(ATR) European Parliament's President is throwing his support behind the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic bid.
Paris 2024 co-chair Bernard Lapasset presents to European Parliament. (EP)
A Paris 2024 delegation featuring co-chairman Bernard Lapasset and new French sports minister and Olympian Laura Flessel attended European Parliament on June 6 to present the bid for the Games. Before their closing statements, EP President Antonio Tajani spoke on behalf of the legislative body and backed the project.
“For Europe this is a major opportunity to show off our most beautiful cities, which of course includes Paris, to host those Olympics,” said Tajani.
“It’s not just about a French candidacy; it’s about a European bid as I see it. Of course we want to see the French flag there, but we want to make clear that this is a European candidacy for 2024.”
To demonstrate the solidarity of the EU, Tajani also says the EU flag should fly alongside those of the participating European countries during the Olympic Games.
“We want to win the Olympics as Europeans,” Tajani continued. “We will see whether the various countries are up to seeing the European flag flying alongside their national flags.”
While Tajani affirms the EP's support for the Paris bid, no official vote of the 751 Members of Parliament was taken during the meeting.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani (EP)
Paris is seeking to become the first European city to host the Games since London in 2012 – the city that beat Paris to host those Games in the final round of voting by the International Olympic Committee. The first Olympics in South America and a trio of Games in Asia have left the European Union eager to recapture the Olympic Flame.
However, citizens of Europe have recently turned the cold shoulder to the Games, with opposition parties forcing referendums and political decisions on bids in Hamburg, Germany, Rome, Italy and Budapest, Hungary during the 2024 bidding race alone.
EP member Marc Tarabella acknowledged this trend and hopes the support that Parliament is offering will help the EU’s latest bid.
“We’ve seen the other candidates, the bids with Rome, Budapest and Hamburg and they all dropped out so we’re still alive and kicking,” Tarabella said. “And what we would like to do is officially support the candidacy, the bid of Paris for the 2024 Olympics.”
Lapasset also acknowledged Paris’ recent bidding failures and citizen opposition but says the majority of France is now behind their plans for 2024.
Paris sports minister Laura Flessel represents Paris 2024 at European Parliament. (EP)
“We were fed up with successive referenda, each time turning out to be a failure when you’re trying to persuade people to vote for an Olympic candidacy which doesn’t express the strength of our Olympian values which is supposed to be what gives hope to a new generation,” the Paris 2024 co-chair said.
“More than 80 percent of people under 25 support our candidacy of Paris 2024 and 75 percent in general support it,” Lapasset continued. “We’ve achieved the challenge of mobilizing the whole of France to show the strength behind this candidacy.”
As the IOC contemplates awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games to candidates Los Angeles and Paris, rumors have circulated that a deal is already in place with the IOC to give Paris 2024 and LA 2028. However, IOC president Thomas Bach and leaders of the LA and Paris bids insist no such deal already exists.
“There’s still no confirmation from IOC.” Lapasset reiterates. “It’s a rumor that has come out – it must have an origin somewhere – but I think the game is far from over and we certainly haven’t been asked for any such thing or contacted about it.
“The report that came out was extremely vague. We’ve been saying since the start we are candidates for 2024. That’s our commitment to France and to the French and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
The IOC Executive Board convenes on June 9 to hear the feasibility of a dual Olympic award compiled by the working group of four IOC vice presidents. Until further word from the IOC, a vote for the 2024 host city will go on as scheduled at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru on Sep. 13.
“We are all waiting impatiently for an IOC position,” Lapasset insists.
Written by Kevin Nutley
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