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Daily Telegraph

TRIUMPH and euphoria gripped London last night as the full, glorious implications of winning the right to stage the Olympics in 2012 began to sink in.

International Olympic Committee delegates suggested that the London team, led by Lord Coe, swung the result at the last moment with a combination of the passion of its athletes and the charm of its politicians.

To those who thought such characteristics were the preserve of Parisians, London’s great rivals for the prize, there was the shock of the favourites being beaten at the last.

In the febrile atmosphere of the hall where IOC members voted, the successful bidding team erupted from almost unbearable tension to wild scenes of ecstasy after Jacques Rogge, the movement’s leader, read out the name of the winning city.

Athletes such as David Beckham and Sir Matthew Pinsent hugged little-known sports administrators as the attention of the world turned on the London team. Until that moment, the cameras and the weight of expectation had been turned on Paris but it lost out in a 54-50 vote of IOC delegates

The first round of voting had been close (London 22, Paris 21, Madrid 20, New York 19, Moscow 15) but all that the contestants knew at the time was that the Russians, as the city with fewest votes, were out.

Most of the Moscow voters shifted to Madrid in the second round, while New York’s support slipped. In fact, the Spanish capital won the second round (Madrid 31, London 27, Paris 25, New York 16) but elimination for the Americans was great news for London, which took the lead in the third round (London 39, Paris 33, Madrid 31).

The natural inclination was thought to be towards Paris, but it was here, delegates said, that the behind-the-scenes lobbying by Tony Blair and the back-up team, and a brilliant presentation and final, passionate speech from Lord Coe paid off.

In the final round, the votes that had gone to Madrid now went 15 for London, 16 for Paris.

The announcement of the result was the cue for a vast crowd in Trafalgar Square to erupt in delight. Swarms of enthusiastic locals also cheered in Stratford, east London, the area into which hundreds of millions of pounds of investment will now pour.

The Queen sent “warmest congratulations” to the bidding team, while Tony Blair hailed “a momentous day” for the city.

The result offered the Prime Minister a personal triumph over President Jacques Chirac, who, like Mr Blair, had been lobbying IOC members in Singapore before departing for the G8 summit.

Having recently lost the referendum on the EU constitution, and days after he had joked about the poor quality of British food, the former mayor of Paris found himself having to congratulate his adversaries and did not look as if he was enjoying the task.

Mr Blair said he had never known such a sense of elation as the moment he received the news that London had won.

“You can win a House of Commons vote,” he said. “But it is not the same thing.”

The Prime Minister had been so nervous ahead of the result that he could not bear to watch the television build-up and left the summit venue in Gleneagles Hotel for a walk in the grounds.

At 12.47, after the good news was relayed to him, Mr Blair danced with joy and hugged his Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell.

Last night, as President Chirac and other G8 leaders arrived for a formal dinner with the Queen and Prince Philip, UK officials insisted that Mr Blair would give the French president a cordial welcome.

“We don’t want to be seen to be gloating even if we will be,” said one. “You can’t behave like that when you hold the presidency.”

The Prime Minister, by contrast, could barely contain his pleasure at the defeat of Paris. Some IOC members said that Mr Blair’s charm over the past three days and his obvious commitment to the Games had influenced their thinking.

The Government said that Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, would immediately become Minister for the Olympics with a Cabinet role.

A lottery competition will be set up to contribute £1.5 billion to the estimated £4 billion cost of the Games. Building experts predicted that 50,000 jobs would be created in east London and estate agents leapt at the chance to talk up prices in the area.

A supermarket spokesman said that champagne and party snacks had been big sellers in their stores in east London. “Judging by the demand at our stores, people are going to be enjoying a good old Cockney knees-up tonight,” he said.

© Mihir Bose

      

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