Macron Grants IOC First Elysee Meeting in Paris's Olympics PushBy
New French President spent hour with 2024 Olympic inspectors
France, U.S. cities are sole candidates to stage 2024 event
Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron wasted no time lending his support to Paris’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, granting his first domestic engagement to inspectors from the International Olympic Committee two days after he was sworn in.
Macron, 39, spent his first day in office meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. He then returned to Paris, spending an hour with an 11-member team of inspectors on Tuesday. The group were finishing a four-day trip to the French capital following a tour of Los Angeles, the sole other bidder.
The visiting IOC team, led by world basketball federation head Patrick Baumann, joined Macron on the steps of the Elysee Palace for a photo opportunity. The President, sporting a Paris 2024 tie, then gripped each IOC delegate for a short chat before they departed. He’d been provided with a background briefing on each member before the meeting.
Both bids are “equally mind-blowing,” Baumann told journalists on Monday.
The inspectors will now prepare a report of the trips that will be sent to the near-100 IOC members eligible to participate in the planned final vote in Lima, Peru, in September. The Paris and Los Angeles pitches are similar in that they are both saying they can provide the IOC with certainty at a time of crisis for the organizers of the world’s biggest sporting event, who have struggled to find cities prepared to organize the competition. Paris is prepared to spend about 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion), with a mix of private and public funds, while Los Angeles has committed to a privately funded $6 billion project.
Rival bids to Paris and Los Angeles -- including offers from Rome, Hamburg and Budapest -- were abandoned following opposition from local residents. There was a similar lack of enthusiasm to host the 2020 Winter games, with Kazakhstan capital Almaty the only rival to winning bidder Beijing.
Uncertainty surrounding the September vote centers on the work of a senior IOC group that’s assessing the feasibility of President Thomas Bach’s plan to award the 2028 games to the city that isn’t selected for 2024. Both Paris and Los Angeles have said they’re only focusing on staging the 2024 event.
Macron’s office confirmed he’ll travel to the July briefing where the IOC is expected to inform the candidates if it will award both the 2024 and 2028 games. That President has also committed to travel to Lima for the final vote.
“We are fortunate we have two candidatures that do not present major risks,” Baumann said at a press conference to mark the end of the visit. Macron’s presence at future meetings would be an honor for the IOC, he said.
The impact of Macron’s involvement in the bid is yet to be seen. Several other leaders who’ve tried to woo sporting officials have been left embarrassed in the past. Former U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009, to support Chicago’s bid to stage the 2016 games. That event went to Rio de Janeiro after the U.S. city was eliminated in the first round of voting.
In 2010, then British Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince William and former England soccer captain David Beckham talked late into the night with FIFA executives on the eve of the 2018 World Cup vote and were left expressing anger and frustration a day later when England’s bid got just two of the 22 votes on offer. The tournament went to Russia.
In contrast, London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics was supported by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who traveled to Singapore for the final vote in 2005 to lobby officials alongside Beckham. Paris was among the losing cities on that occasion.