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Tuesday, 12 November 2019 12:12

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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

Tokyo 2020 #1YearToGo

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Paris is to make its long-awaited entrance into the race for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games on Olympic Day - June 23.

After a prolonged period of assessment, the French capital will confirm its intention to take its place on the start-line, alongside Boston, Hamburg and Rome, at an event at the Maison du Sport Français featuring leading athletes and key politicians.

A second, more politically-oriented launch is expected on French National Day, July 14.

The city has not hosted the Summer Games since 1924 and its last three bids - in 1992, 2008 and 2012 – came to nothing.

Even so, given Boston’s well-publicised problems, it will probably enter this latest contest in what past bidding history suggests is the perilous position of frontrunner.

In a fascinating, though not unexpected, twist, media invitations to Tuesday’s event have been distributed by Vero, the consultancy headed by Britain's Mike Lee, one of the architects of Paris’s downfall in the keenly-contested 2012 race won by London.

Vero worked closely with Bernard Lapasset, the World Rugby President whose input has been critical in navigating the French political establishment to a position where it was prepared to countenance another bid, on the successful campaign to get rugby sevens into the Olympic sports programme, commencing at Rio 2016.

Lee also worked on Rio de Janeiro and Pyeongchang's successful bid to host the 2016 and 2018 Summer and Winter Olympics respectively.

He was also closely involved in Qatar's hugely controversial campaign that led to them being awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Lee is also currently guiding the campaign of former London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe to succeed Lamine Diack as President of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Other key figures in the new bid are expected to include Tony Estanguet, the personable 37-year-old triple Olympic canoe slalom champion and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes' Commission member, Etienne Thobois, a director of the Keneo consultancy and former French badminton champion, and of course Anne Hidalgo, the city’s Mayor.

"We are working with Bernard, Etienne and the Paris 2024 team," Lee confirmed to insidethegames.

The Hungarian capital Budapest is widely expected to join a race that will play an important part in shaping the IOC’s public image at a time when top sports organisations are coming under unprecedented scrutiny.

It is not impossible that other cities may yet follow suit before the September 15 deadline.

The winner is set to be chosen by IOC members in 2017, at the body’s 130th Session in the Peruvian capital of Lima.

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