“Waiting until the dust settles” is a traditional expression describing when
one is waiting for an event to run its course before taking action. It was a particularly
ironic expression in the final months before the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, as
some of the more vociferous international media outlets predicted a chaotic Olympics
choked by the dust from last minute construction.
In retrospect, how wrong those harbingers of doom turned out to be. There was
no dust to settle, just clear blue skies over a magical Olympics.
I have recently returned from Athens with the rest of my Paris 2012 Team and
we all have an incredible feeling of positive energy. This comes not only from the France's innate amour des Jeux - witnessed by our 33 medal wins and the thousands of supporters who were present
in Athens to support the athletes, but also from total respect for the achievements
of the ATHOC and IOC partnership.
The success of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games has already been well documented
as have certain areas of weakness that every Olympic Games can experience. Paris 2012 is very carefully studying the lessons it has learnt as we make the final preparations for our Candidature File to be submitted to
the IOC on November 15th.
Much of our time in Athens was spent watching, listening and learning through
our own observation and analysis, but most important was the Olympic Family’s
reaction regarding all aspects of the organisation of the Athens Games. We will
adopt the same approach next week when we send a high-level delegation to the
We must acknowledge the outstanding quality of the venues and accommodation, the discretion and efficacy of the security
forces and the warm welcome and efficiency of the volunteers, all of whom clearly
contributed to the success of these Games. Also, the concept of a dedicated Olympic
Lane has definitely proved how crucial it is to ensure the timely transport of
the Olympic Family. As such, our proposal and arrangement of a dedicated Olympic
Lane on the existing Ring Road in Paris linking the Olympic Village to the two
competition venue clusters, has proven prescient and invaluable.
We also spent a great deal of time explaining our proposals to the Olympic Family
whilst meticulously adhering to the rules of the IOC Ethics Commission. We had
the great opportunity to receive advice and feedback on all aspects of our dossier at a crucial point in the Bid process. We also
had the opportunity to meet with the 28 International Federations to validate
each of the competition plans that we will submit in November. We are pleased
to report that their favourable reaction to our proposal showed we are developing
a dossier that meets their aspirations and needs.
It is clear from all this feedback that people believe Paris could host an incredibly
successful Games. The challenge now is to demonstrate why our proposal will also
benefit the Olympic Movement as it moves into the 21st century, seeking to contain
the growth of the Games while leaving a sustainable legacy for the host city.
Our candidature file will contain proposals that will meet and surpass that challenge.
For example there will be a balance between our existing iconic stadia and brand
new venues designed with an eye on practical application and use after the Games.
We are even proposing temporary venues where we cannot guarantee long-term community
use after the Games. In this area we propose to leave a legacy of best practice for the Olympic Movement.
One of our principal venues, the Stade de France, serves as the centre of one
of our two venue competition clusters and will only be 14 years old in 2012. It
was built with the Olympics in mind and has already hosted two world championships
in key Olympic Sports, and has more to come. Stade de France is no way static. It is a constantly evolving institution that is at the heart of national sport
Under the management of Consortium Stade de France (Partners of Paris 2012),
the Stadium hosts up to 30 world-class events a year. Yet it is constantly monitored,
improved and refurbished to meet the highest international standards. Our plans
for refreshing and updating this stunning venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic
Games will surely exceed the expectations of the Olympic Family. ATHOC demonstrated
what could be achieved with an existing venue when they transformed their 23 year
old stadium into an amazingly beautiful yet functional Olympic Stadium.
As you look around Athens today there are so many lasting benefits for Athenians.
From areas of urban regeneration to new transport infrastructure wherever you
look the legacy is evident to even the casual observer. However our Bid to host
the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has equally as ambitious plans for urban renewal and environmental enhancement. The completion of the regeneration of Saint Denis and the comprehensive urban
renewal plans for Batignolles District (site of the proposed Olympic Village)
are two examples of proposed major and lasting change.
Our ambitious plans to transform the Olympic Village after the Games into an
area of affordable housing within a thriving economic community will be funded
by private public partnership (PPP). Indeed most of the capital projects necessary
to host the Games are already committed with public funding. However the addition
of PPP will enable us to be visionary for the benefit of both Paris and the Olympic
Given the scale of the undertaking, advanced planning is crucial to the success of the Olympic Games and Paris 2012 looks forward to the challenge of organizing
an event that meets the expectations of the IOC, the athletes and the spectators.
This includes ensuring the appropriate infrastructure and logistics are in place,
as well as a focus on developing a dedicated and inspiring cultural programme
to further generate international enthusiasm for the Games. Paris 2012 promises
to fully use the available seven years to integrate all necessary organizational elements, while further underscoring “Olympic citizenship” around the world and guarantee
a fantastic celebration of a Paris Games.
We believe the Games represent a unique opportunity to achieve the refurbishment of one of the last forgotten
areas of our capital city, thereby generating new jobs, new housing and new green spaces in an area that
needs them. In the end, it is the intangible aspects which really make our Bid
stand out. However, the success of a Paris Games will not only be measured against
the bricks and mortar legacy. It will also be seen through the sustainable impact
the Games will have on French society, predominantly through a much needed boost
of modernity and energy. L’Amour des Jeux means that the French would take the Olympics into their collective
hearts. This would help infuse the highest Olympic values into our society. Primarily,
it will transform mentalities and behaviours, enhance integration of people with
disabilities into the society, place sport at the heart of our education and health
systems and foster environmental-friendly attitudes. We believe the Paris Games
would dramatically change the face of our country for the better as we move further
into the 21st Century.
If Athens 2004 helped the Olympic Movement reach out to its historic roots, we
firmly believe that Paris 2012 would help celebrate the Olympic spirit on a global scale and place it as a cornerstone of modern society.