It's race for 2012 Games now
PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) -- With the Olympics heading to Canada for 2010, let the race begin for the next big prize -- the 2012 Summer Games.
Vancouver was selected Wednesday to host the Winter Olympics, bringing the games to the scenic Pacific coast city of British Columbia and the majestic ski slopes of Whistler.
The IOC picked Vancouver's "Sea to Sky Games" over bids from Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Salzburg, Austria, sending the Olympics back to Canada for the first time since 1988.
The result wasn't a surprise; Vancouver had been the longtime favorite. What was unexpected was the voting pattern and margin of victory.
Pyeongchang, the least known of the three bidders and long considered the outsider, came within three votes of winning in the first round of the secret ballot and two votes in the second.
"It was a photo finish," Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said. "But winning is winning."
Pyeongchang led with 51 votes in the first round, short of a winning majority of 54, while Vancouver had 40 and Salzburg 16. With Salzburg eliminated, Vancouver then defeated Pyeongchang 56-53.
The election wasn't without intrigue -- four members didn't vote in the first round and three in the second, which could have swung the result the other way. The IOC said it was unsure why.
"In the land of the IOC, 56-53 is a landslide," Canadian IOC member Dick Pound told ecstatic Vancouver boosters at a victory party late Wednesday night.
Vancouver was a top pick on technical merits alone. A recent IOC report gave Vancouver the best overall review, with high marks for its plans for sports venues, accommodations and financing.
Canada's understated campaign focused on the technical strengths of its proposal, with most indoor venues in Vancouver and ski and sliding events at Whistler.
"Obviously the best bid won," International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said. "The games are not just venues, bricks and mortar. You need expertise, you need democracy, you need a stable economy, you need champions. Vancouver had all that."
Canada has hosted two previous Olympics -- the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal and 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta.
As Canada rejoiced, many IOC members began looking ahead to the high-profile 2012 contest. New York, London, Paris, Madrid and Moscow are among the declared contenders so far in what IOC officials have described as a "dream team" lineup.
Awarding the 2010 Games to North America helps Europe's chances for 2012 -- at the possible expense of New York. Some members say back-to-back games in North America are unlikely.
The 2012 scenario played a role in Vancouver's victory.
"It's not complicated," said senior Italian member Mario Pescante, head of the European Olympic Committees. "With five countries interested in the Summer Games, the majority of European IOC members preferred to have games outside Europe. This is a very political vote in view of the summer games."
Rogge disputed any 2010-2012 trade-off, citing consecutive games in Europe in 2004 (Athens, summer) and 2006 (Turin, winter).
New York bid officials said they didn't believe Vancouver's selection would hurt the city's chances.
"We really didn't feel like we had a stake in the outcome here," said Daniel Doctoroff, leader of New York's 2012 bid. "Ultimately we've got to do the job in 2005. Between winter and summer, there's no evidence that it's ever made any difference whatsoever."