By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Organizers of Paris’ 2024 Olympics bid are cheering the election victory of Emmanuel Macron, optimistic that his youthful appeal and his internationalist outlook will be a boost to the French campaign.
Paris is going head-to-head against Los Angeles for the 2024 games and Macron, who assumes the presidency on Sunday, has signaled his intent to meet with a visiting International Olympic Committee delegation who land the same day.
“Look at how the international press is referring to him — he’s a young leader, above political divisions, open to the international world. Those are the values we’re defending. It’s easy for us to ride that wave,” co-bid leader Tony Estanguet told reporters on Wednesday.
Macron won Sunday’s run-off vote by an emphatic margin over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen, whose pugnacious anti-European Union, nativist rhetoric jarred with the Olympic community’s world view.
The IOC evaluation commission’s three-day visit comes four months before an announcement is expected in Lima on Sept 13.
Describing the 39-year-old centrist’s win as a blessing for the 2024 bid, Estanguet said: “Macron wants to meet them, even if it’s complicated for him, schedule-wise.”
The French capital is widely seen as favorite to win the 2024 Olympics. The city has not hosted the Summer Games since 1924, failing in bids for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
A Macron presidency does, however, carry a risk: his reformist agenda for an economy long-choked by heavy-handed state regulations held dear by workers raises the prospect of an autumn of street protests – just as the IOC makes its decision.
Macron, who served as economy minister for two years under outgoing President Francois Hollande before splitting with the Socialist government, was a leading supporter of labor reforms last summer which unleashed waves of nationwide demonstrations.
His plans to ease those regulations further have angered hardline trade unions.
“It is not my role to get into politics, I don’t have a hand in the reform of the labor law,” said Estanguet.
Amid swirling rumors the IOC could also award the 2028 games in Lima, Estanguet said his team was “focusing solely” on 2024.
(Editing by Richard Lough)