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Paris celebrates end of 100-year Olympic wait

September 13, 2017
Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — The 100-year wait made victory extra-sweet for Paris. Only the weather was miserable.

Paris celebrated the award of the 2024 Olympics as best it could in heavy rains on Wednesday.

The Eiffel Tower had its head in the clouds and a small and very wet crowd on the other side of the River Seine huddled under umbrellas in front of a big screen to watch the International Olympic Committee announcement from Lima, Peru, that the French capital will host in 2024 — 100 years after its last Olympics in 1924.

The award wasn't a surprise. Paris and Los Angeles had worked out a deal in advance with the IOC for Paris to get 2024 and LA to get 2028.

Still, the Eiffel Tower glittered with sparkling lights in celebration. Olympic rings were unveiled in the rain and lit up on the Trocadero plaza opposite the world-famous tower. Announcements in French and English in the Metro spread the news.

French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to offer congratulations. French athletes rejoiced on social media. "Can't wait," tweeted Paris Saint-Germain footballer Kylian Mbappe.

Speaking by television from the Caribbean, where he has been visiting French territories hit by Hurricane Irma, Macron said France will "prepare for these games with all of our energy."

He said the IOC decision was a recognition of France's "image and values" and of French "willingness to spread these values in today's world."

After three previous failed bids — for the games of 1992, 2008 and 2012 — winning felt great.

"It's enormous," said deputy Paris mayor Bruno Julliard. "After three failures we are finally bringing the games home."

French athletes immediately started making plans. Double-Olympic judo champion Teddy Riner said that even though he'll be a 35-year-old veteran by then, he'll fight off Father Time to compete in Paris.

"I'll do everything I can to be on the mats," he said.

Paris plans to use its iconic sites to create a spectacular backdrop for the games, with beach volleyball in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, equestrian events at the Versailles Palace and archery in front of Napoleon's tomb at the Invalides.

It also intends for the games to give an economic and development boost to its tough northern suburb of Saint-Denis that will get a new swimming venue and host the new Olympic Village.

"It's going to do our country some good," said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Polls have shown strong but not universal support for the games.

Before the IOC announcement, about 75 people braved the rain in a protest against the Olympics and the city's development plans. One of their banners read "Non, Olympics." Another complained that Paris' development plans are "chasing us out."

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John Leicester and Thibault Camusin Paris contributed.

 
 
 

 

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