By the bid submission deadline of 15 July 2003, nine cities had submitted bids to host the 2012 Olympics. These cities were Havana, Istanbul, Leipzig, London, Madrid, Moscow, New York City, Paris and Rio de Janeiro.
London's bid appears to have been the idea of the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.
On 18 May 2004, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as a result of a scored technical evaluation, reduced the number of cities to five: London, Madrid, Moscow, New York, and Paris.
All five cities submitted their candidate file by 19 November 2004, and were visited by the IOC inspection team during February and March 2005. The Paris bid suffered two setbacks during the IOC inspection visit: a number of strikes and demonstrations coinciding with the visits and a report coming out that one of the key members of the Paris bid team would face charges over alleged corrupt party political finances.
On 6 June 2005, the IOC its evaluation reports for the five candidate cities. Although these reports did not contain any scores or rankings, the evaluation report for Paris was considered the most positive, now followed closely by London which had narrowed down most of the gap observed by the initial evaluation in 2004 regarding Paris. Also New York and Madrid obtained very positive evaluation reports.
Throughout the process, Paris was widely seen as the favourite to win the nomination, particularly as this was its third bid in recent history. Originally London was seen lagging Paris by considerable margin; however, this started to improve with the appointment of Sebastian Coe as new head of London 2012 on 19 May 2004. In late August 2004, some reports started emerging predicting a London and Paris tie in the 2012 bid. In the final run-up to the 117th IOC Session, London and Paris appeared to be increasingly in a neck-and-neck race. On 1 July 2005, Jacques Rogge, when asked who the winner would be, told the assembled press: "I cannot predict it since I don't know how the IOC members will vote. But my gut feeling tells me that it will be very close. Perhaps it will come down to a difference of say ten votes, or maybe less".
On 6 July 2005, the final selection was announced at the 117th IOC Session in Singapore. Here Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair was the only leader of the five candidate cities' countries to make a personal lobby (he had also been the only one to attend the 2004 Olympics). Moscow was the first city to be eliminated, followed by New York and Madrid. The final two cities left in contention were London and Paris. At the end of the fourth round of voting, London won the right to host the 2012 Games with 54 votes, defeating Paris's 50. Various French publications blamed the Paris loss on French President Jacques Chirac's statements before the vote that "We can't trust people [the British] who have such bad food. After Finland, it's the country with the worst food." Two current members of the International Olympic Committee are from Finland. Several other news sources cited Bertrand Delanoë's complaint regarding Tony Blair's secret late night meetings with numerous (African) IOC representatives as having a more significant impact on final vote. When reporting London's win, British media covered the expectant crowds in both France and Britain (and in the other bid cities), and contrasted the jubilant reaction in London to the reaction of the crowd in Paris, where many had gathered in hope of a French win. However, the celebrations in London were overshadowed when London's transport system was attacked by terrorists less than 24 hours after the announcement.
In December 2005, it was alleged by Alex Gilady, a senior IOC official, that London had won the right to host the Olympics only because of a voting error. A London 2012 spokesman dismissed this, saying "At the end of the day, it was a secret ballot. This is the opinion of one individual. The result is what matters and we are not going to be drawn into speculation."