IOC president Bach kicks off two-day visit to Paris

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/10/2 11:21:17

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach met 400 athletes at France's National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (INSEP) on Saturday to kick off a two-day visit to Paris.

Bach, who will greet French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace on Sunday before attending a soccer friendly between refugees and French athletes at Stade Emile Anthoine, was invited by the French capital city's bid committee for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Paris has joined Italian capital city Rome, Los Angeles of the United States and the Hungarian capital Budapest as the candidates to host the 2024 Games, with the IOC to vote on it in Lima in less than a year.

Bach was given a tour of the state-of-the-art sports facilities at INSEP by Paris 2024 Co-Chairmen Tony Estanguet and Bernard Lapasset before the IOC president delivered a speech to the athletes.

"I worked 40 years to be received by INSEP. In my time as an athlete, the French fencers refused to invite me here to show me the keys to their success," the 62-year-old German started his speech with a joke.

"Thank the person who had the idea of inviting me here to this forum. I could not imagine a better start to my visit here, with all athletes. I'm very impressed with the facilities here and how you work," he said .

"What impressed me most is to see you united behind the candidacy of Paris 2024. That makes this application a very strong candidate. It's very touching, very encouraging for the Paris 2024 bid. I wish good luck for the Paris 2024 bid. You have many advantages. Continue to work like this," he said.

The 1976 Olympic fencing champion was shown around an athlete led exhibition illustrating the INSEP program that educates young sports people about athlete development, the challenges that come with being an elite athlete and preparation for transitioning into employment once they retire.

Before visiting the different workshops of the forum, he also exchanged a few balls with former table tennis player and Paris 2024 Sports Director Jean-Phillipe Gatien, Paralympic champion Arnaud Assoumani of Athletics and volleyball player Victoria Ravva.

Following the INSEP visit, Bach attended a private dinner hosted by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Ahead of his Paris trip, Bach has already visited LA and Budapest and will meet Italian officials next week though the Rome bid had been vetoed by the city council.

Posted in: Europe, Olympics

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