Olympics comes to London…and all because someone pressed the wrong button!

I was at the Business in Sport & Leisure Conference today held in London with an array of high profile speakers including The Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP, UK Minister for Sport.

It was fascinating listening to Philip Beard, Commercial Director of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games who was recounting the decision ceremony in Singapore on July 6th 2005, when Olympic Committee members were placing their electronic votes for the five short-listed cities – London, Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow. Readers may know that the voting system works by knockout with the city with the lowest votes being eliminated. Moscow was eliminated in the first round and New York in the second, leaving just London, Paris and Madrid. Philip explained that in the third round, one of the officials pressed the wrong button and inadvertently voted for Paris instead of Madrid. This gave Paris 33 votes to Madrid’s 31 instead of it being 32 each. The official asked to rescind his vote so that it could be re-cast, but after some deliberation was told that his vote would have to stand. As a result, Madrid was eliminated leaving Paris and London to go through to the final round, which London took 54 votes to 50. What’s interesting about this, is that had Paris been eliminated in the third round (after a re-vote), the London team believe that Madrid could have pipped them by taking more of the South American votes. So, there you have it. The Olympics is coming to London because someone pressed the wrong button!

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