France: Paris - Bidding for glory

Now on its third bid for the Games, Yasmin Razak asks the organisers why 2012 could be the one.

Enter a buzzing office in a modern building just yards away from the Musee Galliera in the 16th arrondissement of Paris and you will come face to face with a giant plaque signed by the 38 French medallists from last year's Olympic Games in Athens. This symbol of French pride dominates the lobby at the Paris bid team's office and the mood is upbeat among the 40-strong committee. Communications director Jerome Lenfant has been preparing the French capital's third bid and explains why Paris has such a strong case this time around.

How much has been invested in the bid?

The overall budget for the Paris bid is EUR27m (£19m). The City of Paris, the Ile-de-France region and the French Government have given EUR6m (£4m) each, so we have three public partners and the rest has been raised from the Club des Enterprises, which comprises 14 French business groups such as Accenture, Accor, Airbus, France Telecom and Renault.

Has the French population backed the bid?

Approximately 79 per cent of the French population back the bid, according to our latest poll, and 92 per cent think that hosting the Games is a good opportunity for France. So when we say that the whole of the country is behind the bid, we really mean it.

What existing infrastructure will be used?

We already have 95 per cent of the infrastructure in place, such as the Stade de France, which was built for the 1998 football World Cup, but designed with the Olympics in mind. In terms of transport, our airports are fully equipped to cope with the increase in arrivals. We can use the freeways for the Olympic lanes and the new tramway will be opened by the end of 2006.

What additional infrastructure will be developed?

We are planning to build an aquatic centre and this will become a permanent venue for the people of Paris to enjoy - a lasting legacy. The Superdrome will be a 25,000-seat indoor stadium used for the gymnastics, but after the events it can be used for concerts. However, one of the really exciting developments is the Olympic Village itself. Built inside the walls of the city, it will be maintained after the Games as a place for new businesses, schools and leisure attractions, so there will be a new part of Paris to visit in the future.

Will you be catering for the incentives market during the Games?

If we win, French companies will be buying and offering tickets as incentives, particularly to their staff based in offices around the world. Naturally, many of the venues have corporate hospitality facilities and this is something we will continue to develop.

What venues will be left in place for C&I groups to use?

The Superdrome will certainly interest the C&I market for major meetings or entertainment as part of an incentive. The Stade de France hosted 50 meetings in 2004, so we are aware of how big the market is.

What will the economic impact be?

If Paris is awarded the Games, it will create an additional 60,000 jobs up until 2012. After the Games, 42,000 permanent jobs will be created and most of these will be in the tourism industry, particularly in the C&I sector.

Do you believe that your bid will win?

There are three months to go until the decision is made so no-one can be sure. All we know is that we are absolutely dedicated to winning and we know we can put on a fantastic Games for the International Olympic Committee and the spectators. Paris is less than two hours away for 300 million people, and all the people who want to come will have a great time in an excellent city. We will be offering France at its very best and that is our promise.

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