By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Paris showed on Friday that it can offer a safe environment to host the Olympics after an attack was thwarted at the Louvre Museum on the day when the city submitted its bid file to host the 2024 Games, mayor Anne Hidalgo said.
A French soldier shot and wounded a man armed with machetes and carrying two bags on his back on Friday as he tried to enter the Paris Louvre museum in what the government said appeared to have been a terrorist attack.
“I went straight there (to the Louvre museum) with the head of Paris police and what I could see is the serenity and the efficiency of our security forces,” Hidalgo told Reuters on the Place du Trocadero, with the Eiffel Tower lit in blue and red in the backdrop.
Paris is competing with Los Angeles and Budapest to host the 2024 Summer Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will select the host following a vote on Sept. 13 in Lima.
Hidalgo does not believe Paris is the only city concerned by militant attacks.
“The threat exists in all cities across the world. It’s a threat that all cities need to take seriously,” she said.
“This morning, our security forces showed their efficiency and again we showed how resilient Paris is.”
More than 230 people have died in France in the past two years at the hands of attackers allied to the militant group Islamic State. Therefore the French capital knows how to handle terror threats, Hidalgo explained.
“This capacity to react is an asset for this (Olympic bid),” she said.
“It is important that we can rely on our security forces to counter these threats.”
On Friday, the man trying to enter the Louvre shouted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) and rushed at police and soldiers before being shot and seriously wounded near the museum’s shopping mall, police said.
The soldier who shot the man was from one of the patrolling groups which have become a common sight in Paris since a state of emergency was declared in November 2015.
Another soldier received a scalp wound in the incident. “I want to spare a thought for the officer who got injured,” said Hidalgo.
“Paris is a city of hope and youth, in which a lot of people come to take root.
“It is a city that reassures, a city from which we can build a bright future.”
Socialist Hidalgo was elected mayor in 2014.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot, editing by Pritha Sarkar)