Paris: Olympic officials began their first day inspecting the Paris 2024 bid with a visit to the Eiffel Tower, the iconic backdrop to the triathlon start should the French capital be chosen to host the Games.
The IOC’s 11-member evaluation commission, who examined rival bidders Los Angeles last week, 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 (eight miles) 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-Amélie 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 will be visiting all of the proposed 2024 sites in and around Paris, like the home of the French Open Roland Garros but also the non-sporting 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.