Security is top priority for Olympic Games: Bach

Paris, Oct 3 (IANS) International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach admitted security was the top priority for Olympic Games but declined to raise the par for Paris bid when it comes to terrorism concerns.

“Security is always top priority for the International Olympic Committee, of course,” the IOC President told media before summing up his two-day visit to Paris for the French capital’s bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, reports Xinhua on Sunday.

“We have to face challenges, but these challenges are not restricted to one particular city or to one particular country,” he added when asked by Xinhua whether there are any concerns of terrorism considering Paris bid.

“Unfortunately, we are living in a world where all normal citizens have to live with these threats of terrorism. This is true for every country in the world. So, what’s important is to see how the countries are dealing with these challenges,” Bach said.

“Nobody knows how the world looks like seven years from now on security wise. And on the other hand, France has shown through recent organisation of the Euro that they can deal with security challenges,” said the 62-year-old German.

Paris, a major target of terrorist attacks in the past two years with 130 people killed last November, is among the candidates to host the 2024 Games, competing against Los Angeles of the United States, Hungary’s Budapest and the Italian capital city of Rome.

Bach also said that he is impressed by the unity of France and Paris for the bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The candidatures of France and Paris have never been as unified as they are now,” said Bach, who reckoned unity as the one big difference of Paris bid for the 2024 Games compared to the French capital city’s three previous bids.

“This, I think, is the particular asset for this candidature, to have the world of politics being united regardless of the different parties of political directions, to see the world of sport being united, and to the world of sport and politics being united,” he added.

Ahead of the soccer friendly between refugees and French athletes, President Hollande guaranteed a safe Olympics to the IOC chief when welcoming him at the Elysee Palace.

“Security is our most important priority. I don’t know how the world will be in 2024 but it will be dangerous. There is no country, no capital that can think they will be protected, immune from this,” he added, pointing out that the European championship held across France in June proved that France could handle big event.

Earlier, Bach listened to a presentation from Paris 2024 and was shown around a number of landmarks in the heart of the city which will be turned into Olympic venues if Paris is chosen as the host city.

In Paris’ blueprint for the 2024 bid, more than 70 per cent of the proposed venues are existing facilities and a 25 per cent are temporary structures, as the main construction requirements include an aquatics center near the Stade de France, a media center and the Olympic village in Saint-Denis.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who led Bach on Saturday night on the Nuit Blanche tour, an annual cultural festival of arts, music and theatre in central Paris, said the city is ready to welcome Olympics in seven years.

“It has been an honour to show President Bach our vibrant city rich with Parisian spirit, world famous art, theatre, cuisine, a love of life and a passion for the Games. We are ready for an amazing centenary party in 2024,” she said.

–IANS

gau/pur/vt

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