Paris 2024: Olympic Spirit Lasts Longer than Two Months

(ATR) Bernard Lapasset says there will be a seven-year celebration in France if Paris is chosen as the 2024 host city.

(ATR) Paris 2024 bid co-president Bernard Lapasset tells Around the Rings if the city is chosen to host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics there will be a seven-year celebration in France.

"What our mission is today is not to promote just the two months of sporting events, our view is to create a seven-year celebration to inspire our nation and welcome the world to The City of Light, that’s the vision we have," he tells ATR while in Rio de Janeiro observing the Paralympic Games.

Paris 2024 sent a total of 15 people to the Rio Paralympics with co-president Tony Estanguet observing the first week of competition and Lapasset remaining in Rio until the closing ceremony. Lapasset says he’s enjoyed his experience in Rio and will take valuable lessons with him back to France.

"I am attending all [observer program] events to learn and to feel the power of the Paralympics," he says. "That’s important to be here, not to just stay and watch [sporting] events, but to learn and to understand the different aspects of events and transportation during the Games. It’s a very good experience."

He tells ATR that transportation is a key focus for Paris 2024, especially regarding the paralympians.

"We have finalized the venues for a long time, with a key principle of compactness," he says. "That’s really important because in our project, 90 percent of the paralympians will be less than 30 minutes away from the village to the competition venues."

Lapasset says accessible transportation throughout Paris and all of France will be one of the greatest legacies if the city is awarded the Games in 2024.

"All buses are now accessible in the region and our new subway station will be accessible," he says. "The accessibility of the transportation is very important in terms of legacy. Today solutions are also being found to improve accessibility for those with sensory impairments."

Paris 2024 head of sport and Paralympic integration Lambis Konstantinidis tells ATR existing legislature in France ensures all venues and public spaces are already accessible and will be even more accessible in 2024.

"Of course the Paralympics and Olympics will help us expedite the conversion of some of the venues to reach the highest possible standards," he says. "So although we have the legislation in place, the organization of the Games will definitely help us ensure the widest possible coverage."

Lapasset also guarantees the attendance at sporting events in Paris for the Paralympics could rival that of London 2012, which holds the record for most Paralympic ticket sales.

"I’m very proud and confident for the full support we receive from the French community for the Games," he says. "I guarantee we will have full stadia in all events."

He says this is possible because the Paralympics already have a large public following in France.

"Today, there are two million viewers watching Paralympic sports events on France television," he tells ATR. "We have a special partnership with France television to show the Rio Paralympics on the TV every day."

The bid leaders also note that people with impairments or disabilities are not excluded from social activities and are already woven into the social fabric.

"What we want to do is to create opportunities over the next seven years for people with impairment to feel even more inspired to be participating in social life," Konstantinidis says. "We need their contributions; we need their talents and abilities. Our mission is to help inspire them, help them take part in social life and give them in particular the opportunity to engage in sporting activity."

Written by Kevin Nutley in Rio de Janeiro.

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