Paris performs magic for Olympics bid: Running on the River Seine
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Divers plunged into the Seine and sprinters raced on a floating track as the French capital turned into a giant Olympic park on Friday in a final push to win the rights for the 2024 Olympic Games.
Paris and US rival Los Angeles are the only two cities bidding to stage the “biggest show on earth”, and the French capital is running a series of events over the weekend to buttress its frontrunner status.
Facilities include a 100-metre track floating on the Seine, a diving platform on the gilded Alexandre III bridge, and a cycling circuit around the famed Arc de Triomphe, where the normally frantic traffic will be stopped on Saturday.
Trampoline demonstrations were also underway at the Petit Palais art museum, a short walk away from the bridge, while some 30 other sports showcased at venues across the city.
The two-day mini-Olympics will give Parisians and visitors a chance to try out a host of activities including boxing, judo, archery and wheelchair basketball, with supervision from professionals.
Leading the way, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo took to the river in a kayak, alongside former Olympic gold medal canoeist Tony Estanguet.
"This is a very important moment to celebrate the Olympic spirit but also to show to everyone that Paris, the tourists, the children and of course the locals are enjoying this beautiful day," said a beaming Hidalgo.
"This is a great opportunity for us to give a taster of what the Games will be like here in 2024," added Estanguet, who is leading the Paris bid.
France's newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, was expected later in the day, along with Sports Minister Laura Flessel, herself a two-time Olympic champion in fencing.
The French capital last hosted the Olympics in 1924, while Los Angeles has held it twice – most recently in 1984.
Paris was the hot favourite to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, only to be pipped by London when the results were announced on a tearful night in 2005.