Perhaps it would have been easier for the French to swallow if Paris had not lost the bid for the 2012 Olympics to the Brits. Had it been Madrid, they might have managed a Gallic shrug. But the cross-Channel rivalry has been unusually animated of late with the differences over Iraq, the EU and the Bush administration. When PM Blair met with President Chirac, much was made of the fact that it was on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. On the eve of the decisive vote by the Olympic Committee, Chirac even succumbed to a jibe at the British cusine. Hence the competition for the 2012 Games was fierce between the two front-runners, Paris and London. When IOC President Dr Jacques Rogge uttered “London,” the crowds assembled at various places in London exploded in joy, dancing and cheering under contrails of red, white and blue. The Queen issued a statement, declaring it “an outstanding achievement to beat such a highly competitive field.” By contrast, the huge crowd outside Paris City Hall froze with shock and disbelief. It was the third successive unsuccessful Olympics bid by Paris. Given the security concerns, it is daunting to host Olym-pics. But the Games are like no other international eve-nt. The city that wins the rig-ht to stage them is accorded great honour and responsibility. — International Herald Tribune