Those passionate Brits

London has won the right to host the 2012 Olympics. The city defeated Paris in the final vote — since 1992, the French capital has lost out three times in a row (to Barcelona, Beijing, and now London). This Associated Press report suggests that the International Olympic Committee was swayed by the passion of the ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

London has won the right to host the 2012 Olympics. The city defeated Paris in the final vote -- since 1992, the French capital has lost out three times in a row (to Barcelona, Beijing, and now London). This Associated Press report suggests that the International Olympic Committee was swayed by the passion of the British boosters:

London has won the right to host the 2012 Olympics. The city defeated Paris in the final vote — since 1992, the French capital has lost out three times in a row (to Barcelona, Beijing, and now London). This Associated Press report suggests that the International Olympic Committee was swayed by the passion of the British boosters:

“Two different strategies — the French and the British,” Dutch member Anton Geesink said. “The British, they explained their love of the sport. It is a love affair for Sebastian Coe, that was the difference. Love you can explain, but you can’t sell it.” Senior Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper said London won because of the way it sold its message in the final hours. “They delivered on the day,” he said. “The presentation just had that little extra feel.”

Which is not to say that the French weren’t passionate — it’s just that the passion of their president, Jacques Chirac, might have been directed at the wrong targets:

The French and the British are having another food fight. It broke out Monday when the French newspaper Liberation reported that French President Jacques Chirac had labeled British cuisine the worst in Europe except for Finland’s. He also was quoted as saying that mad cow disease was Britain’s sole contribution to European agriculture and that “we can’t trust people who have such bad food.” The British press responded in reliable fashion. “Don’t talk crepe, Jacques!” scorned London’s tabloid Sun. “A man full of bile is not fit to pronounce on food,” food critic Egon Ronay told the Guardian…. While the British are used to a cultural rivalry with the French, Chirac could have damaged his country’s Olympic bid by tarring Finland with the same basting brush. London’s Sun noted that although British and French International Olympic Committee members are banned from voting, two Finnish IOC members will be voting, and their ballots could be crucial.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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