Reporting from Paris, France – Paris’ 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid Tuesday received a message of resounding support from newly-inaugurated French President Emmanual Macron when in his first week in power he welcomed members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission to the Elysée Palace.
Along with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the Paris 2024 team, the Commission had breakfast at the official residence of the French President where he offered support for the Olympic project.
It was also confirmed that Macron, who was wearing a Paris 2024 branded tie and lapel pin as he received his guests, will travel to Lausanne, Switzerland in July joining Paris 2024 in a technical presentation to the IOC. There has been no decision yet on his attendance at the more critical final presentation in Lima on September 13 when the IOC elects the winner of the race.
“[The President] formally said that he wanted to accompany the bid right up to its delivery,” Paris 2024 Co-Chair Tony Estanguet said, “he said he wanted to attend the decisive moment [in Lima] but didn’t immediately confirm.”
In a tweet, Estanguet said “thank you, Mr. President, for your welcome and your commitment to us. Together we win.”
Macron responded on Twitter “congratulations to team
#Paris2024, your dynamism has already enlightened France.”
During the Commission’s visit to Paris’ bid rival Los Angeles last week, U.S. President Donald Trump did not meet with the visiting team. LA 2024 officials have yet to confirm whether Trump will attend in either Lausanne or Lima.
IOC Evaluation Commission Chief Patrick Baumann said “we would be both happy and proud,” if Macron attended the meeting in Lausanne in July, but he didn’t seem to think that it would have an impact on the race.
“There [are no concerns] related to whether delegations are made of X or Y when it comes to the vote in Lima, Peru.”
However that’s up to about 85 eligible IOC voters to decide, and an inspirational presentation before the vote could tilt the playing field moments before ballots are cast – something Paris knows well. In 2005 when London defeated Paris on a final ballot to host in 2012 it was Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair who smooth-talked IOC members, even as French President Jacques Chirac attended the meeting, to push London to a narrow victory. Chirac was also accused of making various gaffes made during his visit.
Baumann summed up the two three-day visits to LA and Paris saying “we are fortunate that today we have two candidatures that do not present major risks that we have been able to highlight.”
He also recycled the “dynamic duo” nick-name he used last week for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and bid Chief Casey Wasserman and applied it to Paris’ Co-Chairs Estanguet and Bernard Lapasset. He said the venues for both cities were mind-blowing.
On Sunday he said that it would be impossible to score either bid less than 10 out of 10, leaving many scratching their heads as to which bid won the week.
Estanguet said “after so many weeks of working and preparing I am so satisfied tonight because everything went smoothly and it was great.”
Hidalgo simply said “we are at the top, and we are going to stay there.”
The IOC Evaluation Commission is set to return to IOC headquarters in Lausanne later Tuesday to work on the detailed report that is due to be published for IOC members July 5. On July 11, Paris and Los Angeles are scheduled to present to the IOC membership in the special all-members session and technical briefing that Macron has agreed to attend. Also on the agenda that week is the report of a panel of four IOC Vice Presidents who will make recommendation on bid reforms, including the possibility of awarding the ’24 and ’28 Games to both Los Angeles and Paris.
Paris’ Estanguet said Monday that the IOC Commission has not discussed the possible double-warding this week even as Vice President Uğur Erdener is part of the team. He said he was not expecting to hear from the IOC until the July report is presented to the IOC membership.
“I can just tell you that the sooner the better,” Estanguet said on the possibility of implementing any changes to the 2024 process, “as soon as possible.”
The IOC is set to elect the 2024 host city September 13, 2017 in Lima, Peru.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.