Curious timing. Tuesday, July 26, the OCOG Paris 2024 will celebrate the symbolic date of D – 2 years before the beginning of the Olympic Games (July 26 to August 11). It will mark the blow by the revelation of the slogan of the Games, but also the calendar of the competitions and the ticketing of the Olympic appointment.
But, chance or not, this series of announcements of a very international range will be preceded this Monday, July 25th by a “progress meeting” organized in the Elysée Palace, in the request of Emmanuel Macron. It will gather, around the president of the Republic, about ten ministers concerned by the preparation of the Games of Paris 2024.
The meeting of this Monday, announced as a “point of stage”, is not supposed to mark a resumption in hands of the government. She could even prove to be rather smooth, without major decision nor radical change. The list of guests has even been reduced to the only ministers and government departments concerned. Bruno le Maire (Economy), Gérald Darmanin (Interior), Sébastien Lecornu (Defense), Pap Ndiaye (National Education), Amélie Oudéa-Castéra (Sports and Olympic and Paralympic Games) are expected. On the OCOG side, Tony Estanguet will also be present.
A “milestone“, therefore, nothing more. But it intervenes at the time or two successive reports point the budgetary risks and the difficulties to come for the committee of organization. To the point of risking to blur the message prepared by the OCOG for the date of D – 2 years, with the announcement of the slogan and the revelation of the calendar of the events and the ticketing.
Chronologically, the first of the two reports was written by the audit committee of Paris 2024, a group of independent experts led by Jacques Lambert. Presented at the last board meeting of the OCOG on July 12, the 52-page document was unveiled in its broad outline during a press briefing shortly before the board meeting. The OCOG had insisted on the most positive aspects of the analysis, highlighting “a structured and efficient system for steering and controlling expenses”. Cool.
But the content of the report is actually less positive. In particular, L’Equipe reports on the budgetary concerns raised by Jacques Lambert and his team on the audit committee. At the top of the list, “the organization’s financing needs, as updated in a gross manner by the operational departments, are clearly greater than the possibilities offered by the revenues and the contingency reserve.”
The report estimates that it will be necessary to wait until the fall to know “the exact order of magnitude of the residual budgetary risk faced” by the OCOG. It believes that the risk in question “will undoubtedly justify strong and courageous decisions.” In other words, a new savings plan, but also discussions with the IOC to obtain a reduction in the specifications.
According to the report of the audit committee, the amount of merchandising revenue, set at a target of 127 million euros, could prove difficult to achieve. Finally, the document highlights in black and white the risks linked to the security system. The private security sector, called to be massively solicited during the Games, represents “the strongest risk, both operational and budgetary, to which the security budget of Paris 2024 is currently exposed“.
Another report, supposedly still confidential but disclosed last week by Le Canard Enchaîné: a provisional document of the Court of Auditors on the security of the Paris 2024 Games. It lists several subjects of concern, including the security of the opening ceremony on the Seine, with an expected public of 600 000 people, the possible shortage of private security agents, the risks of terrorism and cyberattacks.
The Court of Auditors believes that the OCOG still needs to work on the issue. Its report suggests that a “more precise definition of the security needs becomes urgent”.
At the Elysée Palace, this Monday, July 25, the “site meeting” desired by Emmanuel Macron should not lack subjects. In addition to the inevitable budgetary and security issues, transportation, employment, heritage and mobilization should also be addressed.
Later in the day, Tony Estanguet will face the press, at the headquarters of the COJO in Saint-Denis, for a “tense microphone” after the announcement of the slogan, the calendar of the Olympic Games and the ticketing. Not sure that all the questions concern only these three subjects.