Macron to boost Paris 2024 bid at Lima vote

Tuesday May 16 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron (left) is greeted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to talks at the Chancellery in Berlin on May 15, 2017. PHOTO | JOHN MACDOUGALL |

French President Emmanuel Macron (left) is greeted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel prior to talks at the Chancellery in Berlin on May 15, 2017. PHOTO | JOHN MACDOUGALL |  AFP


French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Lima for the IOC's September 13 vote on the 2024 Olympics, Paris bid team member Guy Drut announced on Tuesday.

Drut confirmed the new French head of state's presence in Peru for the crucial vote after talks between Macron and the IOC's evaluation commission over coffee and croissants at the Elysee Palace.

"Emmanuel Macron told Patrick Baumann (head of the IOC's inspection team) that he would definitely be in Lausanne for the IOC's debriefing and also in Lima on September 13," Drut, France's 110m hurdle champion at the 1976 Games, said.

Paris are battling with Los Angeles for the right to succeed 2020 hosts Tokyo and stage the Games in seven years time.

Macron's commitment to securing the Olympics was underlined by his one hour meeting with the IOC taking place just two days after his inauguration as France's youngest president at 39 years of age since Napoleon.

"This is evidence of commitment. It is not just a word, there is a unity up to the highest level of the state," suggested Paris 2024 co-president Bernard Lapasset.

"This could help our candidacy for sure - the new president, who receives the commission just two days after his nomination, and who is the same age as our co-president Tony Estanguet.

"The members of the bid committee were very touched by this gesture," a spokesman for the Paris bid team added.

Macron is a strong supporter of the Paris bid to host the Olympics for the first time in a century and even before Sunday's investiture he had telephoned Olympic chief Thomas Bach to confirm his support.

On Monday, he told Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo the bid stimulated the kind of national optimism he hopes to generate during his mandate.

"I'm right with you on your venture for the Olympics, Paralympics and the 2024 objective," he declared.

His decision to attend the Lima vote adds significant political capital to the Paris bid, but the presence of presidents or political leaders at recent votes has proved mixed.

Former French president Jacques Chirac's decision to press the flesh with IOC delegates at the 2005 vote in Singapore for the 2012 Games when Paris were hot favourites was spectacularly undone by Britain's then prime minister Tony Blair's more determined networking amongst Olympic delegates with London upsetting the odds.

Blair, in his autobiography A Journey, recalled: "(The French) affected an attitude of 'we are going to win and aren't you lucky when we do' and tried to sweep people along as if invincible - very French.

"We affected an attitude of 'we humbly beg to offer our services to your great movement' and paddled and conspired like crazy underneath."

At the IOC's 2009 vote in Copenhagen even the star presence of then-US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle could not prevent Chicago getting knocked out in the first round of voting with Rio awarded the 2016 Games.

This time around the Los Angeles 2024 team have said they are cautious about asking Obama's successor Donald Trump to attend in Lima.

Los Angeles bid chairman Casey Wasserman said in London last week that he had heard "very bad" stories from the Copenhagen vote when some International Olympic Committee members were said to be furious to be kept waiting outside the venue whilst Obama's security detail swept the building having flown in to give his support to Chicago.

It is said to have cost Chicago votes.