— Published 26 November 2020

Paris 2024 reshuffles its cards but keeps control

The case is folded. Or almost. Three years and a good handful of weeks after winning the hosting of the Games, the OCOG Paris 2024 has delivered a new map of the venues. It was validated on Wednesday, November 25th by the executive committee of the organizing committee. It is due for final adoption by the board of directors at its next meeting, scheduled for December 17th.

Between the two copies, the original and its modified version, the changes are not insignificant. Four sites have disappeared forever from the landscape. Two would have been only temporary : the Arena du Bourget, where the volleyball events were to take place, and the Olympic aquatic stadium, planned in Seine-Saint-Denis and intended for swimming races and water polo finals. The other two : the Jean-Bouin stadium, initially chosen for rugby sevens, and a football enclosure in the provinces, yet to be determined.

Four less sites, therefore, sacrificed on the altar of economic austerity and budget sobriety. But Tony Estanguet, the president of the OCOG, insisted when leaving the executive board meeting : “The project is sharpening. We are capitalizing on our strengths. We are strengthening them. Above all, we keep intact the main principles of our project : preserving the DNA of the concept, built around celebration and iconic places ; ensure technical feasibility ; optimise costs“.

The result is more in line with the world after. By reviewing its copy, the OCOG Paris 2024 would have managed to scrape around 130 million euros from its initial budget. Not bad. But the ambitions declared earlier in the year by Tony Estanguet turn out to be higher : savings of 3 to 400 million euros.

Where can I find the missing part ? “In a better optimisation of operations and services, he explains. We’ll have to wait until December 17 and the board meeting to find out the details and figures.”

Less expensive, therefore, the new Olympic device. But Tony Estanguet repeats it tirelessly : the concept has not been sacrificed. It would even be reinforced.

The new map is as compact as the previous one, with 80% of the sites within 30 minutes of the Athletes’ Village, 24 sports within a 10 km radius of the village and 29 within a 30 km radius.

The project is still as spectacular as ever. Admittedly, the OCOG struck the Jean-Bouin stadium off the table, moved up swimming to the Arena de la Défense in Nanterre, sent handball to the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille (where the discipline could beat the attendance record for a team sport excluding football), brings together table tennis, volleyball, basketball playoffs and perhaps weightlifting (today at Zenith in Paris) at the Parc des Expositions at Porte de Versailles , and finally asked gymnastics and basketball (final stages) to share the Arena de Bercy.

But it has not touched the so-called iconic places of Paris and its surroundings. : the Concorde, the Invalides, the Grand Palais, the Champ de Mars, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysées, the Palace of Versailles… Comment by Tony Estanguet: “With this new arrangement, Paris 2024 can generate even more dynamism, enthusiasm and pride.”

Another strong point noted by the President of the OCOG : a better “alignment” of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Three new sports, table tennis, judo and taekwondo, will use the same site for both events. A mass event, the road cycling race, will be offered to the general public, on the same course and on the same day as the Paralympic event. It will take place in Seine-Saint-Denis, just like the Paralympic marathon.

The following ? It promises to be very formal, but without much surprise. The OCOG will host the IOC Coordination Commission virtually, on December 1 and 2, to present its new copy. Less expensive, more sober : it will appeal to its members.

One week later, the IOC Executive Board will validate the program for the 2024 Paris Games, including additional sports and any new events and/or disciplines. The OCOG Board of Directors will close the ban on Thursday, December 17th. The next world can then begin.