Bitter Paris vent their 2012 anger on president Rogge
IOC chief blamed for defeat which hurts five months on
Sunday 11 December 2005
It is five months since Jacques Rogge opened the envelope which left the streets of London paved with golden opportunities and Parisian boulevards awash with the tears of broken dreams.
Losing the Olympic Games at the third time of asking sees the French capital still in shock. The day after the vote in Singapore the headline in the daily sports newspaper L'Equipe demanded: "Pourquoi Londres?". Why London is a question Paris is asking itself even now. Another is whether they were sold down the Seine.
Before 6 July, banners proclaiming L'Amour de Jeux (Love of the Games) fluttered everywhere, from the Louvre to the Left Bank. But a nation that has been in love with the modern Games since one of their own, Pierre de Coubertin, founded them over a century ago now seems to have fallen out of love with the Olympic movement, and in particular its Belgian president.
There is a prevailing feeling that the Paris team were misled by Rogge into believing that if they played it strictly by the Olympic rule book, and did not kick up a fuss when London occasionally seemed to sail uncom-fortably close to the wind, their bid would not be lessened.
"Victory was decided on something other than Olympism," declared the peeved Paris mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, after London came from behind to defeat narrowly the long-time favourites. Sour gripes? Perhaps, but it is hard not to have some sympathy with Paris, who under a competent team headed by the personable former diplomat Philippe Baudillon and his able communications director, Jer-ome L'Enfant, got their message across to the international media. But apparently the International Olympic Committee were not listening too well.
In the only interview he has given since returning from Singapore, Baudillon, 50, who has since become the Michael Grade of France, running the country's national TV network, also admits to anger. But this, he insists, is not directed at London but at Paris's own fallibility and the role of Rogge. He claims they were let down by the IOC president, who promised them their bid would not be harmed by "doing the right thing".
"But we were not taken seriously, and I think there is a problem with the administration of Mr Rogge," says Baudillon. "I am very upset with him. We were very rational, we did not challenge some of the things the British did because were advised not to. We were told by Mr Rogge we did not have to use such tools. London were very close to the yellow lines a lot of times.
"We went to the IOC and asked, 'What is going to happen?' but they said, 'Don't worry, just go on doing what you have to do. Don't react. Don't do what they are doing. You are doing the right thing'. Mr Rogge said that because he didn't want problems. We respected the rules because of his advice. We had a lot of information of the weaknesses of the London bid but we chose to say nothing. We honoured that. Maybe it was a great mistake.
"London did their job, if sometimes it was not very fair play. But when the referee says, 'Don't move because everything is under control, it will not have any impact', what do you do? I could say some harder things about Mr Rogge. In my opinion he is not going to be long in the presidency. I do not think he will be re-elected. But you can tell Seb [Coe] he and Keith Mills did a good job and I respect them, though there are those I do not respect. I will not say they cheated but I must I must ask whether all the rules were observed."
All that of course is now water under the bridges of Paris. The reality is that in Singapore Paris were outmanoeuvred by Coe's wheeling and dealing, and Tony Blair's glad-handing. In the final approach it was London who had the joie de vivre. Paris's team were practically all white, all male and political. "Perhaps one difference is that you had your politicians behind you, not in front of you," mused one member.
Baudillon adds: "I believed then, and still believe now, that France would have been the best partner the Olympic movement could have. We were prepared to use the Games to change the future of the Olympic movement. We made a mistake in proposing something that was too early for them, to give the Games a different perspective.
"London is a great city. I have no doubt you will produce a magnificent Games. There is no bitterness in that respect, but it will change nothing. Yet I still feel we did something very important for France."
So will Paris bid again? "Not for a very, very long time. It is like being in love with somebody who says no. When you are rejected three times there is little point in continuing with the romance."
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