So far, so good. And even, come on, a little better than good. In essence, this was the tone of Tony Estanguet’s speech on Wednesday March 31st, before the Senate Committee on Culture, Education and Communication.
The President of the OCOG Paris 2024 was accompanied in the hemicycle by Marie Barsacq, Director of Impact and Heritage, and Nicolas Ferrand, Director General of SOLIDEO (Olympic Works Delivery Company). There was no question of sport. Not yet. But for the rest, the picture turned out to be quite complete.
Without fearing a certain weariness in the formula, Tony Estanguet did not resist bringing before the senators the promise of Paris 2024: “To move the lines.” A well-known chorus.
How? Patience. In these times of a global pandemic, and a tightening of health measures announced Wednesday evening by Emmanuel Macron, the OCOG has no other choice than to leave some of its initiatives in the freezer. But Tony Estanguet insists: the Games will keep their commitments, especially in terms of jobs and economic impact.
“Despite the context, we continue to carry our ambition”, he explained. “We are going to apply for 150,000 jobs. In total, nearly 4 billion euros of private money will be injected into the French economy”.
Marketing? Everything is rolling, argues the three-time Olympic canoe champion. In the Senate, he brought out the figures spread over several months, and recalled the advantageous comparison with the “model” of the London 2012 Games. With more than half (53%) of the objective of 1.1 billion euros of revenue already in the safe, Paris 2024 remains “in the transit times of London 2012 which is the benchmark“.
On the issue of work, also affected by successive confinements, Tony Estanguet passed the ball to Nicolas Ferrand, the boss of SOLIDEO. The two men differ in their style, but little in the way. “We are on the schedule set three years ago“, insists Nicolas Ferrand. No worries, then, even if the room for maneuver is shrinking as the crisis drags on.
So far, nothing very new. On the other hand, Tony Estanguet undoubtedly woke up a few sleepy senators when he broached the issue of ticketing. “It is interesting to see that the reduction in the number of spectators leads to a reduction in expenses related to security, catering, transport… If we were to reduce the sails in number of spectators, the expenses would also be reduced”.
Mathematically, the reasoning of the President of the OCOG holds true. But on the merits, it can surprise. He suggests that the Parisian organisers are already working on a gauge-marked Games, more than three years from the event. Dark prospect.
Transport, finally. Obviously, the annoying subject. Since the application phase, where Greater Paris was presented as a new urban model for collective travel, the OCOG has seen projects fall one after another like infantry under grape-shot. Tony Estanguet and his troops had nothing to do with it. They endure delays without having any control over the work schedule. However, today’s reality looks less and less like the promised scenario.
The Grand Paris Express, supposed to make it possible to reach the capital from Charles-de-Gaulle airport, will not be ready in time. Metro lines 16 and 17, intended to serve Le Bourget, where the media village will be built, are also struggling. “We are looking at other options to route spectators“, said Tony Estanguet.
Among them, the bicycle. Not necessarily easy for everyone, especially to reach the Stade de France from the heart of Paris. But resolutely sustainable. Tony Estanguet has revealed: the OCOG may decide to provide bicycle parking spaces near the Olympic venues. Cool.