Final five announced in the race for 2008 Games

Peking, Paris, Toronto, Osaka and Istanbul have reached the final of the race for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Peking, Paris, Toronto, Osaka and Istanbul have reached the final of the race for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Out went Bangkok, Havana, Seville, Kuala Lumpur and Cairo as the International Olympic Committee's executive board halved the list of candidates to five.

Staging the Games has become a lucrative business, providing a huge boost to a country's economy. Sydney will host the 2000 Games next month while the 2004 Summer Games will be in Athens.

High marks went to the Chinese and French capitals, plus Osaka and Toronto, in the 80-page report compiled by the IOC's Candidature Working Group. They were unanimous selections.

"The quality of the four recommended by the specialists committee was very good and not easy to separate," said Australian IOC vice-president Kevan Gosper. "And the inclusion of Istanbul was essentially because they were so close to the line and had bid before. There was a majority view we should include them as well."

Under new reforms, following the corruption and bribery scandals surrounding Salt Lake City's successful bid to stage the 2002 Winter Games, prospective host cities were required to undergo a bid acceptance procedure to determine whether they should be approved as official candidates.

The bid acceptance phase was designed to allow the IOC to study each city's organisational capabilities. Bids going forward must be adequately prepared to host the Games.

The announcement of the accepted bids was disrupted by protesters demonstrating against the Toronto bid outside IOC headquarters in Lausanne.

Moments before the finalists were announced, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch and Canadian IOC vice-president Dick Pound met about 20 protesters who had flown to Switzerland to demonstrate against the use of the Adams Mine as a Toronto refuse dump.

As television crews from around the world jostled for position, an uncomfortable Samaranch accepted a pamphlet with the slogan 'Help Stop the Toronto Olympic Bid'.

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