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Paris enters race for 2024 Olympic Games hosting

PARIS (Reuters) - Paris on Tuesday officially announced its bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games and bring the global sports event back to the French capital for the first time in a century.

The announcement in Paris, which narrowly lost out to London in the battle to host the 2012 Olympics, marks the start of a two-year selection process where the world’s most visited city will face off against the likes of Rome for the right to play host.

“Paris 2024 promises a feasible and flexible Games concept,” said Denis Masseglia, head of the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF).

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the candidate cities that made it to the shortlist in 2016, before the vote of the host city in summer 2017.

Paris’s Olympic plan, backed by the City Hall and French President François Hollande, took some time to emerge.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was reluctant about the potential cost but endorsed the idea in March after study said the city’s existing infrastructures should help limit outlays, putting the hosting budget at 6.2 billion euros ($6.97 billion).

“We aim to highlight the unity and the solidarity of a cosmopolitan city, which I am sure will be one of the key strengths to win,” Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo said one factor that changed her mind about hosting the games was how millions of Parisians came onto the streets of the French capital in a demonstration of unity to mourn victims of the January attacks by Islamist gunmen on a satirical weekly and Jewish foodstore.

Paris will be competing for the 2024 honours with cities including Boston, Hamburg and Rome,, which lost out to Paris in the bidding contest when the French capital last got to host the games in 1924.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach told President Francois Hollande last April, Paris would make a “very, very strong candidate” for 2024.

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Reporting by Jessica Chen; editing by Brian Love and Mark John