June 23, 2015 / 10:35 AM / 4 years ago

Paris enters race to host 2024 Olympic Games

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.

French athletes and officials pose, including city mayor Anne Hidalgo (5thL), as they attend an event to launch the Paris bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, France, June 23, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Paris, which narrowly missed hosting the 2012 Olympics, now begins a two-year selection process in which the world’s most visited city will face off against the likes of Boston, Hamburg and Rome, which lost out to Paris in 1924.

“Paris 2024 promises a feasible and flexible Games concept,” French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) head, Denis Masseglia, said. His team and others had flagged a Parisian bid for months.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the candidate cities that made it to the shortlist in 2016, before voting for a winner in the summer of 2017.

French President François Hollande welcomed the move.

“The state will make every effort to ... support this candidature which will be exemplary on the environmental, economic and civic front,” he said in a statement.

“It is a unique moment for a whole generation to come together and show the world France at its best.”

However, Paris’s Olympic plan took some time to emerge.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was reluctant at first about the cost but endorsed the idea in March after a study said the city’s existing infrastructures should help limit outlays, putting the hosting budget at 6.2 billion euros ($7 billion).

Hidalgo said the way Parisians had united to come out on the streets in their thousands to mourn victims of the January attacks by Islamist gunmen at the offices of a satirical weekly and a Jewish foodstore was an argument in favour of the bid.

“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,” she said in a written statement in English.

Paris lost bids to stage the 1992, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. The latter went to London.

“We analysed the reasons for the failures,” Sports Minister Patrick Kanner said. “The main thing is that the world of sport will lead this bid. The politicians ... won’t be on the front line.”

Three-time Olympic gold medallist, canoeist Tony Estanguet, will be a prominent member of the bidding team.

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

Additional reporting by Pauline Ades-Mevel and Noémie Olive; Editing by Louise Ireland and Mark John

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