Paris 2024 officials engage public for new ideas on bid

PARIS (AP) Scalded by their previous failures to win Olympic hosting rights, Paris bid leaders want to engage with the public for new ideas.

The Paris 2024 bid committee this week launched what they call the ''the biggest ever public engagement initiative in Olympic bid history,'' offering the French public to devise ideas for the bid.

Paris, which hosted the Olympics in 1900 and 1924, failed in bids for the 1992, 2008, and 2012 Games. France also decided not to bid for 2020 after Annecy was humiliated in the race for the 2018 Winter Games.

This time, bid officials took their time before announcing their candidacy, making sure their project would be backed by the government, the Paris city hall, and would enjoy a high level of public support.

The engagement strategy could have been better in the previous bids, Paris 2024 co-chairman Tony Estanguet said on Wednesday.

''This initiative is the result of learning from the previous bids and also defining the best strategy to win,'' Estanguet said in a phone interview. ''From the beginning, we have been concerned by the engagement, and how we can really tackle this point in the best manner. With this strategy, we offer the chance to everyone to have an impact on the bid. It's not just a yes or a no. We want to share the bid with people across France.''

The first step of the plan took place late Tuesday with a meeting involving 200 youths, aged 15 to 25, from across France. There are three main themes for which the public can have their say: Sport and Society, Economic and Regional Development, Games Celebration and Engagement.

The best 100 ideas that will come out of the different meetings being held until September, or posted directly online, will be considered for inclusion in the Paris dossier.

Paris is competing against Rome, Los Angeles, and Budapest, Hungary. The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city in September 2017.

Asked about the potential impact of the engagement strategy on IOC members, Estanguet insisted on the importance of targeting the French first.

''For now, we believed that our goal is to build a bid which will leave a strong legacy for French people,'' Estanguet said. ''But for sure it will also give us some strength to share this plan with the IOC later.''

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