Thousands of Spaniards preparing for a victory party fell into a stunned silence on Saturday as Madrid’s bid to host the 2020 Games was thrown out in a shock first round vote by Olympic chiefs.

Many gasped in surprise and looked bewildered as their dreams of winning the Games and a potential economic windfall for the recession-hit nation were shattered.

Just moments before, thousands of people packing the city centre had been singing “Madrid, Madrid” and dancing in preparation for night-time celebrations.

Knocked out

Then the unthinkable happened: Madrid was ejected from the race in the first round. As spotlights projected the Madrid 2020 logo on to the city gates, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge’s announcement sank in.

Complete silence fell over the thousands of people expecting to party at the Plaza de la Independenncia square where the city gate stands.

Many people who had been clutching red balloons let them fly into the air and began heading back home. Soon the square was almost deserted. — AFP

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