By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Should Paris be selected to host the 2024 Olympics, France is well equipped to stage a safe Games because of the security measures that are in place after the recent terror attacks, president Francois Hollande said on Sunday.
Los Angeles and Budapest are the only other candidates left in the running to host the 2024 Games after Virginia Raggi pulled the plug on Rome’s bid last month, shortly after being elected mayor of the Italian capital. Boston and Hamburg had already abandoned their bids.
“We want to remind you, and you know it, that France is able to host big events — recently with Euro 2016 but also with some 40 world and European championships across all sports these past years,” Hollande said as he welcomed International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach at the Elysee Palace.
“We have the savoir faire and the technology for big events but we can also ensure appropriate safety. We have ensured security for the events I just mentioned. It is our main priority and everyone can understand why,” he added.
France has been struck by a series of attacks in the past 20 months, with 130 people killed in coordinated assaults claimed by the Islamic State in Paris on Nov. 13 last year before a truck attacker killed 84 in Nice on Bastille Day this year.
“I don’t know how the world will be in 2024 but it will be dangerous. There is no country, no capital that can think they will be protected, immune from this,” said Hollande.
“We have been facing this reality for a while but we have what it takes to protect an event such as the 2024 Olympics. We have a form of preparation that no other country can have, given what has hit us.”
The head of state added that the outcome of future elections, starting with next year’s presidential election, would have no bearing on the candidacy.
“I am certain that after the elections that will follow until 2024, all the presidents will want to pursue what we started,” he said after handing Bach a gift — the flag of the 1924 Paris Olympics.
Bach praised the work done so far. “Your project is excellent and in line with the Agenda 2020,” he said, referring to the IOC’s roadmap for the future of the Olympic movement.
The host city will be elected in Lima on Sept 13, 2017.
Bach then attended a soccer game between refugees and French athletes organized by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo at a local stadium with the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop.
“We have to face challenges but these challenges are not restricted to one particular city, or to one particular country,” Bach said.
“Unfortunately, we are living in a world where all big events and normal citizens have to live with this threat of terrorism. This is true for every country in the world. What is important is to see how countries are dealing with this challenge.
“And France has shown with the recent organization of the Euros that they can deal with security challenges.”
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Clare Fallon)