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IOC president ‘impressed’ by Paris 2024 bid

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PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande treated IOC President Thomas Bach with a special gift: an Olympic flag from the 1924 Olympic games that were held in Paris.

In addition to the vintage present, Hollande also had a special message for Bach: “This Olympic flag dates back to nearly a century. It will be a century old when Paris will host the Games in 2024.”

Paris, which has not hosted the Olympics since those Games, is competing against Budapest, Rome and Los Angeles. The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city in September.

After meeting with French athletes and Paris bid leaders during a two-day visit in the French capital, Bach met Hollande at the Elysee Palace on Sunday to discuss the bid.

He told Hollande he was “impressed” by the Paris dossier and the strong support the bid is enjoying.

“The Paris bid is a very, very strong bid because of the unity and the large support it is sparking off,” Bach said. “Personally, I’m very impressed by the unity among both the sporting and political worlds.”

Bach insisted the strong support among the general population was a key asset to the Paris bid.

“This has not always been the case with the previous French bids,” he said.

Paris failed in bids for the 1992, 2008, and 2012 Games and France also decided not to bid for 2020 after Annecy was humiliated in the race for the 2018 Winter Games.

This time, bid officials have made sure their project is backed by the government, the Paris city hall, and enjoys a strong level of public support.

The Paris bid is also in line with the IOC’s Agenda 2020, a set of recommendations encouraging bidding cities to promote maximizing the use of existing facilities and infrastructure to save money.

More than 70 percent of the proposed venues in the Paris bid are existing facilities, with a further 25 percent being temporary structures. The main construction requirements for the bid include an aquatics center close to the Stade de France, a new indoor arena in the southern Bercy neighborhood, the Olympic village and media center. Paris officials are also promising there won’t be any white elephants and that 100 percent of the venues will have a real legacy.

“Your project is excellent and is in line with the Agenda 2020,” said Bach.

Despite the security threats in France, Hollande repeated that Paris has the experience needed to organize and protect major events if it gets the Games, citing the soccer European Championships France hosted last summer as an example.

More than 200 people have died in France in the last 20 months in several terror attacks.

“I have no idea how the world will look like in 2024, but it will necessarily be dangerous,” Hollande said. “There is not a single country, or capital, that might think it will be immune. We have been confronted by this reality for a while, but we have what it takes to protect an event like the 2024 Olympics.”

Next week, Bach will meet Italian officials, who still hope the Rome bid can be revived despite opposition from the city council, which voted in favor of scrapping the bid after Mayor Virginia Raggi rejected the candidacy, citing concerns over costs.

MORE: Rome’s city council votes down 2024 Olympics bid

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, results

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, results

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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