diamond geezer

 Tuesday, April 26, 2005

April in Paris: ville Olympique?
Just like in London, there are reminders all over Paris that the city is bidding for the Olympics. Banners hang from lampposts, signs have been erected on public buildings and there are stickers on the doors of all the Metro trains. I spotted especially large 'Paris2012' logos on the front of the Parliament building and the side of the Eiffel Tower, each encouraging citizens to support "L'Amour des Jeux". Like us, Parisians are keen to host the world's premier sporting event because of the national prestige and redevelopment a successful bid would bring. The city exudes a quiet confidence, having barely put a foot wrong during the bidding process, but that's probably because civic leaders have learnt a great deal from two previous failed bids. While I was in town I took the opportunity to visit the site of the proposed Olympic Stadium, a short train journey to the north of the city centre. Just like Stratford in East London this is a poor multicultural neighbourhood of light industrial wasteland and low-cost housing, with noticeable redevelopment already underway. Unlike Stratford the Olympic Stadium already exists - the Stade De France, built for the 1998 World Cup. Late on Saturday afternoon it stood quiet and empty beside the Périphérique, just a circular concrete amphitheatre locked away behind tall metal railings. The only athletes out training in the sunshine were three young boys busy skating and laughing around the perimeter. The stadium already looked late 20th century to me, and by 2012 may feel positively archaic, but here was London's most fearsome opponent, prepared and ready.

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