Paris 2024 organizers tighten purse strings


Paris 2024 venue update Image: Paris 2024 Organizing Committee

A series of cost-cutting measures were announced recently by the organizers of Paris 2024 Olympics (France) which will bring down the Games’ bill by 400 million euros due to the severe impact of COVID-19 on the sports venue sector as well as on the sporting calendar.

The most significant of the changes, which still have to be ratified by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), sees the swimming events removed from the socially-deprived area of Saint-Denis just North of the City and relocated to the financial district of La Defense.

The 2024 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad, and commonly known as Paris 2024, is a forthcoming international multisport event that is scheduled to take place from July 26th to August 11th, 2024, in Paris, France.

Volleyball has also been moved from Saint-Denis which does, however, hold on to climbing and rugby sevens which will be hosted at the existing Stade de France – national stadium of France.

The changes brought in are expected to save 400 million euros from an initial budget of 3.8 billion.

Said the President of Paris 2024, Tony Estanguet, that the changes demonstrated “responsibility, sobriety, popular commitment” while maintaining the “ambition” of the Olympics.

Following a board meeting of the organizers, Estanguet further stated, “We are not touching the sports program. We are trying to fit everything into fewer sites.”

The swimming will now be hosted in a temporary pool within the La Defense Arena, an all-purpose indoor arena which is home to the Racing 92 rugby team and, prior to the COVID-19 environment, played host to concerts by stars including singer-songwriter Paul McCartney.

The temporary pool will then be moved to Saint-Denis as part of the “legacy” in tune with the original plans.

Estanguet informed that the changes, which had been announced in principle in the summer, had become imperative given “the uncertainty of the economic crisis” caused by the fatal coronavirus and also to offset the “extra cost” of additional sports.

Several new sports will be added to the Olympic program at Paris 2024: Climbing, breakdancing, skateboarding, and surfing.

Estanguet, who has to his credit three gold medals in canoeing, also informed that sponsorship revenue, for which a decrease was feared, already amounted to 502 million euros from a planned 1.1 billion euros.

Setting the record straight

In mid-September, the Departmental Head of Saint-Denis, Stephane Troussel, warned against making the area “an adjustment variable” of the Olympics.

The loss of swimming and volleyball has been compensated in part by the introduction of climbing which was originally due to take place in Place de la Concorde in the heart of Paris. The climbing wall will remain after the Games.

Troussel also allayed fears that the media village in the town of Dugny, close to Le Bourget Airport, which was intended to be modified after the Games into a residential district with 1,300 housing units, might fall foul of the cuts.

“The media village is saved, there are guarantees on that happening,” he said in the meeting.

The Board of Directors also agreed to the reduction in the number of stadia for the football fixtures from eight to seven. The venue at Colline d’Elancourt has also been confirmed for mountain bike cycling events.

As per media reports, the changes to the sites are expected to save 150 million euros (£137m/$176m), including 60 million from moving the swimming events, as per sources close to members of the Board of Directors. The purse strings will be tightened on other fronts such as transport reportedly set to save the organizing committee as much as €400m. Paris 2024 said the changes have been made to create “room for maneuver” as it seeks to control costs and deliver the Games within the initial €3.8bn budget.

Estanguet also confirmed that COJO (local organizing committee) “was still considering outsourcing part of its operations to outside operators”.

It has also been proposed that the Paralympic Games venue concept will be optimized by applying the revised Olympics concept. All decisions are subject to definitive approval from international federations, the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee.

The revised concept will seek to bolster the central role the Seine-Saint-Denis neighborhood will play during the Games. While Seine-Saint-Denis will still host the same number of events, it will no longer require the use of two temporary venues, which, according to Paris 2024, will “add nothing in terms of legacy”.

The final picture will not be clear until mid-December when it will go to the IOC for its nod.

‘Orange’ boost

The French telecommunications company Orange has continued its commitment to major sporting fixtures held in its home country by agreeing to become a premium partner and official supplier to the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

With this, Orange joins Groupe BPCE (the second largest banking group in France) and EDF (French multinational electric utility company) as a domestic premium partner and will pull out all stops to ensure Paris 2024 is a fully connected Games. Orange will set up high-speed broadband networks in all venues and, as an official supplier, said it will offer fans and broadcasters “optimal quality of service”.

Orange will connect all the Games venues with fiber optic and mobile networks. It will connect its first site under the partnership, the future head office of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee in Saint-Denis, in early 2021.

Orange enjoys the reputation of supporting international sporting events held in France, including football’s UEFA Euro 2016, cycling’s Tour de France and tennis Grand Slam the French Open.

Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of Orange, noted, “Organizing the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024 offers a huge opportunity for the French economy and represents an incredible technological challenge for Orange.”

“Connecting each location and everybody involved to high-speed networks will be an essential factor in successfully bringing the Games to life. During the next four years, Orange’s teams will be fully engaged in making this challenge a reality by harnessing the power of our networks to enable people across the world to share and enjoy this unique event,” the head honcho added.

The announcement came a day after Paris 2024 proposed a number of changes to its venue plan as it look to cut costs amid COVID-19.

Estanguet puts in, “Delivering the telecommunications during the Olympic and Paralympic Games is a big challenge. As the event draws closer, the world’s eyes will be turning to Paris. The connectivity needs to be flawless for people at the venues and online, so they can enjoy the event to the fullest, and share the excitement with others. We are convinced Orange will be a great partner to tackle this challenge and create this bond.”

“Orange’s technological expertise and experience with sports events is tremendous. Paris 2024 and Orange will work hand in hand to organize innovative and spectacular Games that bring people closer together,” he affirmed.

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