It’s signed. In black and white. With 820 days to go before the opening of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Great Britain has finalised one of the decisive stages in the preparation of its delegation: the choice of its base camp. The British Olympic Committee (BOA) made official its partnership with the town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in the Yvelines, on Thursday 28 April.
Team GB will therefore set up camp in the west of the capital, less than 25 km from Paris by road. With this agreement, Great Britain becomes the second major nation in the Olympic movement, after the United States, to unveil its Games Preparation Centre (GPC).
Arnaud Pericard, the Mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and Andy Anson, the Chief Executive of the British Olympic Committee, answered FrancsJeux’ questions.
FrancsJeux: Andy Anson, why did you choose Saint-Germain-en-Laye as a base for the Paris 2024 Games?
Andy Anson: We chose Saint-Germain-en-Laye for its sports facilities, the best in the region, and for the excellent relationship we have developed with the town. Everyone involved understood our needs perfectly. We met incredibly professional people who were very focused on the opportunity that the Olympic Games represent for the region. Team GB has quite complex needs: the best possible sports facilities, excellent hotel facilities and quick and easy links to the Olympic Village and our other performance venues in Paris. Saint-Germain-en-Laye offers us all of this, plus a very peaceful forest environment and a vibrant cultural centre.
What will Team GB be doing in Saint-Germain-en-Laye?
Andy Anson: Several of our delegation’s major sports, such as athletics, hockey, football, rugby and weightlifting, will use the facilities in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Between these sports and potentially others, more than a third of the total number of over 400 athletes we hope to take to the Games in Paris 2024 will reside in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Arnaud Pericard, what are you going to offer the British delegation in terms of accommodation, services, welcome… ?
Arnaud Pericard: First of all, an ideal setting for the preparation of the team and the rest of the athletes, but also for the quality of life and leisure activities of their relatives and fans who have come to support them. The Georges-Lefèvre stadium – among other facilities chosen by the British delegation on our territory – is a unique site in the Paris region, with its 12 hectares of protected multi-sports facilities in the middle of the national forest. We can host almost all the “land-based” disciplines of an Olympic delegation, both individual and collective. The Dôme, the swimming pool on the edge of the forest, is also a great tool, just a stone’s throw from the city centre. It is accessible by the future tram 13, whose station is also planned in front of the stadium. We have worked with Team GB to best meet the needs of their athletes, with an upgrade of the facilities, including the athletics track and the indoor performance room on the stadium site. We have also mobilised the entire economic fabric of St. Germain in order to involve hoteliers, businesses and the entire population at a very early stage. They will be brought together in an ad hoc structure, the JOP 2024 Council.
How will you support the presence of the British delegation?
Arnaud Pericard: The hospitality of a municipality as welcoming and international as ours has been proven. It has clearly made the difference in our favour, as has its setting as a royal city, at the gateway to Paris. Local volunteers will accompany Team GB during its preparation, as they will be able to do during the Games. Meetings are planned during these almost two years, a constant exchange for a lasting legacy on our territory. It was really important for them and for us to think about the impact of their visit to our city, whether it be through our investments, through what they will be able to bring or through meetings with the public. We know that the decision of the British delegation also comes from our ambition on this heritage aspect. The town’s services are mobilised to act as a link between Team GB and our region, on a sporting, technical, structural and organisational level, and in terms of relations and exchanges with the inhabitants and sporting associations. Saint-Germain-en-Laye will facilitate all the future steps taken by Team GB: negotiations with local players, administrative procedures, etc.
Andy Anson: We will work to finalise the details of the agreement and continue to develop our excellent relationship. We are planning a cultural exchange and will be visiting with athletes to organise their specific training plans before the Games. We will also be working on ways to present Saint-Germain-en-Laye to our partners, especially commercial partners. We want them to appreciate this high-performance environment and make the most of it.
Arnaud Pericard: Finalise the details of the reception and “get the machine going”. From next year, British teams (athletics in particular) should come to train in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Another important step is the launch of the heritage project. It should connect our population to the Olympic Games and promote Saint-Germain-en-Laye as the CPJ of Team GB, through cultural exchanges, work with our schools, conferences and events, all of which will mark our partnership with a major Olympic delegation.