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France says it would guarantee financial health for 2008 Olympics

PARIS — Prime Minister Lionel Jospin told Olympic officials Wednesday that France would guarantee the financial health of the 2008 Games if they were held in Paris.

The head of the visiting IOC commission, Hein Verbruggen, described the guarantees as "very strong."

IOC inspectors met with Jospin on the third day of their trip to assess Paris' bid to host the 2008 Olympics. They already have visited rival bidders Beijing, Osaka, Toronto and Istanbul. The IOC will pick the winner July 13.

"If unforeseen difficulties arose, the government would guarantee all of the organizing committee's potential deficit," Jospin said.

"This meeting was very useful for us," said Verbruggen, making his first public comment since arriving in Paris.

Evaluators are due to meet with French President Jacques Chirac Thursday, the last day of their visit.