By Julien Pretot
SAINT-DENIS, France (Reuters) - Former triple jumper and Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards has warned the organizers of the 2024 Olympics in Paris that the athletes' experience would determine the success of the Games.
Edwards, president of the athletes commission for the 2012 Games in London, paid a visit to the Paris organizing committee as they sought advice for their own athletes commission, chaired by five-time Winter Olympic champion Martin Fourcade.
"(The athletes) have a very important insight. In the end the success or failure of Paris 2024 will, in a large degree, depend on the athletes," 2000 triple jump Olympic champion Edwards told reporters on Thursday.
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"With social media, the athletes start tweeting about the Olympic village or the transport system or the arrivals or the departures and arrivals from the airports, and Paris could be in disarray because it's been trashed by the athletes."
The Paris 2024 athletes commission features 18 Olympic or former Olympic and Paralympic athletes – nine women and nine men.
Briton Edwards, who still holds the world record for triple jump, believes the commission, who met for the first time on Thursday, will have a key role.
"In some ways it's very simple, they've all been to Olympic or Paralympics and they understand the good experiences and the bad experiences they've had; it's about recreating this in a Parisian way," he said.
"In some sense it's very simple but it's also very complicated because there's so many things to think about and that was the biggest transition for me as an athlete – jumping into a sandpit was the only thing I had to focus on doing very, very well.
"But here it's about multiple things to do very, very well and it's probably the biggest challenge for the ex and current athletes: the range of things to concentrate and focus on."
"The Athletes' Commission will be first and foremost open to the world. Its ambition will be to engage the public to make the event a catalyst for progress, in terms of health, education and inclusion," said Fourcade, who won three gold medals in biathlon at the Pyeongchang Winter Games in February.
"I am extremely honored to lead this body and I fully understand my responsibility starting today and for the next six years. We have been waiting for these Games for 100 years and we will do everything we can to make history."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)