Hard to find fault in Paris

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PARIS: Olympic of­fi­cials ad­mit­ted that they would have to “re­ally nit­pick” to find fault af­ter spend­ing Monday in­spect­ing po­ten­tial sites for the Paris 2024 bid.

The IOC’s 11-mem­ber eval­u­a­tion com­mis­sion, who ex­am­ined ri­val bid­ders Los An­ge­les last week, started their day with a visit to the Eiffel Tower, the iconic back­drop to the triathlon start should the French cap­i­tal be cho­sen to host the Games.

They had a bird’s eye view from the Tower of many pro­posed venues in­clud­ing the Champs-El­y­sees and Grand Palais, and Saint-De­nis to the north-east of the city where the Olympic vil­lage will be sit­u­ated.

The compact na­ture of Paris’ Olympic venues is of­fered as one of the bid’s main sell­ing points with over 80 per cent of venues cov­er­ing 22 sports within a ra­dius of 10 kilo­me­tres mak­ing “Paris an Olympic park.”

The bid in­spec­tors, led by Switzer­land’s Pa­trick Bau­mann, were then greeted at the Stade de France by Lil­ian Thu­ram who won the 1998 World Cup at the na­tional sta­dium.

“We have to se­duce them with emo­tion, that it would be fan­tas­tic if it was Paris, but also show that in­fras­truc­tures also serve the peo­ple,” Thu­ram said be­side the sta­dium’s athletics track.

Join­ing Thu­ram at the Stade de France to press home the virtues of choos­ing Paris were Bei­jing Games 100m swim­ming cham­pion Alain Bernard and mul­ti­ple Par­a­lympic cham­pion Marie-Amelie Le Fur.

Dur­ing the tour Bau­mann broke sweat by test­ing his sprint­ing prow­ess against a bunch of young­sters and grabbed the op­por­tu­nity to take a selfie with Tony Es­tanguet, France’s three-time Olympic ca­noe­ing cham­pion and the bid’s co-chair­man.

The Olympic bid exam board went on to visit all of the pro­posed 2024 sites in and around Paris, like the home of the French Open Roland Gar­ros but also the non­sport­ing sites like the Champs-de-Mars, the cen­tral Paris park which will stage beach vol­ley­ball should Paris and not Los An­ge­les win the IOC vote in Lima in Septem­ber.

“To find fault, you re­ally need to nit­pick,” said Bau­mann at the end of the in­spec­tion.

“We had con­fir­ma­tion that with the Champs-de-Mars, the Grand Palais, Roland Gar­ros, ev­ery­thing’s there!”

Af­ter rub­bing shoul­ders with French track and field gold medal­lists from the Paris-hosted World Athletics Cham­pi­onships in 2003 (Chris­tine Ar­ron, Muriel Hur­tis, Les­lie Djhone, Eu­nice Bar­ber), the Olympic of­fi­cials rounded off their day in the com­pany of three Olympic box­ing cham­pi­ons, Tony Yoka, Estelle Mos­sely (both 2016) and Brahim As­loum (2008).

“We were very happy to see many Olympic, world and Euro­pean cham­pi­ons,” said Bau­mann.

“It’s clear that the pas­sion and en­thu­si­asm for these Games and for the dif­fer­ent sta­di­ums are great and im­pres­sive.” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, speak­ing along­side Es­tanguet, stressed that “France wants to wel­come the world, France is be­hind us.

“Legacy is above all hu­man.” AFP

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