IOC officials impressed with Paris Olympic sites

Patrick Baumann (right), head of the 2024 Olympic Games evaluation panel, and co-president of the Paris bid Tony Estanguet running with children at the Stade de France.
Patrick Baumann (right), head of the 2024 Olympic Games evaluation panel, and co-president of the Paris bid Tony Estanguet running with children at the Stade de France. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Olympic officials admitted that they would have to "really nitpick" to find fault after spending Monday inspecting potential sites for the Paris bid for the 2024 Summer Games.

The 11-member evaluation commission from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which 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 landmarks, 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 more than 80 per cent covering 22 sports within a radius of 10km, 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 infrastructure also serves the people," he said beside the stadium's athletics track.

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

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

"To find fault, you really need to nitpick," he said at the end of the inspection of various facilities in the city. "We had confirmation that with the Champs-de-Mars, the Grand Palais, Roland Garros, everything's there."

"We were very happy to see many Olympic, world and European champions. It's clear that the passion and enthusiasm for these Games and for the different stadiums are great and impressive."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2017, with the headline 'IOC officials impressed with Paris Olympic sites'. Print Edition | Subscribe