By Duncan Mackay in Annecy
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

February 11 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy again threw his full backing behind Annecy's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission were left with no doubt that Government support for the campaign is total.

The 11-strong Commission continued their visit here by visiting Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc, Europe's highest summit, which would host the alpine skiing and ice hockey competitions and the Olympic Village.

They then met Sarkozy, the latest member of France's Government to travel here to back the bid.

Earlier, Sarkozy had met local residents  in nearby La Clusaz for a round table discussion on the state of the economy in the French Alps.

There, he took the opportunity to express his support for the bid.

"You have a great candidature, a magnificent region and you want to host these Games," he told them.

"We are all going to pull together in a bid to get them.

"If we win them, we'll deserve it, and if we don't well...the facilities and infrastructure put in place for 2018 "will still be useful for your towns and your regions."

In a light-hearted comparison to his own election campaign, Sarkozy suggested that those involved in Annecy's bid should never stop believing.

"One has to tread a long road to become President of the Republic, it's even worse than for Annecy," added Sarkozy.

"No-one believed in it [his campaign] but gradually I began to see people believing.

"The night of the election, well, everyone believed."

During a short lunch, Sarkozy reiterated to the evaluation commission what he has been telling his Ministers all week, namely that the state is completely committed to the Annecy bid.

After Sarkozy's departure, the Evaluation Commission met with Annecy bid officials to discuss Games issues relating to marketing, finance, the political and economic climate, immigration and customs formalities.

France's triple Olympic skiing champion Jean-Claude Killy, one of France's two IOC members and the chairman of the Sochi 2014 Coordination Commission, was buoyed by recent efforts to relaunch the bid.

"The visit is almost over and I feel very positive," he said.

"We've had to dig deep to start over again and now we're back in the race."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
February 2011:
 Annecy 2018 make environmental pledge
February 2011: Sarkozy visit to meet IOC Evaluation Commission boosts Annecy 2018
February 2011: French Prime Minister to greet IOC Evaluation Commission in Annecy
February 2011: Jean-Claude Killy - "Annecy speaks for itself"
February 2011: Annecy recruit another London 2012 veteran to help Olympic bid