In a mild upset, London was victorious in its bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, edging Paris, 54-50, in the final round of voting by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday in Singapore.
MSNBC's Jim Lampley, hosting live coverage of IOC President Jacque Rogge's announcement, talked with NBC's James Hattori from London right after the news, along with former Atlanta Olympic Organizing Committee head Billy Payne and Newsweek's Christopher Dickey from Paris.
To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.
James Hattori from London: I'd have to say, probably a surprise to a lot of people, London was long considered an underdog going into this contest, they made a big, very spirited last minute pitch before the IOC. (Prime Minister) Tony Blair himself, taking time off before the G8 summit to make an appearance in Singapore and plead the case personally, and apparently those efforts have paid off, and now it is sheer bedlam here at Trafalgar's Square.
The celebrations will go on undoubtedly for some time here, thousands of people here have gathered, they've been watching since the voting began, the ceremonies began hours ago, now they are just basking in this last minute decision. You can hear when the decision was being announced, and they're watching on huge jumbotron screens here, you could literally hear a pin drop when the announcement was being made, and when the words came out, a cheer, a roar, came across and now there's confetti floating all over the crowd, the Olympic athletes representing the United Kingdom up on stage, who will obviously be very front and center in this celebration today, as London will be the host of the Olympic Games in 2012.
Jim Lampley: Alright, thank you very much James Hattori, well, I'm sure it feels like an upset to those in Paris, who had expected and strongly believed that they would win this bid, but it is London who hosted the Summer Olympics in 1908 and again in 1948 after the conclusion of World War II, which now will have the honor of becoming the first city to host the modern Summer Olympic games three times, an honor which does not go to Paris, the hometown of modern Olympics founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin, and the city that had hosted the summer games in 1900 and again in 1924.
This is somewhat in the vane of 1996 when Athens, Greece was favored, and through the balloting process, Atlanta built momentum and came on to gain the games, the same thing happened in 2000 when Beijing was regarded as the favorite and Sydney came from behind during the balloting to gain the right to host the Games. Lets check in with Atlanta (Organizing Committee) CEO Billy Payne right now, Billy it's my understanding that you were applauding vigorously that London had gained the right to host the 2012 Games, what is it that excites you about that?
Billy Payne: Well I'm just so proud of them, they've wanted the games to return now for so long, while London has not bid recently, Great Britain has on several occasions, and I tell you what, I'd like to see a videotape of Tony Blair's presentation I think it would be mesmerizing.
Lampley: Well, Tony Blair I'm sure was a powerful presence in Singapore, but shouldn't we also give credit to Sebastian Coe, former world record holder in the 1500 meters, former Olympic gold medallist, the man who spearheaded London's bid. He's regarded as a powerful rising force in the politics of international sport, perhaps a future force in U.K. politics itself, don't you suppose Sebastian Coe had a lot to do with this Billy?
Payne: Oh absolutely, he took over when the bid was in difficulty, he turned it around completely, performed as an organizer to the same level he did as an athlete. He certainly deserves a lot of the credit.
Lampley: Are you as surprised as I am that London instead of Paris, gets the right to host the summer games for the third time, and becomes the first city to do so.
Payne: No sir, not at all Jim, I've been around this 20 years now, and just before the announcement I was telling the crew here to expect the unexpected because it seems to always happen with the IOC.
Lampley: Will there be a consolation prize for Paris somewhere down the road just as there was for Athens your upset victory in 1996?
Payne: Well I would hope that Paris continues to bid, my next choice I think I've made clear is New York, I'm going to be working on trying to convince them to stay with it. Paris can fend for itself and I suspect we'll see them back as well.
Lampley: Alright Billy Payne, the man who ran the Olympic games in Atlanta in 1996. This has to be seen as an enormous disappointment on the ground in Paris, most Parisians probably believed the media reports that had listed them as the likely favorite to win this bid for more than a year. Right now we are going to go to Christopher Dickey who is Newsweek's bureau chief in Paris, as well as the regional editor for the middle east for Newsweek magazine, Christopher, how disappointing will this be to national and local authorities in Paris?
Christopher Dickey from Paris: Oh it's got to be very, very disappointing to the national authorities, to the city authorities, and to the people of Paris and of France. France has been on sort of a losing streak recently, with a lot of bad shocks and surprises, its economy is not going well, it was looking for something to lift its spirits and everybody thought this might be it. Now that it hasn't happened, it feels like sort of three strikes you're out, and there's no joy in Paris this afternoon I can tell you that.
Lampley: Do you suppose it hurts a lot worse for the French to lose this bid to London, than would have been the case had they lost it to Moscow or New York or Madrid?
Dickey: Sure there's always a rivalry with London, it also just feels bad to have tried as hard as they have now for three times making a bid for these games and to keep missing out one way or the other. I think there is a special rivalry with London, there's a special rivalry between president Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Tony Blair, and I think Chirac will probably be suffering from this, not only emotionally but politically. It's really quite a big thing here, and you're going to have some very depressed Parisians this evening.
Lampley: Christopher, Paris could scarcely have gotten higher marks in all the preliminary reports, what might be missing from this composite, if anything, that is preventing Paris from gaining the right to host the Games.
Dickey: Well I don' t know, I think there's a certain emotional level of content here that's important. It may not have helped, for instance, that when president Chirac stood up, he decided to give his speech to the committee in French. I'm sure there were a lot of good nationalistic reasons to do that, but the Russians, for instance, spoke in English, and I think for a lot of people on the committee they said look, if France is going to open up to the world, it really needs to open up to the world, and that's not the message we're getting, but that's just a guess. Paris is very organized, it's got a lot of facilities, its got a lot of great hotels, it's a beautiful city, its easy to get around, and it's a city where people feel very romantic and positive about themselves normally, so it's hard to know why they didn't get it