June 03, 2015

PARIS (AP) The head of Paris' proposed bid for the 2024 Olympics wants athletes and sports officials at the front of the candidacy, after much-criticized failures by the French capital to land the games in the recent past.

Bernard Lapasset said Paris bid promoters laid out their vision and an expected budget of $4 billion during a meeting Tuesday with IOC officials in Lausanne, Switzerland, as part of the committee's new invitation phase. He said 60 percent to 80 percent of possible venues have already been built.

Paris promoters will meet Thursday in part to discuss the date for an official announcement of the city's candidacy, which ''we hope will be very soon now,'' Lapasset told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Several dates are being contemplated, including the Bastille Day national holiday on July 14.

A longtime rugby executive who now heads the French Committee for International Sport, Lapasset emphasized a ''new approach'' for Paris with sporting officials and athletes at the forefront - not government officials who were more in the lead when Paris lost bids for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

If one message differentiates this bid from those failures, Lapasset said, ''it is saying that the sporting world is leading the Paris bid today. That's essential.''

His second message is that ''from the start'' those sports leaders have the backing of city, regional and national authorities as well as other partners in France.

''These two major elements underpin the mindset we're bringing to the candidacy for Paris in 2024,'' Lapasset said.

He was in Lausanne with three-time canoeing Olympic champion Tony Estanguet, who is also leading the Paris bid.

The deadline for submission of bids is Sept. 15, and the International Olympic Committee will select the host city in 2017.

Boston, Rome, and Hamburg, Germany, are declared bidders, and Budapest, Hungary, is expected to enter the race soon.

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This story has been corrected to show that Paris promoters will meet Thursday, not Wednesday.

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