‘We Are At The Top’ Paris Mayor Says of Olympic Bid

Reporting from Roland Garros in Paris, France – Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said Monday that her city’s bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024 is at the top of its game.

Paris 2024 Co-Chair Tony Estanguet speak to reporters at Roland Garros (GamesBids Photo)

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (right) and Paris 2024 Co-Chair Tony Estanguet speak to reporters at Roland Garros (GamesBids Photo)

“We are at the top and we are going to stay there,” the Mayor said, later denying that she thought Paris was favorite in the race with Los Angeles.

“We are ready and supported which is an extraordinary advantage to be the best.

“It’s an open competition like all competitions.  I do believe in our chances.”

Her remarks were to reporters at Roland Garros, the proposed Tennis and Boxing Venue for the Paris 2024 bid, after GamesBids.com asked whether there was anything the bid could do to improve.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Sports Director Christophe Dubi agreed and said “I think you would have to be really picky here in order to find weak points.

However, he said “there is still some work that needs to be done.”

The IOC Evaluation Commission spent the second day of its visit to Paris Monday touring proposed bid venues for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Among the venues the Commission visited in a busy morning were the Eiffel Tower, the site of the proposed Olympic Village, the Stade de France, Le Bourget Media Village and Le Zenith/La Villette.  The group had lunch on a riverboat with a meal prepared by Lenotre Caterer and celebrity Chef Thierry Marx.

Commision Chair Patrick Baumann compared Paris’ venues with those of Los Angeles, Paris’ rival bid that welcomed the team for an inspection last week.  He said they were “equally mind blowing” referencing the description he had of the U.S. bid venues last week.

He said the commission split up into three groups to tour the sites that were too numerous for the entire commission to cover in one day.

The visit to the Olympic Village site in Saint-Denis would have been one of the most critical among the venues the Commission saw Monday.  If Paris wins the Games in 2024 the (USD) $1.8 billion project will be funded with 70 per cent private funds and 30 per cent from taxpayers.  As part of a bigger project to fulfill the housing needs of the area, an adjacent property is already under construction.

IOC 2024 Evaluation Commission Chair Patick Baumann runs with a school boy at the Stade de France in Paris on May 15 (Paris 2024 Photo)

IOC 2024 Evaluation Commission Chair Patick Baumann runs with a school boy at the Stade de France in Paris on May 15 (Paris 2024 Photo)

Baumann said “this is a site which is quite obviously located very well with regard to all of the venues.

“The concept is designed to be very compact.”

He also commended the thought that the bid put into the Games’ legacy.

Paris 2024 officials say if they are not awarded the 2024 Games the construction will continue without the needed Olympic configuration, and it won’t be available for any future Games, including in 2028.  Central to the bid’s concept and minutes from the Olympic Stadium, the Village cannot be built elsewhere.

IOC members were shown the Olympic Village plans at the site in an existing building that has been converted from an early 20th century power plant to a movie studio used by French blockbuster film producer Luc Besson.  During the Games, the studio will become a dining hall for over five thousand athletes.

Los Angeles has a “no risk” Olympic Village plan that will leverage the well-equipped student campus at UCLA to provide athlete accommodation with no construction required by the Games.

Construction in Saint-Denis adjacent to the property planned to occupy the proposed Olympic Village (Paris 2024 Photo)

Construction in Saint-Denis adjacent to the property planned to occupy the proposed Olympic Village (Paris 2024 Photo)

Paris’ plans also call for the construction of a new $112 million Aquatics Center and media accommodations adjacent to the International Broadcast Center and Main Press Center at Le Bourget.

The IOC has commissioned its own public opinion polls of both cities as part of the evaluation process, but on Sunday Baumann said the number would not be announced prior to the publishing of the final evaluation report June 5.  In the past, the IOC has shared the poll results with bid cities who have often revealed them to reporters before the end of the visit.

Los Angles point to an independent survey last year that showed 88 per cent support of the bid by Angelenos, while the most recent survey in a poll commissioned by Paris 2024 revealed 88 per cent of young Parisians between 15 and 24 back Paris.

IOC members were hosted at the official welcome dinner at the Petit Palias Sunday night.

On Monday night the team is invited to an IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship Match between France and Slovenia to be held in the Capital.  The visit wraps up Tuesday with a closing press conference and a visit by newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron before the IOC team heads back to headquarters in Lausanne to prepare the final evaluation report.

The IOC will elect either LA or Paris to host the 2024 Olympic Games September 13 in Lima, Peru.

Follow GamesBids.com on Facebook or Twitter for on-the scene coverage in Los Angeles and Paris during IOC Evaluation Commission visits.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil