Paris Olympics plan has Eiffel Tower volleyball, Seine swimming

Beach volleyball at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, fencing at the Grand Palais, archery at the Invalides and equestrian competitions in the gardens of Louis XIV’s Versailles Palace.

Although it’s two years away, the Paris 2024 Olympic Games organizing committee says it is well on its way to putting in place the pieces for the summer event that it hopes will draw millions of visitors. Coming after the Tokyo Olympics at the height of the pandemic, the organizers are hoping the Paris games will be different even as Europe grapples with a war in its backyard.


“We want to open the games to everyone,” Tony Estanguet, a three-time Olympic canoeing champion and president of Paris 2024, said at a press briefing Thursday in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of the French capital, where the committee is based. “We will bring the various sports out of the stadiums and into the city, in the middle of its iconic landmarks.”

The 3.9 billion euros ($4.1 billion) budgeted for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games will come in equal parts from the International Olympic Committee, private companies and ticket sales, Estanguet said.

“We are well on track with this budget in spite of all the difficulties with Covid and the international context,” he said.

Drugmaker Sanofi, the utility Electricite de France SA and phone operator Orange SA are among the games’ partners, according to the Paris 2024 website.

The opening ceremony will likely be the biggest ever in the games’ history, a 6 kilometer-long (3.7miles) procession along the Seine river with athletes parading on 160 boats of their national delegations. That event will be, for the most part, ticket-free to draw large numbers of people, including the less well-off.

New disciplines have been added, such as skateboarding, as the games embrace new sports that are all the rage on social media and among younger people, Estanguet said.

Inclusive Games

In keeping with the times, the games are being designed to be inclusive, sustainable and have gender parity.

About 95% of the infrastructure will be either existing or temporary and all sites will be accessible by public transport, Estanguet said. For the first time, an equal number of male and female athletes will be competing, he said. An effort is also being made to cap ticket prices, with the cheapest ones going for 24 euros to make the games more affordable.

Challenges remain for Paris 2024 after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were delayed by a year because of Covid-19, and the Beijing Winter Olympics this year were a muted affair due to pandemic restrictions. While 206 nations can participate, it’s not clear if Russia will be excluded after its invasion of Ukraine. Estanguet declined to comment on Russia.

“We strongly believe that despite everything going on in the world we should maintain the level of ambition in terms of celebrations,” he said.

Other issues could pop up in a city that has over the past few years faced terrorist attacks, violent Yellow Vests protests and a two-month transport strike that crippled the Paris region during the crucial year-end holiday period in 2019.

But Paris plans to put its best face forward. President Emmanuel Macron, who won re-election last month, has pledged to reopen Notre-Dame cathedral in time for the Olympics after a fire ravaged the landmark site in 2019.

And it’s not only Paris hosting the Games: In addition to swimming events in the capital’s Seine river, there will be sailing in Marseille, handball in the northern city of Lille and even surfing in Teahupo’o, Tahiti, the first time a host country holds a competition in an overseas territory.

It “will be the showcase of the best of France,” Estanguet said.

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