IOC President Bach invites 203 out of 206 NOCs to Paris 2024

IOC President Bach invites 203 out of 206 NOCs to Paris 2024

IOC President Thomas Bach invites nations to Paris 2024 ©Getty Images

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach today invited 203 of the 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to take part in the Paris 2024 Olympics that start in a year's time.

The question of whether Russian and Belarusian athletes can take part as neutral individuals is expected to be decided at the IOC Session in Mumbai in October.

Russia and Belarus were two of the NOCs not to receive invitations, while Guatemala, which is currently suspended, was also not sent an invitation.

"The mission of the Olympic Games is to untie the entire world in peaceful competition," Bach told gathered guests here.

"In our fragile world with conflicts and divisions and wars, we need this unifying power more than ever.

"The Olympic Games must always build bridges.

"The Olympic Games must never erect walls."

Referencing the earlier playing on violin - by French classical musician Marina Chiche - of John Lennon’s Imagine, Bach added:

"Imagine - you may say we are dreamers.

"That is why the IOC today will extend invitations to 203 National Olympic Committees around the world.

"And I will have the great privilege of handing over today to nine NOCs and to the IOC Refugee Olympic team."

French classical musician Marina Chiche played John Lennon’s Imagine before invitations were handed out ©Getty Images

Earlier, speaking mostly in French, Bach welcomed all guest to "this important and symbolic ceremony ahead of the Paris 2024 Games a year from now."

Citing the French founding father of the modern Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, and the hosting of the Paris Olympics in 1924, he added:

"Today we celebrate a new Paris Games, another chapter in this noble history.

"Paris 2024 has an exceptional spirit.

"There has been excellent work from the organisers to prepare these Games.

"These Games are more inclusive, more young and more durable.

"For the first time, we will have a perfect parity of gender.

"And we see that these Games fit exactly with the Agenda 2020.

"It is therefore my great pleasure to mark this important milestone today by inviting the nations to Paris to celebrate the Games of the 33rd Olympiad and to celebrate the Olympic motto: Faster, Higher, Stronger - Together."

Recipients of the first direct IOC invitations to the Paris 2024 Games line up at the ceremony in the Organising Committee headquarters today ©Getty Images

Tony Estanguet, Paris 2024 President, commented:

"In a year’s time we will be just a few hours away from the Opening Ceremony - and maybe a bit stressed out!

"A Ceremony that just might be, as the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, said on the boat yesterday in the presentation of the Torch, the most beautiful in Olympic history.

"Welcome to Paris 2024.

"We are very pleased that you are with us and are here for this very symbolic moment.

"This one year to go is very important for Paris 2024.

"A big thank you to Thomas Bach for your constant support since the beginning of the Paris 2024 project.

"A project that is aligned with the 2020 IOC Agenda.

"We have been showing our Games presentation.

"We have announced a new premium partner who will help us show the best of France.

"We have unveiled the Paris 2024 Torch, which is absolutely magnificent.

"We have also unveiled the Omega countdown clock by the Eiffel Tower.

"And yesterday we presented the Torch with Usain Bolt.

"It is beginning to taste like Paris 2024.

"Last week we showed Chefs de Mission around the site and they gave us a great feedback.

"I am very confident about the future and the year to come."

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said at the IOC Invitation Ceremony:

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said at the IOC Invitation Ceremony: "I am very confident about the future and the year to come" ©Getty Images

Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant, chair of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the Games, added: "There will be a lot of firsts in Paris next year, but it has started from the first day of preparation for these incredible Games.

"The first time there is a perfect equality in gender.

"Never before will the Games be so urban and directed to the heart of the city.

"And of course there will be the unique Opening Ceremony on the Seine and in the Place de la Concorde.

"Emblems and mascots are the same for the two Games.

"Never before has there been such commitment to climate issues.

"And never before has a city organised 95 per cent of its infrastructure from existing buildings, reducing the need for new construction.

"The number of firsts is very high.

"What we need to remember is through all these firsts these will be the Games of a new era.

"They will be an inflection point showing there will be a before and an after for the Games of Paris 2024."

By Mike Rowbottom at the Paris 2024 headquarters in Saint Denis