May 14, 2017 / 5:56 PM / 2 months ago

Cautious IOC commission hails 'exceptional' Paris presentation

3 Min Read

The logo of the Paris candidacy for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games is seen at the entrance of the Le Bourget exhibition center, proposed site of the media village and the press center, during the press tour of the International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission, in Le Bourget, near Paris, May 15, 2017.Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) evaluation commission hailed the Paris 2024 bid presentation as 'exceptional' and 'well detailed' at the end of the opening day of a three-day visit to the French capital on Sunday.

"Our friends of Paris 2024 presented us with an exceptional and well-detailed bid presentation," Patrick Baumann, chair of the commission, told a news conference.

Baumann, however, was careful not to put Paris ahead or behind its only rival, Los Angeles, which was visited by the evaluation commission earlier this week.

"They are two outstanding cities, each with its typical aspects," the Swiss said. "There is a strong Olympic spirit in both cities."

The commission's visit officially started on the day French president Emmanuel Macron, a fervent supporter of the Paris bid, took power.

Centrist Macron, who was elected last Sunday after beating far right leader Marine Le Pen in the run-off, will meet the commission's members on Tuesday at the Elysee Palace.

"We appreciate the message of support (for the bid) he has already sent us," said Baumann.

"I will be on your side in your enterprise for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games," Macron had said in a speech at the Paris City Hall a few hours after his election.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo adresses the IOC Evaluation Commission session for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, Frande, May 14, 2017, as the International Olympic Committee visits the French capital.Franck Fife/Pool

An air of uncertainty has been hanging over the bidding process with the IOC considering a proposal that would mean the 2024 and 2028 Games both being awarded on Sept. 13 during a congress in Lima.

While Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti softened his stance on the subject this week by saying "any Olympic win is an Olympic win", his Paris counterpart Anne Hidalgo on Sunday said that Paris was ready "right now".

Pressed by the media on the matter, the Paris team and Baumann said only 2024 was being assessed.

"We are still in a process where we assess a potential candidacy for 2024," said Baumann. "2024-2028 is not a matter of discussion."

"We didn't discuss at all the 2024-28 topic," said Paris 2024 co-chair Tony Estanguet, who would head the Local Organising Committee (LOCOG) should the French capital be awarded the Games a century after it last hosted the sports extravaganza.

Paris unveiled another high-profile supporter in former France soccer great and Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

"I was involved in several bids but this one is really close to our hearts," said Zidane, now a Paris 2024 ambassador.

Other additions to the list of official supporters were former France soccer coach Laurent Blanc and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema.

The IOC evaluation team will be taken to almost all the potential Olympic venues on Monday before another day of discussions with the bid committee on Tuesday.

Editing by Clare Fallon

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