Madrid and Paris street parties attract thousands

MADRID: Madrid and Paris threw giant street parties on Sunday to showcase their bids to stage the 2012 Summer Olympics a month before the International Olympic Committee votes for the host city. 

ELABORATE EFFORT: Some of the 1,500 volunteers carrying a flag 2.5km in length along the Castellana boulevard in Madrid to promote the city's 2012 Olympic bid on Sunday.

Thousands of Madrilenos thronged the centre of the Spanish capital, while Paris closed the Champs Elysees to traffic and turned it into a vast sporting arena. 

Sports including hockey, soccer, wrestling, aerobics, weightlifting, archery and paralympic events took place along the length of Madrid's main avenue, the Paseo de la Castellana, to demonstrate the city's “Passion for Sport”. 

One of the highlights of the day was the unfurling of the world's biggest flag, 2.5km long and emblazoned with the Madrid 2012 logo.  

Similar events also took place in Paris, where the Champs Elysees boasted a running track, swimming pool and tennis courts. 

Leading French athletes turned out in force to support the event, which attracted thousands of onlookers and gave children the chance to wrestle with judo instructors or try out other Olympic sports. 

Paris has long been considered favourite but insiders believe London is closing fast. Moscow and New York are the other cities in contention. – Reuters  

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