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  • Paris Olympics Fest Draws 1 Million


    Young fencers on the mat at the Champs Elysee. (ATR) 
    (ATR) A festival of Olympic sports has drawn as many as 1 million to the Champs Elysee on the eve of the release of a crucial IOC report in the 2012 bids. Madrid also is staging a giant public event to boost the profile of the Spanish bid for the Games.

    "I think we are able to receive all the world in Paris in 2012," Mayor Bertrand Delanoe tells Around the Rings about his confidence in the bid.

    "Work, work, work, work," is what he says Paris must do in this final month to the IOC vote July 6 in Singapore.

    Paris organizers managed to create perhaps the biggest spectacle so far of any of the cities in the 2012 campaign, despite the bid?s usually low-key style.

    All 28 Olympic sports were represented in at least mini-fashion on the famous promenade, many with youngsters showing off the early stages of their athletic development.

    Some of the more ambitious temporary venues, erected in the space of just about 10 hours, included an athletics track, swimming pool, boxing ring and basketball court. The Champs Elysee was shut Saturday night to put all the pieces together.

    The event has received huge press attention in France, with more than 50 TV crews lined-up on a scaffold above the scene for the opening ceremony, a parade of athletes, Olympians and officials walking down the track from the Arc de Triomphe. One of the New York Times top sports columnists was even on hand to witness the extravaganza.

    The budget for th
    A portion of the flag that will stretch for 2.5 km in Madrid Sunday night. 
    e promotion ran into the millions, with the bill paid by the office of the Mayor of Paris and a group of sponsors.

    Madrid is the only other one of the 2012 bid cities with a big event Sunday, staging a 16-sport festival around the Plaza de Cibeles. The fountained plaza is also the terminating point for the unfurling of what?s claimed to be the biggest flag in the world, 2.5 km long.

    Turnout in Madrid is estimated at 500,000.

    Madrid also hosts the World Cup Triathlon stop this weekend at Casa de Campo, proposed venue for the sport in the bid.

    On the scene coverage and in-depth reaction to the report of the IOC 2012 Evaluation Commission on June 6, only at, for subscribers only.