In Paris, optimism was crushed with one word

Elation and boisterous confidence turned to crushing disappointment in the space of one word yesterday for the large crowd gathered before the Paris town hall. The word was "London".

There was a moment of shock and disbelief, as if 3,000 people had left the road and crashed into a wall at the same time. There was a low moan. Many held their heads in their hands.

The French television coverage, displayed on two giant screens, had encouraged the crowd to believe until the last moment that Paris had won. Beyond that, most people in Paris, and France as a whole, were convinced the French capital had made the best, and least speculative, bid.

Beyond that, many people thought - after rejections for the 1992 and 2008 Games - it must be France's turn. Beyond even that, there was a feeling France needed the Games much more than London.

A decision to award the Olympics to Paris could have reunited a nation divided by the "non" vote in the European referendum. It might have kick-started national confidence and a floundering economy.

"We did everything right," said Bastien Vibert, 26, a science student. "We had the stadiums and the infrastructure. We had the enthusiasm. I just don't understand it. The Olympic movement said it wanted a modest, relatively cheap games and it went for the most expensive bid."

Georges Kamany, 35, held his head in his hands. "Good luck to London. But many, many people in France who love sport, like me, will be crushed by this decision. What does Paris have to do?" he asked.

The Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, in Singapore for the vote, looked devastated. "I'll put all my energy into our recovery, so that we know how to make something big and positive out of this ordeal," he said.

After the initial shock came the speculation and the recrimination. A group of people on the Metro, discussing the decision, were convinced that Mayor Delonoe's homosexuality had swung the vote against Paris. "In the Third World, you know, they are very macho. That does not go down well," one man said.

Members of the Paris delegation pointed a finger of recrimination at London. IOC rules state that one candidate city is not supposed to denigrate another. Many Paris officials believe the London campaign did denigrate Paris and, at the very least, encouraged a campaign of denigration in the British press.

The former Olympic judo champion David Douillet, in Singapore with the Paris team, said: "We don't understand. This is not logical. Obviously the London tactics were the right ones. This is not the way we acted and we would never act that way. We respected the rules."

Another official of the Paris bid said it appeared "our greatest asset - the fact we had most of the facilities in place - became our handicap ... [the IOC] preferred a new stadium, which existed only in the imagination."

The decision is also a further blow to the prestige and popularity of President Jacques Chirac, who is already languishing in opinion polls with an approval rating of just 21 per cent.

The rivals


New York tried to shrug off its loss, quietly abandoning a planned party in Rockefeller Centre and acknowledging the bid may have been sabotaged by squabbles over the main stadium. "We don't need reassurance from the International Olympic Committee or anyone else that New York is a world-class city," Representative Anthony Weiner, a candidate for mayor, said tartly.


Disappointment was shortlived among hundreds who gathered in Madrid´s Plaza Mayor to watch the verdict live on a giant screen. Many shrugged and offered congratulations to passing Britons. "London's was a good bid," one man said, his crumpled Spanish flag trailing on the cobblestones. Some were quietly relieved: "Let's hope the frenzy of building work will ease off now and we can all relax," said Luis Perez, 35.


While the world was reporting Moscow had gone out of the bidding in the first round, tens of thousands of supporters on Red Square were kept in ignorance by organisers, who continued to keep up hopes for more than an hour. The wait made the news harder to take. "I really thought we had a chance," said Alexei, a student trudging away.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'