Paris becomes 4th city to join race for 2024 Olympic Games

AP News
|
Posted: Jun 23, 2015 6:32 AM

PARIS (AP) — Paris declared its candidacy for the 2024 Olympics on Tuesday, becoming the fourth city to enter the race and setting out its vision for bringing the games back to the French capital for the first time in 100 years.

The Paris bid, which has been in the works for months, was formally launched in a ceremony at the headquarters of the French Olympic Committee that was attended by leading French athletes.

"We believe that this bid and our goal to host the 2024 Games will excite, unite and enthuse the people of Paris, our entire nation and lovers of Olympic and Paralympic sport all over the world," bid chairman Bernard Lapasset said.

Paris joins Rome, Boston and Hamburg as declared bidders, with Budapest also expected to join the contest.

Paris has scheduled a second bid ceremony on Bastille Day on July 14, with French President Francois Hollande and other top political figures expected to take part.

Paris hosted the Olympics in 1900 and 1924 and bid unsuccessfully for the 1992, 2008 and 2012 Games.

After being criticized for their perceived arrogance in their defeats to Beijing and London for the 2008 and 2012 Games, French officials have opted for a more cautious and humble approach this time, leaving government officials in a supporting role and making sure all the political hurdles were cleared before announcing a bid.

The bid announcement coincided with the annual Olympic Day, which celebrates the inception of the International Olympic Committee on June, 23, 1894 in Paris.

"As we move forward with our bid, it is very pleasing to see today that we already have the full support of the city, regional and national governments as well as the CNOSF and the French sports movement," Lapasset said. "It is wonderful to also receive significant public support and real backing from our athletes."

Paris has until Sept. 15 to submit its candidacy to the IOC, which will choose the host city in 2017.

The infrastructure budget of the Paris bid has been estimated at 3 billion euros ($4.5 billion), with operational costs of 3.2 billion euros ($4.8 billion). The cost of bidding is projected at 60 million euros ($63 million).

According to Lapasset, 60 to 80 percent of venues have already been built, meaning existing infrastructure would be at the heart of the project. The Stade de France, a new cycling track on the outskirts of Paris, the Roland Garros tennis stadium and many Parisian landmarks including the Grand Palais and Champ de Mars are likely to be used. The main construction requirements include an aquatics center, Olympic village and media center.

Denis Masseglia, president of the national Olympic committee, said Paris "promises a feasible and flexible games concept."

Another key figure in the bid is IOC member and former Olympic canoeing champion Tony Estanguet.

Both Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls have kept a low profile over the past six months but made clear they supported the bid. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was initially skeptical about the costs and environmental impact of the Olympics and questioned whether France should bid for both the 2024 Olympics and 2025 World Expo.

Hidalgo is now one of the bid's most fervent supporters as a political consensus sweeps the major parties, with only some members of the Green Party remaining opposed, mainly for financial reasons.

"Paris is looking forward to an exciting and bold future whilst remaining true to its rich sporting and cultural traditions," Hidalgo said Tuesday. "We will be designing an integrated project with all the talents of the City of Paris and its suburbs and with young people playing a key role."

The Paris strategy has been praised by IOC President Thomas Bach, who said in April after a meeting with Hollande that "if this candidature continues in this spirit, you have everything in hand to enter the candidature phase in full confidence."

France decided not to bid for the 2020 Olympics after Annecy was humiliated in the race for the 2018 Winter Games, receiving only seven votes in an election won by Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The last successful French Olympic bid came from Albertville, which was awarded the 1992 Winter Games.