Birmingham's sports chief said he believes the city is capable of hosting athletes from as many as nine countries for the 2012 Olympics.

Coun Ray Hassall said “parts of teams” could stay in the run-up to and during Britain’s first games in 60 years. He said: “We can handle seven, eight or nine countries in Birmingham. We’ve got the facilities here.

“The word is on the street for all the countries that, if they want to come and locate here, they’re welcome.”

His comments follow a recent visit to the city by Seb Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee.

The legendary athlete hailed Birmingham as “one of the jewels in the crown” in the sporting world when he met members of the West Midlands Youth Parliament and toured the new £7.5 million Gymnastics and Martial Arts Centre, at Alexander Stadium, on Monday.

The cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture said thousands of sporting stars and team crew members could be put up in the city’s universities’ accommodation.

Then there are the seven world-class venues at: GMAC, the High Performance Centre also on the site of the Alexander Stadium, the NIA, NEC, the Munro Centre at Birmingham University and the Priory in Edgbaston.

He said: “The NEC alone could host a major country for just about everything.”

Another pull, he said, would be the possibility of an Olympic-size, 50 metre pool being built next to the NIA.

During his visit Lord Coe said: “Birmingham is one of the jewels in the crown in terms of sport. Something like 90 per cent of championships that have come to Britain in the last decade or so, have come to Birmingham or the West Midlands so this is an area that really does understand the impact of sport.”

The city has reached memorandums of understanding with the United States track and field team and the national governing body, British Gymnastics.

The councillor confirmed the city was in talks with Jamaica - home to the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt. The 22-year-old sprinter, nicknamed the Lightning Bolt, picked up three gold medals at the Beijing games in the 100 metres, 200 metres and sprint relay.

Coun Hassall added: “At this stage I suspect we’re getting people still looking at what we’ve got. Beijing’s only just finished and some countries won’t make a decision for some time to come.

“What we need is to get countries to come and have a look. Whichever country comes here they will probably find we’ve got some of their population in the city now.”