IOC Assesses Paris 2012 Olympic Bid
PARIS (AP) _ International Olympic Committee members began the task of assessing Paris’ bid for the 2012 Games, though they were not planning to see much of the glamorous city itself.
The 13-member IOC panel, headed by chairwoman Nawal el Moutawakel, was spending much of Wednesday listening to 2012 bid presentations behind closed doors at their hotel.
Paris’ bid committee began presenting the first of its 17 themes to the panel, with another six to follow throughout the day, said Paris 2012 press officer Jerome Lenfant..
Each presentation takes 30 to 90 minutes and is followed by questions from the IOC panel.
Visits to the Olympic sites, the Eiffel Tower and the proposed Olympic Village site start Thursday.
``Paris needs the Olympics. We need it to form a part of Paris’ identity for the 21st century,″ said Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe.
He played down his city’s status.
``I don’t think we’re the favorite, just a good candidate like the other cities,″ Delanoe said. ``We want to win, but we’re not aggressive _ just passionate.″
The French capital is the fourth stop in a five-city jaunt that has already taken the IOC commission to Madrid, London and New York. The panel’s last stop will be Moscow next week.
The Olympic host will be decided in a vote by the full IOC in Singapore on July 6.
Paris has been under the Olympic spell. The 2012 logo adorns the facades of the National Assembly and City Hall; lights in the colors of the logo are projected at night from the bridges of the Seine; and, metros and buses have been decorated with Olympic bid slogans.
Inspectors arrived Tuesday for a four-day tour of the city considered the favorite to stage the Summer Games.
After greeting El Moutawakel at Paris’ main airport Tuesday, Delanoe and Lamour traveled to the City Hall metro stop, or Hotel de Ville _ now adorned with over 100 Olympic photos featuring Olympic track and field champion Marie-Jose Perec and marathon winner Alain Mimoum.
Paris previously hosted the Olympics in 1900 and 1924, but lost bids for the 1992 and 2008 Games.
On Thursday, the panel will visit the two Olympic clusters and the Batignolles Olympic village. Each cluster is situated 10 minutes from the Olympic village, as are 18 of the proposed 30 sites.
Thursday’s tour coincides with strikes by French trade unions. The protest is not connected to the Olympic bid, but threatens to give IOC inspectors a taste of French labor unrest.
However, the strike is set for the southeast of Paris, while the IOC will be visiting sites in the north and west of the city.
``France is a democratic country, maybe this is part of our charm,″ Delanoe said. ``But all the unions _ without exception _ say they are behind us.″
The north cluster holds the Stade de France _ the capital’s main stadium and site of the World Cup final game in 1998 and the 2003 World Track and Field Championship.
On the western cluster sits Roland Garros, site of the French Open; Longchamp race course; and the Parc des Princes soccer stadium.
The IOC panel is also to visit the Eiffel Tower, the landmark that would form the backdrop for Olympic beach volleyball.
On Friday, the panel will have lunch with Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, then dine at the Elysee Palace with President Jacques Chirac.