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  • French Olympic Boss Rules Out Paris 2020 Bid if Annecy Fails


    07/04/11

    Denis Masseglia and Charles Beigbeder. (ATR)
    (ATR) French Olympic committee president Denis Masseglia tells Around the Rings that it would be "very difficult" for Paris to bid for the 2020 Summer Games if Annecy fails in its Winter Olympics campaign.

    "The situation is not the same as for the bid for 2012. The needs of the IOC are not the same. It is more complicated, it is more difficult than seven years ago," he told ATR after an Annecy 2018 press conference Monday.

    Admitting that assembling a 2020 bid candidacy would be an enormous challenge in the next 12 months, he said: "It is so hard that you cannot go directly two years before the vote of the IOC [at the Session in 2013].

    "It's very complicated to be at that [high] level."

    Asked by ATR if he was ruling out a 2020 bid, Masseglia added: "It seems that it will be too difficult."

    The French NOC would have to submit its interest in bidding for 2020 by an IOC deadline of Sept. 1

    The NOC chief had earlier been asked about the possibilities of a Summer Olympic bid if Annecy was unsuccessful but failed to answer the question.

    In knocking down the idea of a 2020 bid, Masseglia's position contradicts what sports minister Chantal Jouanno told a media briefing in the Alpine town in February. ATR was present at that meeting with a small group of Olympic journalists.

    Jouanno had said she expected France to bid for the 2020 Olympics if Annecy fails in its efforts to secure the 2018 Winter Games.

    "If we win the Winter Games in 2018, we won't be a candidate. But if we don't win, probably, because it has been too much time that France didn't organize an Olympic Games," she said.

    Jouanno wouldn't single out Paris as the most likely French city to enter the 2020 Olympic bid race, saying
    Annecy 2018 officials meet the press in Durban. (ATR)
    only that "many cities would like this".

    Masseglia said the Annecy bid team was focusing all its efforts on landing the 2018 Games.

    Bid president Charles Beigbeder told reporters that he and his colleagues were trying to convince IOC members that now was the right time to take the Olympics back to France after a long hiatus.

    He said Annecy had learned the lessons of Paris' painful loss to London in the 2012 Olympic bid battle.

    Bid sources tell ATR that nearly 50 percent of Wednesday's presentation will be in English, in stark contrast to the Paris pitch to members in 2005 which was almost entirely conducted in French.

    ATR understands that influential IOC member Jean-Claude Killy has specifically requested extra lines to say in English for his speech.

    Disputing the suggestion that Annecy was languishing well behind its bid rivals - Munich and PyeongChang, Beigbeder said the final presentation to the IOC was "more important than ever" to convince IOC members of the merits of Annecy's bid.

    Beigbeder said triple Olympic downhill champion Killy had a critical role to play in the presentation.

    He also insisted that the absence of French president Nicolas Sarkozy in Durban for the final hours of lobbying would not hurt Annecy's chances.

    "We are very proud to have the prime minister [François Fillon] at the presentation. He is extremely powerful and key to lobbying tomorrow."

    Asked by ATR how crucial the final 24 hours of lobbying were for Annecy, Beigbeder said: "It is important. We have very few hours to lobby because they [IOC members] are just arriving now and some tomorrow."

    Written by Mark Bisson

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