Why did London win the 2012 Olympics in the overnight vote? Two reasons
are emerging as the British press celebrates and analyses London’s
victory over Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow. First – the work of
former British Olympian-turned-politician, Lord Sebastian Coe, who’s
being widely hailed as the architect of the city’s success. And second
– winning the crucial African votes through Britain’s overt support of
African aid.

“Make no mistake, the winning of the 2012 Olympic bidding contest is principally down to London’s ‘Lord of the Rings,’ says Rob Hughes in The Times. When Coe took over leadership of the city’s bid in May 2004, he quickly began “massaging the IOC’s erogenous zones,” says Sean Ingle in The Guardian.And
when London didn’t have a hope in hell, Coe proved them wrong. “He
provided the vision and imagination and the belief – and, in doing so,
pulled off the greatest comeback of his life,” says Ingle.

Then
there are the whispers that Tony Blair’s embrace of Africa’s cause may
have helped secure votes for London from African members of the IOC,
says Alan Cowell in The New York Times. And whether he knows it or not, Bob Geldof was an “unofficial ambassador” for London’s bid, says Ashling O’Connor in The Times.
“Live 8 has created a renewed sense of goodwill towards Britain among
African leaders,” and London knew how to exploit that sentiment, says
O’Connor.

And while The New York Timessays
the announcement was met with “stunned silence” in Paris, the French
are allowing for a little self-analysis. Why the no vote? asks Le Nouvel Observateur.
Well, there’s Chirac’s recent comments on English and Finnish cuisine
and the EU “non” vote. Or maybe the members of the IOC just thought
that “the wind of modernity blew more towards London than Paris,” says
political analyst Pascal Boniface.

As
for what the Games mean for London, by the time the open ceremony is
staged, “the bonanza will have transformed the media, marketing,
advertising and PR industries,” say Stephen Brook and Chris Tryhorn in The Guardian’s
media section. But the boom will have to be offset by the massive costs
of covering the games, and the huge investments required to secure
official sponsorship.


How Africa swung the IOC to London


Crikey psephologist Charles Richardson writes:

Jacques Chirac’s surprising suggestion that he knew of a country with
worse food than England may have helped tip the balance in London’s
favour, but Geoffrey Robertson offered an alternative theory on Radio
National this morning. He argued that the uncommitted votes on the IOC
mostly come from Africa, and that Tony Blair’s advocacy of debt relief
for African countries could have been the key factor in winning their
support.

If this is true, the parallel with Australian elections is fascinating.
In each case, most of the votes are sewn up beforehand, and victory
comes from successfully courting a few swingers. In Australia it’s the
mortgage belt of the outer suburbs, in the IOC it’s Africa: one rich
and one poor, but both liable to appeals to their self-interest.

What we need, prior to the next Olympic selection in four years time,
is for one of our intrepid psephologists to compile an IOC pendulum,
showing just where the French need to get a swing to succeed next time!

Peter Fray

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