SINGAPORE – New York's hopes for a comeback victory were dashed Wednesday when the International Olympic Committee eliminated the Big Apple in the second round of voting for the host city of the 2012 Summer Games (search).
Just a month ago, the city's bid seemed in disarray when its main stadium plan collapsed. But officials quickly came up with a new idea and were elated earlier Wednesday by the warm reception to its presentation.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (search) contended that support for the games had risen since the Manhattan plan was rejected by state lawmakers and replaced by plans for a new stadium in Queens.
Bloomberg, at a post-presentation news conference, said the city had numerous development projects under way that would continue in any case, but added, "Don't minimize the impact the Olympic Games would have on New York."
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.
There was no immediate word whether the high-powered New York delegation would be interested in bidding again for the 2016 Games, which stand a good chance of being in the United States.
"Our city needs these games in 2012," Bloomberg told the IOC during the presentation. He had evoked the Sept. 11 attacks, which occurred shortly before he was elected.
"In our city's darkest hour, we asked ourselves, 'Can we recover?"' he told the IOC. "New Yorkers stood up then and said, 'Yes, we can recover, we will rebuild and we must continue to welcome everyone.' That spirit will be given to your games."
New York's presentation began with a video featuring an array of residents praising the city in a variety of accents. Later, foreign athletes and coaches, as well as American Olympians, extolled the joys of competing in the city, and the video ended with an athlete running through New York's streets, bearing an Olympic torch that finally merged with the Statue of Liberty's torch.
"Why hasn't New York, a city that welcomes everyone, a city that loves to compete, ever hosted the Olympic Games?" asked deputy mayor and bid leader Dan Doctoroff. "Now, after years of work, after listening to you and changing our plans, we are ready."
Throughout recent days of intensive lobbying in Singapore, New York officials were asked repeatedly whether they would mount a bid for the 2016 Games if they lost. Bloomberg emphatically sought to keep the focus on this bid, not the future.
"2012 is the only time for New York," he told IOC members, stressing that crucial deals for public funding and for land — including the Olympic Village site — were only valid for this bid.
President George W. Bush, who unlike rival government leaders did not travel to Singapore, appeared on video to call New York "an amazing city" and pledge full federal support for security and visa logistics.
President Bill Clinton also appeared on video, outlining a bid-connected plan to combat AIDS and assist refugees, while his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., was one of the featured speakers here.
Among the dozens of present and former Olympians on hand to support New York's bid, the best know by far was Muhammad Ali. Suffering from Parkinson's disease, the 1960 boxing gold medalist stumbled slightly before rising to acknowledge applause when he was introduced.