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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 March, 2005, 09:33 GMT
Paris starts 2012 presentations
International Olympic Committee members have begun hearing submissions into Paris' bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

The 13-member evaluation commission will spend most of Wednesday listening to a total of 17 presentations behind closed doors at their hotel.

Each presentation takes 30 to 90 minutes and is followed by questions from the IOC panel, headed by chairwoman Nawal El Moutawakel.

Paris is up against London, Madrid, New York and Moscow to host the Games.

After greeting El Moutawakel at Paris' main airport on Tuesday, the city's Mayor Bertrand Delanoe and French Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour travelled to the Hotel de Ville metro stop.

The station is now adorned with over 100 Olympic photos, featuring Olympic track champion Marie-Jose Perec and marathon winner Alain Mimoum.

But the IOC commission's visit could be overshadowed on Thursday by planned strikes and street protests by seven unions to defend France's 35-hour working week.

Several government members have warned that the action, which threatens to disrupt services on buses, trains and the subway, could damage Paris' chances.

But the strike is set for the southeast of Paris, while the IOC will be visiting sites in the north and west of the city.

Paris bid chief Philippe Baudillon said the demonstrations would provide "a chance to prove we can cope with that sort of problem".

Baudillon added that the Paris must now prove why it is regarded as favourite to win the vote.

"All the bids are very solid," he said. "The people who say Paris is in the lead are not the ones who decide. In the days and weeks ahead, we need to prove how consistent we are."

Tues: IOC panel arrives
Weds: Presentation of Paris 2012 bid and visit to Croix Catelan, site of 1900 Paris Olympics
Thurs: Tour of proposed Olympic and Paralympic venues, including Eiffel Tower - proposed beach volleyball venue
Fri: Lunch with Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, dinner at the Elysee Palace hosted by President Jacques Chirac
Sat: Visit to non-cluster venues, including Bercy Palais Omnisport

The French capital has been considered the favourite since last May when it scored highly in the IOC's evaluation of the bids.

The city has not hosted the Olympics since 1924.

The strengths of Paris' 2012 bid include the Olympic-standard Stade de France, which was built for the 1998 World Cup, the accommodation capacity and the well-developed transport network.

Eighteen of the proposed 30 sites are within a 10-minute drive from the planned Olympic village, which will be constructed on a disused railyard in Batignolles.

It will be midway between the two 'clusters' of venues at the edge of the city.

During the visit, the IOC will visit a number of proposed sites.

On Friday, the commission will lunch with Foreign Minister Michel Barnier and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, before dinner with President Jacques Chirac at the regal Elysee Palace.

Paris' hopes have been further boosted by a survey which concluded around 85% of the French public are supporting the bid.

Sports Minister Lamour suggests four million more French people will take up sport after the 2012 Games.

"We are preparing this heritage. One that we can be proud of," he said.

"It would be incompetent to invest a lot of money if there is nothing in return. We will create 40,000 jobs - 20,000 in sport and 20,000 in tourism."

And the Paris team have renamed the Stade de France, which would act as the Olympic Stadium if the city was to win the Games.

The stadium has been renamed the Stade de France Paris 2012.

Report: BBC News' Alan Little

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