IOC Assessing Paris' Security for Olympic Games

Committee studies Parisian security plans; London, Madrid, Moscow, and New York also in running


PARIS (AP) - Olympic inspectors assessing Paris' bid for the 2012 Games studied security plans and other issues before a dinner Friday with President Jacques Chirac.

Over lunch with Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and other members of his cabinet, the International Olympic Committee team examined Paris' arrangements for immigration and customs, legal affairs and medical services. The evaluators were looking into security, finance, marketing and media in the afternoon.

Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour promised that France's anti-doping agency "will be a leader in the fight against drugs."

The French government spends $25.5 million a year against doping. Lamour, a two-time fencing Olympic gold medalist, stressed that France wants to work with the World Anti-Doping Agency to "tackle this challenge globally."

WADA, which is trying to implement a unified set of rules against doping worldwide, recently welcomed France to its executive committee.

The evening dinner at the presidential Elysee Palace with Chirac, a former mayor of Paris, was intended to emphasize that the French government fully backs the Olympic bid.

"Chirac is very much behind us," bid director Philippe Baudillon said.

The IOC panel already has visited Madrid, London and New York, and will make its last stop next week in Moscow. The full IOC selects the host city in Singapore on July 6.

Paris, Olympic host in 1900 and 1924, is making its third bid in 20 years after failed attempts for the 1992 and 2008 Games.

On Thursday, the IOC visited proposed Olympic sites, including the Stade de France stadium, the Roland Garros tennis arena, the planned Olympic village and the Eiffel Tower. Visits to sites farther from the proposed Olympic Village are scheduled for Saturday.

Paris officials kept the inspectors from strikes and protests Thursday that disrupted Paris' transit network.

London and New York do not have ready-for-use Olympic stadiums. London plans to transform a vast expanse in a rundown area of east London into an 80,000-seat arena and village, while New York's proposal for a Manhattan stadium has met opposition.

Paris bid organizers were buoyant after the IOC inspection of the 80,000-seat, fully functional Stade de France.

"It was a strong moment," Lamour said. "The stadium only needs one more thing ... to be called an Olympic stadium."

Baudillon said the fact that Paris did not have a worthy Olympic stadium for the 1992 Games probably harmed that bid.

"I am very happy that we have the Stade de France," Baudillon said. "In 1992 we didn't have one. Now we have a mythical stadium, a future Olympic stadium. The IOC knows that."

Inaugurated in 1998, Stade de France in northern Paris has hosted a soccer World Cup final and a world championships in track and field.