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Macron vows full backing for Paris Olympics as IOC visit begins

Albert Pizzoli, AFP | The Paris 2024 logo, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

France's newly inaugurated president promised full and enthusiastic support for Paris's bid to host the 2024 Games on Sunday, as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) assessment team began a three-day inspection.

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Just hours after his formal inauguration, Emmanuel Macron told Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo that the French capital's Olympic bid stimulated the kind of national optimism he hopes to generate during his mandate.

"I'm right with you on your venture for the Olympics, Paralympics and the 2024 objective," Macron told supporters at Paris City Hall.

Paris bid co-chairman and three-time Olympic slalom canoe champion Tony Estanguet revealed his team had been invited to the Élysée Palace – the French president's official residence – on Tuesday.

"Our team has a new member – the new president of the Republic Emmanuel Macron," he enthused.

"He'll be with us on this adventure all the way to Lima, and hopefully, beyond," Estanguet said in reference to the September meeting when the IOC will nominate Paris or Los Angeles as host of the 2024 Olympics.

"Not only is he doing us a major honour, but this is a perfect opportunity to answer some serious questions, it's a crucial meeting for the future," said Estanguet's fellow bid co-chairman Bernard Lapasset.

The pair also revealed they had been grilled by the evaluators concerning the identity of the organisation committee head in case of a Paris victory.

"Tony Estanguet will be the leader," said the 70-year-old Lapasset.

"And Bernard will be the honorary president," revealed the 39-year-old Estanguet. "The IOC demanded to know our plans," he said.

Paris Mayor Hidalgo will lead the group overseeing the building of the village and the Olympic pool.

A thrifty visit

The evaluation committee leader Patrick Baumann said Sunday's meetings had revealed "an exceptional and finely detailed project".

"The project looks tangible in a sporting, social and economic sense," he said.

"We also wanted to look as closely as possible at the Athletes Village plans," he added, noting that the Paris bid "worked very hard to get athletes involved in the planning".

The IOC evaluation will continue on Monday with visits to the city's iconic and sporting sites set to feature during the Games, before concluding their visit on Tuesday.

Baumann was keen to stress Sunday that the lavish visits to bid cities of old were a thing of the past.

"There is no need for any particular special treatment. We are absolutely happy with that. In order to help the bidding committee not to have too many expenses, the IOC has decided to cover these costs," he explained.

He also congratulated Paris for going ahead and building the residential area that would have been the 2012 Olympic village had they beaten London.

"Paris did not get the Games, but the Village has been done. It's a residential area that is existing out there. It demonstrates the seriousness and the motivation of the city of Paris, and when they say something, there are gonna do something."

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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