London to host 2012 Olympic Games

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Wednesday, July 6, 2005

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London is to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

The announcement was made today by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge following four rounds of voting, penultimately shortlisting London and Paris. 116 members of the IOC in Singapore voted throughout the rounds from a pool of cities comprising of Paris, Madrid, London, New York, and Moscow.

The final tally was 54 votes for London, and 50 for Paris. The voting came after all five cities made their final presentations to the assembled members.

The news was met with screams of joy from the 15,000 people who had gathered in Trafalgar Square in London, while jeers and boos rang out across Paris, as rain began to fall in the French capital.

Former Olympic runner Sebastian Coe, who led the British bid, told BBC Radio Five Live afterwards: "I'm in a state of shock. The whole team has made a fantastic effort. This shows that the United Kingdom is a special place for sport, passionate about sport."

This is the first time the Games will be staged in London since 1948, while this marks the third failure by Paris to host the Olympics. London has hosted the Games twice before, making it the first city ever to host them three times.

The official announcement was given by the IOC at 12:46 BST today, after much speculation. The 2012 London Olympics are widely anticipated to bring about a revival of both sporting culture in England, and the much maligned Docklands area of London, where most main sporting venues will be constructed.

Dignitaries

Present, physically or by video link, were several dignitaries of the participating countries, including the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac, Queen Sofía of Spain, and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

Tony Blair is quoted to have said via a recorded video message "Our vision is to see millions of young people participate in sport and improve their lives. London has the power to make this happen."

Also present with the British campaign team were world famous soccer player David Beckham, athletes Denise Lewis and Sir Steven Redgrave, and Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, who brought with her a message from Queen Elizabeth II:

"I've been impressed by the way everyone has united behind London's bid. As a country we share a passion for sport."

French President Jacques Chriac was also present, along with actress Catherine Deneuve and singer Johnny Hallyday, both French.

"The heart of Paris and the heart of France are beating in unison in the hope of becoming Olympic host in 2012...you can put your trust and faith in France, you can trust the French, you can trust us," he said.

America's assembly consisted of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton and bid leader Dan Doctoroff, focusing on New York's multicultural make up and readiness. Mr. Bloomberg chose to remind the Committee of New York's recovery after the September 11 attacks.

"In our city's darkest hour, we asked ourselves, can we recover? ...New Yorkers stood up then and said, 'Yes, we can recover, we will rebuild and we must continue to welcome everyone.' That spirit will be given to your Games."

U.S. President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton spoke in a recorded video message.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his case in a live video clip, urging the Committee to take advantage of a "unique and truly historic opportunity", and to select Moscow for the games in 2012.

"Moscow is a meeting place of cultures. Moscow is perfectly suited to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games," he said.

Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero from Spain and Queen Sofía argued in favour of Madrid.

"The whole Spanish royal family is convinced that Madrid fully meets the conditions to offer to the world the best Olympic Games," said Queen Sofía.

Questions from the IOC regarding threats from the Basque extremist group ETA drew the following response:

"Absolute security is assured...It's our main priority. Those who have tried to attack our candidacy will see that this is something that is doomed to disappear in Madrid and all of Spain."

Sources

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