London was announced as the host city for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, beating Paris in one of the hardest fought and closest bidding campaigns in the history of the games.
Londoners celebrate the announcement from the IOC
London has beaten Paris to the finishing line in the race to become the host city of the 2012 Olympic Games. The English capital becomes the first city to host the games for the third time.
IOC president Jacques Rogge announced the winner at 13:45 CET in a worldwide television broadcast.
The two cities reached the final round after the IOC rank and file eliminated Moscow, New York and Madrid.
The cities have been going head-to-head for the final few weeks of campaigning. British Prime Minister Tony Blair spent two days in Singapore, having private one-to-one meeting with IOC members in a bid to win over doubters. French president Jacques Chirac jetted into Singapore on Tuesday afternoon for a lightning round of lobbying ahead of Wednesday's vote.
Candidates eliminated over three rounds
Moscow, who went out in the first round, New York, the second, and Madrid, in the third, have been considered outsiders as the IOC got nearer to the vote.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone told the sporting world from the IOC event in Singapore that the capital would deliver. "We will promise you a Games you will never forget."
British rowing Olympian Matthew Pinsent added: "This is so special... It was four votes between winning and losing -- as close as our race in Athens ... The emotion in the last couple of hours has been incredible."
As London celebrated, there was huge disappointment for the Paris bid which had been the frontrunner from the start of the process over two years ago. Philippe Baudillon, Chief Executive of the Paris bid could barely hide his feelings. "We are very, very disappointed but it was a very good competition. We thought we could win but obviously we did not ... That's life."
Unlucky candidates look to the future
Personalities from the other failed bids took the opportunity to comment on the decision of the IOC. Billy Payne, former head of the Atlanta Olympic Committee that staged the 1996 Summer Games said that New York had a great bid and he hoped the experience would not put the city off running in the future. "I was so proud of them ... I just hope they have the patience and the commitment to go on to 2016, and I promise that if they show that tenacity ... we'll see the Games come back to the United States and probably in the city of New York."
Russian supporters had not even been told that Russia had been eliminated by the time the announcement of London's success was broadcast. Bemused spectators listened as Leonid Miroshnichenko, Secretary General of Russia's bid, commented on the failed attempt. "We feel Moscow still needs the development and will build the sports facilities we plan to do. We lost today but it doesn't mean we lost the future, we will be bidding again."
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov added: "It was an equal competition and we put in our best and fought the battle. The Olympics in 2012 will be hosted by the first among equals."
Real Madrid soccer striker Raul, in Singapore to support the Spanish capital's bid spoke of his hopes for the future after Madrid was eliminated in the third round: "We must be proud of all the people who defended this candidacy ... I think Madrid will go on fighting because it deserves to be an Olympic city."
An Olympic history of glory and scandal
London has staged the Games twice before, in 1908, when the contest was shaken by judging scandals, and 1948, in the aftermath of World War II.
In 1906, London was asked to hold the Olympics instead of Rome, which was suddenly forced to pull out after Mount Vesuvius erupted. Despite having just two years to prepare, London proved to be an innovative host, introducing qualifying rounds and forcing countries to limit the number of competitors they put forward.
The 1908 Games, which ran from April 27 until October 31, however, were marred by international politics and problems with judging.
Finnish athletes were told to march under the Soviet Union flag, and Irish competitors who wanted to represent Ireland were ordered to compete on Britain's behalf.
The biggest drama occurred in the 400 meter race, when US runner J.C. Carpenter, who crossed the finish line first, was disqualified for obstructing the British competitor, Wyndham Halswelle. Complicating matters, Britain and the United States had different rules on obstruction, and, while the final was re-run, Carpenter and two other US athletes refused to take part so Halswelle had to sprint round the track alone. In the end, US runner John Hayes -- who came second in the original race -- was awarded the gold after the American team formally complained.
Some 2,035 athletes, representing 22 countries, took part in London's first Olympics, but only 36 of these competitors were women.
A cocktail of controversial decisions during the Games prompted the establishment of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, which standardized track and field competition rules.
Postwar Olympics advances Games stature
In 1939, London was once again asked to host the prestigious event but the 1944 Olympics were cancelled after the outbreak of World War II. Instead, once the fighting ended, the British capital was invited to hold the 1948 Games, which gathered together 4,099 athletes from 59 countries, although defeated states Germany and Japan were not invited.
With the capital still struggling to recover from the damage dealt by nightly air raids during the war, there was no Olympic village. Athletes had to make do with using schools, government buildings and military barracks.
In addition, food was still rationed so competitors were asked to bring their own supplies and donate any leftovers to hospitals. Wembley Stadium, which survived the bombings, was fitted with a temporary running track and used as the main venue.