3-time Olympic champ Estanguet co-president for Paris 2024
PARIS (AP) Three-time Olympic canoeing champion Tony Estanguet will join Bernard Lapasset as co-president of the Paris bid for the 2024 Olympics, putting a top athlete at the forefront of the campaign.
Previous bids from Paris for the 2012 Olympics and from Annecy for the 2018 Winter Games were both unsuccessful, and were perceived to have fallen short because of excessive government interference.
Estanguet, one of France's most well-liked athletes and an IOC member, now takes up a more prominent role as Paris competes against Rome; Hamburg, Germany; Budapest, Hungary, and Los Angeles.
''Politicians should not lead an Olympic bid and that's a lesson to learned,'' Etienne Thobois, chief executive of Paris's bid, said Tuesday after announcing Estanguet's appointment. ''We've looked into the various elements of previous bids and try to understand what we did right and wrong. There is a consensus now that there are no better people to speak to sports people than sports people, and athletes will be very much at the heart of this bid.''
Paris, which last hosted the Olympics in 1924, was the favorite for the 2012 Games but was surpassed in the final days of the campaign by London.
''It's not about pushing the politicians aside,'' Thobois said in a conference call. ''It's a case of recognizing that sports people should lead the bid with the full support of the political world, which is necessary if you want to develop a good Olympics.''
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo expressed early reticence when the French capital was considering a bid but ''is now really on board,'' Thobois said.
''It is also very important that this bid has the support of all three levels of government which provides certainty to all our pledges,'' Hidalgo said. ''We will show how our vision fits perfectly with the social, environmental and infrastructure plans of the city.''
Paris made its announcement a few hours before the final deadline for cities to submit bids to the International Olympic Committee. Paris is competing against four other cities - Rome, Los Angeles, Hamburg and Budapest.
With two years to go until the deciding vote, Paris is actively playing down talk of being the favorite.
''I've heard that before. This is the last thing you want to care about right now,'' Thobois said. ''There is a lot of work ahead of us. This is the kind of question we will ask ourselves in the middle of September 2017.''
Paris has strong arguments, including France's handling of big sporting events, good transportation and infrastructure, and landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Chateau de Versailles' sweeping gardens.
Paris wants to host long-distance swimming and a leg of the triathlon in the Seine river, starting out from the Eiffel Tower.
Cycling's time trial would also start there and end at Versailles, while beach volleyball would be held next to the Eiffel Tower - originally an idea from the 2012 bid - while the Mediterranean port city of Marseille would host the sailing events.
With France hosting football's European Championship next year and golf's Ryder Cup in 2018, Paris bidders hope to carry on that sporting momentum.
''The French people have a passion not just for some but for all Olympic sport and this passion is embedded in French culture,'' Estanguet said. ''The 2024 Games in Paris will add to this passion.''
Although the bid budget is 60 million euros ($67 million), there are no figures yet for how much hosting the games might cost, although Thobois said ''infrastructure costs are low.''