Reporting From Paris, France – Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo assured the visiting International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission (EC) team Sunday morning that her city is “ready right now” to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Arriving to the city Saturday after completing a three-day visit to Paris’ rival Los Angeles, the IOC’s 11-member team met with Paris 2024 to open a day of intensive closed-door meetings at the Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel. They’ll review the bid books and watch presentations that respond to questions that were sent to the bid in advance.
Two Commission members, Tsunekazu Takeda of Japan and Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden who were absent from the LA visit due to illness will not attend the Paris inspection.
In her opening remarks, Hidalgo said “We have one goal during these few days: to convince you that Paris is the right city, with the right vision, at the right moment.”
“The right city with world-class venues and accommodation, and the best public transport in the world, ready right now.
“With financial and political stability and support, ready right now.
“And with a global profile, to inspire the world.”
Her comments respond to LA 2024 claims last week that the U.S. bid offers the safest, lowest risk option to the IOC – and with all venues already existing, planned or temporary – the seven year lead time to organize the Games is more than enough to deliver. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti emphasized that the right Games (for the IOC) were available in LA now, so “why wait?”
But Hidalgo added that it is “at the right moment, as the no risk option, because we have all the necessary guarantees in place.”
IOC EC Chief Patrick Baumann said Friday that seven years (organization time) would be a “luxury” to LA 2024 but on Sunday he expressed “Paris is always a good idea.”
He said Paris has a “strong focus on sustainability and legacy.”
“Paris has a special place in the Olympic Movement,” he added, referring to the initial meeting that took place in the city in 1894 to launch the modern Olympic Games, and the two previous Games held in the city in 1900 and 1924.
Paris officials claim 85 per cent of the venues are ready, with only the Aquatics venue and Olympic Village required to be constructed if the Games go to the French Capital, the latter being one of the most costly and risky projects for any Olympic Games. They claim, however, the development that is being proposed for the Village is ready to start.
LA 2024 has proposed the well-equipped UCLA campus for the Olympic Village, a zero risk option for the IOC. But Sunday Paris 2024 officials said a new Village will be a great option for the City.
“We think that [the Olympic Village at St. Denis] is one of the strong points, we started from a blank sheet, we chose a site that is most meaningful,” Michaël Aloïsio, Deputy Director Paris 2024 said.
He explained the location was close the the Olympic Stadium and other key venues, and that athletes have said it would enable them to “design the Village of our dreams.”
He went on to say that the development had a critical legacy, one to address the housing needs in the region.
“It would be very complicated to freeze this project because the housing is needed.”
“We can’t sideline it for four years,” Aloïsio explained in reference to the possibility of hosting the Games in 2028 instead of 2024 if the IOC decides to award both editions of Games in September this year to LA and Paris, as has been discussed.
The meeting Sunday takes place the same day and a short distance from where the French Nation inaugurates its newly elected President Emmanuel Macron. Elected last Sunday, Macron spoke to IOC President Thomas Bach last Tuesday to express his support for the bid. Local reports say that he will meet the EC Tuesday morning at the conclusion of the Commission’s work in Paris.
Paris 2024 Co-Chair Tony Estanguet told the IOC “President Macron looks forward to meeting and working closely with you in your visit.”
“He will be with us all the way to Lima and hopefully beyond.”