International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge made the announcement today following a secret vote by the committee as it met in Singapore.
The cheering during the live television broadcast of the announcement came from crowds of London supporters in Singapore and in the British capital.
The contest to host the 2012 Olympic Games sparked great public interest in Europe and North America as it pitted five of the northern hemisphere’s best-known cities against one another. The other contestants were Paris, New York, Moscow, and Madrid.
In the run-up to today’s announcement, leaders and prominent figures from all five countries had lobbied hard to convince the IOC to choose their city.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair spent two days in Singapore meeting IOC members before returning to host the G-8 summit opening today in Gleneagles, Scotland. He said before the decision was announced that London would be the best choice.
"It is a unique honor to act as host city. I also understand it is an honor which comes with a great responsibility and which requires the highest levels of cooperation with the IOC. My promise to you is that we will be your very best partners," Blair said.
French President Jacques Chirac, too, stopped personally in Singapore.
New York and Madrid were just as determined to get the games. The New York City delegation in Singapore included U.S. Former First Lady Hillary Clinton, who is now a senator from New York state.
Prior to the final announcement, the International Olympic Committee itself gave no hint as to which city would be chosen.
Instead, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge stressed the difficulty of selecting between such strong candidates.
He also said he believed interest was so high in hosting the 2012 Games because the Olympics are currently enjoying great public appeal.
"The IOC and the Olympic movement are currently enjoying a favorable situation thanks to the appeal and success of the games, thanks to the values that we defend, and thanks to the great financial resources that we are able to redistribute," Rogge said.
The Olympic Games not only bring thousands of sports fans to the winning city as customers for local businesses. They also spur infrastructure improvements in transportation and other areas that can far outlast the games themselves.