London has won its bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games for the first time since 1948, and a record third time overall (1908 was the first) after another surprising turn of events in the most competitive bidding in Olympic history.

In the end, it was the showdown everyone expected for the right to host the 2012 Games, with London and Paris advancing to a fourth secret ballot by the International Olympic Committee, outlasting other finalists Madrid, New York City and Moscow.

But it was a packed crowd gathered outside the Hotel de Ville in Paris that was left in stunned silence when IOC President Jacques Rogge announced the results Wednesday in Singapore. The French, long considered heavy favourites after unsuccessful bids for the 1992 and 2008 Olympics, lost to London, 54-50.