclestone as its bid leader - a role that eventually went to American Barbara Cassani and, subsequently, to former Olympic gold medallist Sebastien Coe, now Lord Coe. The Australian has since suggested that Ecclestone is involved at some level in the bid.

The London F1 event, staged with the full backing of mayor Ken Livingstone, saw Juan Montoya's Williams-BMW carry stickers promoting the Olympic bid.

The five candidate cities now have until 15 November to submit their 'candidature file' to the IOC, which will be analysed in detail by an IOC evaluation commission, which will also visit the bidding venues. A report is due from the committee one month prior to the election, and a final decision on the host city of the XXX Olympiad will be made IOC session in Singapore next July.