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Olympics: Macron throws his weight behind Paris 2024 bid

PARIS (Reuters) - French president Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday added more support for Paris 2024 by planning to defend the French Olympic bid at a final presentation by candidate cities in July.

Macron, who took office on Sunday, will travel to International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland for the July 11-12 presentation, Paris 2024 confirmed.

Paris is competing against Los Angeles for the right to host the event.

It was not immediately clear whether Macron would be in Lima on Sept. 13 when the host city will be chosen.

“Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to support the bid until the final victory - although he did not go into details regarding his possible presence in Lima,” Paris 2024 leader Tony Estanguet told a news conference at the end of a three-day IOC evaluation commission visit.

Macron met with the IOC evaluation commission and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, as well as bid leaders Estanguet and Bernard Lapasset, at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday morning.

Asked whether Macron’s political weight would change the balance of a bid built around the athletes, Estanguet said the president’s implication showed the Paris team were united.

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“Mr Macron is in the continuity of Mr (Francois) Hollande in that he is personally involved in the bid. It is a very, very strong gesture that shows the unity and strength of Paris 2024,” the three-time canoeing Olympic champion said.

IOC evaluation commission head Patrick Baumann again praised the Paris bid but would not be drawn into direct comparison between the French capital and Los Angeles.

The commission will publish reports on both bids on July 5.

“If we look at both bids from a technical point of view, there is no doubt that both are able to stage an Olympic Games,” said Baumann.

“They have a different culture and a different history and therefore their own vision of the Olympics. The IOC members will have to choose between one vision and another.”

Paris has not staged the Games since 1924. Los Angeles last hosted the Olympics in 1984.

The IOC is considering awarding the 2024 and 2028 Games at the same time. Los Angeles opened up to the idea of settling for 2028, but Paris ruled out that possibility, essentially because its proposed Olympic village is only guaranteed for 2024.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Andrew Callus and Larry King