Paris (AFP)

Goodbye Tokyo, hello Paris: in front of a jubilant crowd that contrasts with the silent closed doors of the Olympics-2020, the French capital became the Olympic city on Sunday, during a ceremony organized under the Eiffel Tower, its symbol for the world whole.

"We knew that the party was in France, but there we took a hurricane in the head and we want more", marvels Matthieu Androdias, Olympic champion in two-couple rowing, turned towards the thousands of spectators on the Esplanade du Trocadéro.

Led by Teddy Riner as an ambience driver, the Olympic medalists, French flag on their shoulders, tumbled on stage, to the cheers.

"On an emotional level it made me think of the 2012 and 2016 Olympics when a whole stadium is with you and cheering you on, it's very heartwarming," said the judo star.

This atmosphere appeals to champions after Games without an audience or relatives.

"It's heartwarming to see the public, we spent a bit special Games," said Samir Ait Saïd, standard bearer of the French delegation.

"We feel that the public is celebrating us and that they are gradually preparing to experience the Games in three years here", rejoices Florent Manaudou who won his third medal (silver this year) in as many Games out of 50. m freestyle.

- "In time" -

Kevin Mayer, also in silver on the decathlon, says his happiness to "see all these little young people with stars in their eyes": "It reminds me of myself when I was little".

What to give the motivation to return to training in the perspective of Paris, "perhaps the biggest meeting of (his) life".

"It gives an extra soul ten times, I'm injured and I already want to go to train," continues Samir Aït-Saïd in a smile that contrasts with his eyes cloudy after his failure to climb on the podium to the rings.

Teddy Riner surrounded by supporters with French flags at the Trocadero on August 8, 2021 in Paris STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN AFP

"French athletes are already mobilized for 2024", welcomed the boss of the organizing committee, Tony Estanguet.

"For the moment, all the indicators are green, we are on time."

Hanna, who came from Val-de-Marne with her mother, relishes this moment after having had sleepless nights.

“I would wake up at 1:00 am on purpose to watch the Games,” says the 17-year-old.

In the public, enthusiasts but also many curious.

For Gaëlle, a student in Poitiers for a weekend in the capital, this gathering is an opportunity to party, a rare occasion in this period of pandemic.

Even if she regrets that the huge flag with the logo of Paris-2024 could not be hoisted on the Eiffel Tower, due to weather conditions, a gesture that would have been "majestic".

© 2021 AFP

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