Britain’s press salutes London’s Olympic success

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Britain’s newspapers Thursday hailed London’s victory in the race to host the 2012 Olympic Games with full colour front pages of the city’s joyous celebrations.

In a nail-biting contest in Singapore, London beat arch-rival Paris and three other cities Wednesday to land the biggest sporting show on earth.

Over 10,000 Londoners celebrated in Trafalgar Square at the announcement — sparking a party across the British capital.

The Daily Telegraph said “Britain is a winner on the world stage” and the Olympic victory added to a superb spell for the country.

The broadsheet cited Britain’s EU presidency and chairmanship of the Group of Eight industrial powers at crucial junctures, the Live 8 anti-poverty concerts and British troops playing a role in Afghanistan and Iraq’s fledgling democracies.

“The eyes of the world are on Great Britain. It’s time to be glad. Britain is Great,” it said.

The press toasted London bid chief Lord Sebastian Coe, dubbed “Lord of the Rings”.

The double Olympic gold medallist, 48, was hailed a gritty “never-say-die hero” for turning round London’s bid when Paris seemed dead certs.

Coe “may have single-handedly won London the 2012 Olympic Games with a brilliant speech to the IOC in Singapore,” the Daily Mirror wrote.

The Times and The Independent used an identical wraparound front-and-back-page photo of the ticker-tape Trafalgar Square celebrations.

“It is hard to exaggerate the importance to all Britain, of this achievement,” The Times said.

London “now has a chance to buff its reputation as a world city and renew itself for the new century.”

“All can, and should, find cause to rejoice in an enterprise that will be costly and also truly monumental,” the newspaper’s editorial said.

The Sun could not resist the chance to lash crestfallen French President Jacques Chirac after London’s win stunned Paris.

The tabloid baked the “blundering president” a humble pie and blasted Chirac’s “strutting arrogance” for his “uncouth attack” on British cuisine in the run-up to the bid.

The Sun suggested Chirac might also try coq-up au vin, stuffed frog, hard cheese and sour grapes washed down with French whines.

Newspapers rounded on the French leader with the Daily Mail running two pages under the headline “Who’s laughing now, Mr Chirac?” and branding him “staggeringly inept”.

“What put a spring in the step of every red-blooded Englishman yesterday was the spectacle of France’s discomfort,” it said.

The tabloid ran several present and 2012 images of sites to be used in the Games.

“London’s famous victory is, quite simply, a brilliant achievement,” The Guardian said in its editorial.

The broadsheet highlighted the upturn in fortunes for east London, heart of the Olympic bid.

The area is the most ethnically diverse and poorest in Europe, riven with urban blight, The Guardian said.

East London “can at last look forward to the ambitious regeneration that it never properly got after the batterings of world war two and the collapse of old industries like the docks.”

The Financial Times cheered the economic implications of London’s victory.

“There is expected to be a boost for the British economy as a whole and in partucular in for construction, housing, tourism, transport, engineering, with a consequent rise in shares across these sectors.”

Most newspapers published a series of maps and diagrams on the vast east London bid site.

The Independent and the Daily Express recalled expensive past flops where politicians have blown public money and warned the political elite to keep their noses out of the 2012 planning.

“Letting politicians take charge of large public projects is a recipe for disaster,” the Independent warned.

“When it comes to planning the 2012 Games, our politicians — whoever is in charge — must resist the temptation to meddle.”