Paris gives backing to a 2024 Olympics bid

The likelihood of Paris making an official bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games took a giant step closer on Monday when the city's council voted in favour of proposing the city's candidacy to the International Olympic Committee.

Paris gives backing to a 2024 Olympics bid
Will Paris bid for the 2024 Games? Photo: AFP

On Monday morning the 163 city councillors in Paris gathered to vote on the question of whether Paris should bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games.

In the end the council gave its overwhelming backing to a bid, with most political parties in favour of throwing Paris's name into the ring.

The vote is seen as a decisive step on the road to officially announcing a bid, but a final decision is expected to be taken in June after a period of public consultation. Paris has until September 15th to announce it's nomination.

"Now we are off  on an Olympic adventure," said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo after the vote.


Hidalgo, who for a long time was reticent, has in recent months come round to the idea that Paris should host the Olympics exactly 100 years after it last held the Games.

With Paris now clearly in favour of bidding for the Games, the chances of an official candidacy being put forward are almost certain, but the onus will now move to the country's national Olympic committee which must co-sign any official nomination.

President Francois Hollande put his weight behind a Paris bid in November.

He is due to meet International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Thomas Bach in Lausanne on Thursday during an official visit to Switzerland.

A recent poll suggests the French public are also in favour with 61 percent supporting the idea of a Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

"France has the qualities to win" the Olympic race, said head of sport, Bernard Lapasset who headed an official committee that presented a report on the possible campaign to Hidalgo and the French government on Thursday. 

READ ALSO: What a Paris Olympic Games would look like

After handing over his report Lapasset said that France needed to "move as quickly as possible" onto negotiations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about a bid.

Lapasset said the Games could be organised for under €4.5 billion ($5 billion).

Even if Paris throws its hat into the ring it faces tough competition in what would be a fierce battle to convince the IOC it should host the 2024 Games.

The cities of Hamburg, Boston and Rome have already announced their intention to bid to host the Games.

A final decision will be taken by an IOC congress in Lima, Peru in mid-2017.

One other issue that may deter Paris is that memories are still fresh of when Paris suffered a traumatic loss, despite being the hot favourites, to London to host the 2012 edition.

Jean-Francois Lamour, a double Olympic fencing champion and sports minister when Paris lost its bid in 2005, said this was the last-chance saloon for the City of Light.

"A new defeat would mean the end of France's ambitions to host this magical competition," he said.


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How clean is the Seine and can it really be used for Paris Olympics outdoor swim events?

Three years until the Paris Olympics - and 33 years after then-President Jacques Chirac promised to transform the then-filthy Seine - how clean is the river that runs through the French capital?

How clean is the Seine and can it really be used for Paris Olympics outdoor swim events?
Swimmers flout the ban on swimming in the Seine in Paris during the 1946 heatwave. Photo: AFP

Olympic open water swimming events are scheduled to take place at the Pont d’Iéna, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower – which means the pressure is on to ensure that the water quality is good enough. And it is the big question at the LH forum in Le Havre, which opens today, where the state of the river will be a key topic on the agenda.

And the news is promising, but there is still much to do, according to officials.

Unlike Chirac, for whom a dip in the Seine in 1988 would have been insane, Arthur Germain – the son of Paris mayor and presidential candidate Anne Hidalgo – swam the 800km length of the river this summer while wearing equipment to test water quality in real time. 

He told Le Parisien that his Seine swim lasted 50 days, and that he finished it ‘without having the slightest pimple or stomach ache’, adding that water quality in the river across the Île de France region was better than researchers had expected.

ALSO READ Five things to know about the Paris 2024 Olympics

Since the 1970s a number of fish species have returned to the river as water treatment works have improved, increasing oxygen levels in the water.

“There were three species of fish … there are now more than 30,” said Christophe Poupart of the Agence de l’Eau Seine-Normandie (AESN), responsible for monitoring the state of the river and its basin. 

But pesticide pollution remains a serious problem, he said. “Between 2013 and 2019, the number of rivers poisoned by nitrates has doubled.” 

Ecological pressure on the river is massive, according to Poupart. About 30 percent of the population of France live near the Seine, the smallest of the four major French rivers. 

Despite that, Dan Angelescu, founder of Fluidion which measures bacteria levels under the Alexandre-III bridge in Paris, said: “We see signs of improvement, the quality of bathing water could be satisfactory even in Paris. But it will require close monitoring.”

Swimming in the river in Paris has been illegal since 1923. 

Further along the river, towards the estuary, conditions aren’t quite so promising – in part because of the heavy industry along the river in Normandy.

“France has five major plastic producers, two of which are located on the Normandy Seine. As a result, we find about 1 million tons per year in the estuary,” ecologist Laurent Colasse said. 

Environmental associations have cleaned up waste plastic dating back to the 1970s and 1980s along the banks of the river in Normandy. Romain Tramoy, a researcher at the École des ponts at the University of Paris-Est-Créteil, described the waste ‘like fossils but with the advantage of having the date engraved … Many go back 40-50 years’.

The Paris Olympic organising committee want to hold outdoor swimming events such as the triathlon in the Seine – at present the Paris triathlon uses the slightly cleaner waters of the Canal Ourcq which runs through the north of the city.