Vancouver gets 2010 Winter Olympic Games

The Associated Press

PRAGUE, Czech Republic – The Olympics are returning to North America in 2010, to a scenic Pacific coast city beneath snowcapped mountains.

By a mere three votes, Vancouver was selected Wednesday as the host of the Winter Games, taking the Olympics to Canada for the first time since 1988.

“It was a photo finish,” Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said. “That's what is so great about sport. But winning is winning. I just want to guarantee everybody that it will be a great success.”

The vote was closer than expected, with outsider Pyeongchang, South Korea, nearly pulling off a stunning upset in the first round of secret balloting by International Olympic Committee members.

The election wasn't without controversy several members didn't vote, which could have swung the result the other way.

The IOC said it was unsure why.

With a simple majority needed for victory, Pyeongchang got 51 votes in the first round, followed by Vancouver with 40 and Salzburg with 16. But Vancouver picked up Salzburg's votes in the next round and defeated Pyeongchang 56-53.

Putting the 2010 Games to North America leaves Europe in a strong position for the 2012 Summer Olympics at the expense of New York. Some members say back-to-back games in North America are unlikely.