Paris 2012 officially launched its "club des ambassadeurs" today, unveiling a unique list of athletes, artists,
opinion and business leaders from around the world who fully support the French
nation in its quest to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris in 2012.
Olympic and Paralympic champions and renowned athletes from five continents were the first to join the "club
des ambassadeurs de Paris 2012", a worldwide organization of supporters of the
Paris Olympic bid. Among the first star athletes to give their backing are: Algerian
World Athletic Champion Djabir Saïd-Guerni; U.S. triathlete Mark Allen; Brazilian equestrian champion Rodrigo Pessoa; South African rugby coach Nick Mallett; Bulgarian Olympic gymnast Maria Petrova; Handball stars Magnus Wislander of Sweden and Stefan Kretzchmar of Germany; Italian fencer Valentina Vezzali; Norwegian biathlete Liv Grete Poirée; Australian rugby World Cup winner John Eales; German canoe athlete Birgit Fischer; Paris 2003 IAAF World Championships medalists Diane Roy of Canada (800-meter wheel chair), Annika Becker of Germany (pole vault), and Valiantsina Tsybulskaya of Belarus (20 km walk); sumo wrestling star Takanohana of Japan; and the six-time winner of the 24 heures du Mans (Le Mans 24 Hours
auto) race Tom Kristensen of Denmark.
The multinational "club des ambassadeurs" has the enthusiastic support of the entire French sport community, including
noted French athletes, such as Laure Manaudou (swimming); Alain Mimoun, Marie-José
Perec and Michel Jazy (athletics); Jackson Richardson (handball); David Douillet
(judo); Assia El Hannouni, winner of four Gold Medals at the 2004 Paralympic Games;
and football stars Zinedine Zidane and David Ginola.
Djabir Saïd Guerni stated: "I am honored to become a Paris 2012 ambassador and to contribute to the city’s
efforts to bring the Olympic Games here. Paris is an incredible city in which
to compete. Its modern infrastructure and the technologically-advanced sports
venues, to say nothing of the city’s abundant cultural activities and historic
sights, make this a fantastic setting for the world’s premier sporting event.
Winning the gold medal in Paris at the legendary Stade de France in 2003 was the
proudest moment of my life. The World Athletic Championships demonstrated that
Paris can do a superb job of staging a global sporting event of an Olympic magnitude,
while making the athletes from all over the world feel at home".
Diane Roy added: "France has already demonstrated that sport can drive change in perception of
disability. That is why I am proud to support Paris in its quest. While we come
from different countries and walks of life, we all share one belief: that Paris
will host an amazing Olympic and Paralympic Games. As a Candidate City, Paris
represents the best there is in sport: enthusiasm, tolerance, mutual respect and
determination to succeed".
International luminaries from the fields of sciences, arts, urban planning, politics, and business have also joined the
club des ambassadeurs de Paris 2012. Among the Club’s first members are:
- Sallyanne Atkinson of Australia, the former Mayor of the Sydney Olympic Village;
- Abdeslam Ahizoune, CEO of Maroc Telecom;
- David Baffsky, Chairman of Accor and a prominent Asia Pacific hotelier;
- Vicomte Davignon of Belgium, former European Commissaire;
- Pape Diop, Mayor of Dakar;
- Shih Choon Fong of Singapore, President of the National University;
- Ali Mohamed Thunayan Al Granim, President of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
- Rafic Hariri, former President of the Lebanese Minister Council;
- Jeliou Jelev, the former President of Bulgaria;
- Issey Miyake of Japan, the leading international designer;
- Youssou N’Dour, renowned Senegalese singer;
- Youssef Abdelatif Al Shaya, businessman in Kuwait;
- Ousmane Sow, noted Senegalese sculptor;
- Liu Thai-Ker of Singapore, President of Arts National Conservatoire and a prominent architect
and urban planner; and
- Ari Vatanen of Finland, a member of the European Parliament and champion rally driver.
Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris and President of Paris 2012: "We are delighted to welcome the
first ambassadors of Paris 2012, all of whom are united by a passionate desire
to bring the Olympic Flame to Paris. We are grateful for their generous support
and endorsement of the Paris Olympic bid".
Guy Drut of France, member of the International Olympic Committee and founding member of Paris 2012,
added: "The enthusiastic support of the global sports community represents a tremendous
boost to the Paris Bid. The passion that unites all of us provides Paris 2012
with added energy to face the final hurdle on July 6th 2005".
Other personalities from around the world also will join the club. Together they will impart "L’Amour
des Jeux" across the five continents and will contribute to the mobilization around
the Paris bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.