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London wins 2012 Olympics


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LONDON, England (CNN) -- London has defeated European rival Paris to host the 2012 Summer Games, bringing the Olympics back to Britain for the first time in more than half a century.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge made the announcement after IOC members voted 54-50 to eliminate the French capital in the fourth and final round of secret ballots Wednesday in Singapore.

"The International Olympic Committee has the honor of announcing that the Games of the 30th Olympiad in 2012 are awarded to the city of London," Rogge declared after opening a sealed envelope containing the result.

Thousands of people in London's Trafalgar Square cheered as they watched the announcement on giant TV screens. (Full story)

London has twice played host to the Olympics, in 1908 and 1948. It becomes the first city to host the Olympics three times.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair hailed the victory as "a momentous day for London."

London bid leader Olympic gold medalist Sebastian Coe said: "I'm absolutely ecstatic, we have the opportunity to do what we always dreamed about, getting more young people into sport.

"This is our moment. It's massive. It's huge. This is the biggest prize in sport," The Associated Press quoted Coe as saying.

England soccer captain David Beckham said: "In 2012, I can take my children to an Olympics which we might never had had the chance to do. ... This is such a huge lift for our country."

Rogge also expressed joy at London's victory.

"We are very, very pleased with the victory of London," AP quoted the IOC chief as saying. "People we trust, people we know will give us a superb games."

In the French capital, groans of disappointment swept through a crowd of thousands gathered at Paris Town Hall.

It was the third defeat for Paris in 20 years, with bids for the 1992 and 2008 Games also failing.

Moscow, New York and Madrid were eliminated in the first three rounds of voting respectively. (More reaction)

Although it was a favorite, Paris never led throughout the voting, AP reported.

In the first round, London got 22 votes, Paris 21, Madrid 20 and New York 19. In the second round, Madrid had 32 votes, followed by London with 27 and Paris 25, AP said.

In the third round, London led Paris 39-33 after picking up several New York votes. In the last round, Madrid's votes were spread about evenly, giving London enough to win.

Last-minute lobbying

The decision followed a final, furious lobbying effort by an elite "who's who" of politicians and athletes at the IOC's annual meeting.

Among the dignitaries who traveled to Singapore to lobby IOC members were Blair, French President Jacques Chirac, Queen Sofia of Spain and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

The five cities bidding to host the 2012 Summer Games delivered their final presentations ahead of the vote.

London used royalty to get its message across, with Princess Anne kicking off the city's one-hour presentation with 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," the queen's message said, according to Reuters.

Blair, who held a string of meetings with IOC delegates before flying home to host the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland this weekend, underlined London's message Wednesday with a pre-recorded video clip.

"Our vision is to see millions of young people participate in sport and improve their lives. London has the power to make this happen," Reuters quoted Blair as saying.

Chirac spoke passionately to the IOC, saying, "The heart of Paris and the heart of France are beating in unison in the hope of becoming Olympic host in 2012," AP reported.

"You can put your trust and faith in France, you can trust the French, you can trust us."

Paris also utilized the talents of actress Catherine Deneuve and French singer Johnny Halliday to highlight the wonders of Paris.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton and bid leader Dan Doctoroff used New York's readiness and its multicultural traditions to woo judges.

Bloomberg reminded the IOC of the city's recovery from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"In our city's darkest hour, we asked ourselves, can we recover?" AP quoted him as saying. "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 prerecorded video messages, AP said.

New York's delegation also included U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth and a host of decorated Olympians, including Muhammad Ali, Nadia Comaneci, Ian Thorpe, Janet Evans and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's live video clip -- delivered in English -- urged the IOC to grasp a "unique and truly historic opportunity" by selecting Moscow, Reuters said.

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

Russian swimming great Alexander Popov added: "If we can convince you to take this historic opportunity today, together we can change the world tomorrow."

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Queen Sofie pressed Madrid's case.

"The whole Spanish royal family is convinced that Madrid fully meets the conditions to offer to the world the best Olympic Games," AP quoted the queen as saying.

Responding to questions from delegates, Madrid officials downplayed threats from the Basque extremist group ETA.

"Absolute security is assured," AP quoted Zapatero as saying.

"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."

Voting has gone to four ballots in four of the last five votes to pick a host for the Summer Games. The only exception was in 2001, when Beijing was selected for the 2008 Olympics on just the second ballot.

Copyright 2005 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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