International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach has heaped praise on Paris's bid to host the 2024 Games during a two-day visit to the French capital.
Bach met with French athletes and Paris bid leaders before holding talks with French President François Hollande on Sunday at the Elysée Palace, where he received a flag from the 1924 Olympics that were held in Paris.
In addition to the vintage present, Hollande also had a special message for Bach: "This Olympic flag dates back to nearly a century. It will be a century old when Paris will host the Games in 2024."
Paris, which has not hosted the Olympics since those Games, is competing against Budapest and Los Angeles, Rome having dropped out of the race last month. The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city next September.
Bach told Hollande he was "impressed" by the Paris dossier and the strong support the bid is enjoying.
"The Paris bid is a very, very strong bid because of the unity and the large support it is sparking off," Bach said. "Personally, I'm very impressed by the unity among both the sporting and political worlds."
Acing Agenda 2020
Bach insisted the strong support among the general population was a key asset to the Paris bid.
"This has not always been the case with the previous French bids," he said.
Paris failed in bids for the 1992, 2008 and 2012 Games, and France also decided not to bid for 2020 after Annecy was humiliated in the race for the 2018 Winter Games.
This time, bid officials have made sure their project is backed by the government, the Paris city hall, and that it enjoys a strong level of public support.
The Paris bid is also in line with the IOC's Agenda 2020, a set of recommendations encouraging bidding cities to promote the use of existing facilities and infrastructure to save money.
More than 70 percent of the proposed venues in the Paris bid are existing facilities, with a further 25 percent being temporary structures. Paris officials are also promising there won't be any white elephants and that 100 percent of the venues will have a real legacy.
"Your project is excellent and is in line with Agenda 2020," said Bach.
Hollande promises safe games
Despite the security threats in France, Hollande repeated that Paris has the experience needed to organise and protect major events if it gets the Games, citing the football European Championships France hosted last summer as an example.
More than 200 people have died in France in the last 20 months in a string of terrorist attacks, most of them in and around Paris.
"I have no idea what the world will look like in 2024, but it will necessarily be dangerous," Hollande said. "There is not a single country, or capital, that might think it will be immune. We have been confronted by this reality for a while, but we have what it takes to protect an event like the 2024 Olympics."
Next week, Bach will meet Italian officials, who still hope the Rome bid can be revived despite opposition from the city council, which voted in favour of scrapping the bid after Mayor Virginia Raggi rejected the candidacy, citing concerns over costs.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)
Date created : 2016-10-02