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Paris launches Olympic bid under cloud of Louvre attack

Patrick Kovarik, AFP | The Eiffel Tower lit in the colours of the Olympic flag during the launch of Paris' bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games, on February 3, 2017
3 min

The Paris bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics suffered an untimely setback on Friday when a man armed with a machete was shot and wounded by a French soldier at the Louvre Museum.


Submitting the city's bid to the International Olympic Committee on Friday, city mayor Anne Hidalgo said the games would help drive ecological, environmental and social progress.

“Paris is truly a global city, it is truly a European capital, and it is a city that belongs to the world,” she said. “Anyone can be Parisian … it is a city where dreams come true.”

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve added that the bid demonstrated Paris’s determination to “build bridges, not walls” with the rest of the world.

“France truly believes that sport is the best way of bringing people together from across the world in a spirit of brotherhood,” he said.

Paris is competing with Los Angeles and Budapest to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The day is set to culminate in the evening with a launch show at the Eiffel Tower, the last of a series of demos that started in the morning at a school in the Seine Saint-Denis suburban area in the north of Paris.

Louvre attack casts dark shadow

The enthusiastic and passionate launch of the city’s bid was overshadowed, however, by the Louvre incident, in which police said a man carrying two bags and shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest") rushed at police and soldiers before being shot near the museum's shopping mall.

The man was alive but seriously wounded after what the government said appeared to be a terrorist attack.

"The programme is unchanged," a spokesperson for Paris 2024 told FRANCE 24. "We were already on high alert. The sites have already been secured and anti-bomb squads have checked the facilities."

"This terrorist threat concerns all the cities in the world. We have extremely efficient security services in our city," said Hidalgo after the Louvre incident.

France has been hit by a series of militant Islamist attacks over the past two years, in which more than 230 people have been killed.

The soldier who fired at the machete-wielding man on Friday was from one of the patrolling groups that have become a common sight around Paris since a state of emergency was declared across France in November 2015. It remains in force.

Speaking outside the Louvre, Hidalgo, who will attend Friday night's opening ceremony alongside athletes and other bid leaders, said all big cities in the world are under threat. She said that "there is not a single one escaping that menace".

Following the attack, the French bid committee reiterated its confidence in the city’s bid, in particular that 95 percent of Paris's needed infrastructure to host the games was already in place.

All that is left to build is a pool and a new Olympic village in the Seine-Saint-Denis neighbourhood, which France hopes will benefit from much-needed investment.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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