SINGAPORE - Britain vs. France. Blair vs. Chirac. Two historic rival cities convinced they were long overdue.
London prevailed — upsetting Paris to secure the 2012 Olympics.
The British capital overcame its cross-Channel opponent 54-50 Wednesday on the fourth ballot of the International Olympic Committee vote, capping the most glamorous and hotly contested bid race in Olympic history.
Moscow, New York and Madrid were eliminated in the first three rounds.
London got the Olympics for the first time since 1948, while Paris was frustrated for a third time in 20 years. It hasn’t held the games since 1924.
Paris had been the front-runner throughout the campaign, but London picked up momentum in the late stages with strong support from Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“Many people do reckon that London is the greatest city in the whole world at the moment,” an exultant Blair said after hearing the result in Gleneagles, Scotland, where he is hosting the G-8 summit.
Blair, who spent two days lobbying in Singapore this week, said he “couldn’t bear to watch” the vote on TV and only heard the result when he received a call from the switchboard at his Downing Street office in London.
“This is a momentous day for London,” he said.
London’s victory handed Paris a third stinging Olympic defeat in 20 years, following failed bids for the 1992 and 2008 Olympics. Paris hasn’t hosted the games since 1924.
IOC president Jacques Rogge opened a sealed envelope and declared the result in a live televised ceremony: “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.”
The tan-suited London delegates in the convention hall leaped out of their seats, arms raised in jubilation and cheering wildly.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic, we have the opportunity to do what we always dreamed about, getting more young people into sport,” London bid leader Sebastian Coe said. “This is our moment. It’s massive. It’s huge. This is the biggest prize in sport.”
Even England soccer captain David Beckham got into the act.
“In 2012, I can take my children to an Olympics which we might never had had the chance to do,” he said. “This is such a huge lift for our country.”
Rogge expressed delight with London’s victory.
“We are very, very pleased with the victory of London,” he said. “People we trust, people we know will give us a superb games.”
There may not be a rivalry in all of college basketball more unique than the Battle of the Boulevard, which pits Belmont against Lipscomb.
The massive tornado that ripped through a handful of Oklahoma City suburbs and killed at least 50 people grabbed the attention of the sports world on Monday, especially the players and coaches with ties to the area.
Rafa Nadal made short work of his great rival Roger Federer to win the Italian Open, while Serena Williams took down Victoria Azarenka in the women's final.
London gets 2012 Games
July 6: The British capital was awarded the Summer Olympic Games of 2012, surprising observers who thought Paris was the front-runner. NBC's Ron Allen reports from London.
Future Olympics sites
2006 Winter Olympics: Turin, Italy
The Week in Sports Pictures
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
When athletes and celebs get together
A look at the many links between sports and Hollywood stars.