— Published 10 January 2023

For Paris 2024, a report that touch on a raw nerve

The Paris 2024 OCOG is used to this. A habit that Tony Estanguet and his team would gladly do without. The reports of the French courts are like itching powder, especially when they are written by the Court of Auditors. They make him itch and hinder his approach.

The latest report is due to be presented this Tuesday 10 January to the National Assembly and the Senate’s Committee on Culture, Education and Communication. AFP obtained a copy before its presentation. It will be published on Wednesday.

Note: the document was drafted before the OCOG’s latest budget review, unveiled last month and validated by the board of directors. It is therefore partly out of date. But a new report is expected in the first half of the year from the same court, which is excessively concerned with the Olympic and Paralympic file.

What will it say? First of all, the risks. The Court of Auditors surprises no one by suggesting that security and transport “remain challenges to be met and must be the subject of particular vigilance by the public authorities and the organising committee“. This is anything but a discovery.

On security, a high-risk issue for all editions of the Games, the report points out the potential lack of police forces. The absence of arms, therefore. The Court of Auditors recommends “planning the use of internal security forces by ensuring a balance between covering the needs of the Games and those of security throughout the national territory”. It recommends “stabilising the needs of private security and establishing alternative measures to compensate for its probable shortcomings”. Finally, it recommended “finalising the overall security plan for the Games before the end of the first half of 2023“.

Nothing new under the sun. Since the end of the health crisis, security, both public and private, has been high on the list of sectors that are short of staff. The OCOG knows this. So do the political authorities. The number of meetings between the actors concerned has increased over the last few months to discuss the issue. The Court of Auditors’ report will not teach anyone anything.

Another risk highlighted with a thick line: transport. Here again, not really a scoop. Just like security, the sector is currently struggling to recruit. Drivers are becoming scarce. As for private operators, they don’t seem to be in a hurry to get involved in the Olympic Games adventure, as evidenced by the failure of the call for tenders launched at the end of last year by Ile-de-France Mobilités for the bus transport of accredited persons.

The report of the Cour des Comptes insists: “Certain projects present uncertainties at this stage regarding their delivery date and reinforce the tension on the existing transport network. Several infrastructure operations (…) present major risks due to already tight schedules and no real room for manoeuvre. If they were not completed for the Games, the result would be a strain on heavily used lines that would be difficult to sustain, with the associated risks of incidents and congestion for everyday users“.

After the risks come the criticisms. They focus on the budget, which was revised upwards last December (+10%) and is now set at 4.380 billion euros. Predictable.

But, more than the rising costs, which the OCOG claims were offset by an increase in revenue, the Court of Auditors’ report points to the delays in signing contracts for the use of competition sites, including the Stade de France.

At the beginning of November 2022, only eleven of the 80 planned use agreements had been signed, the document notes. These successive delays now expose the committee to a proven risk, due to the resulting chain of consequences for the preparation of the Games and, in particular, for the conclusion of negotiations on the outsourced delivery model for the Games“.

Finally, the Court of Auditors declares itself incapable today, in the face of such uncertainty, of estimating the final cost of the Paris 2024 Games. But it is categorical: the final balance of the OCOG’s budget remains more than fragile.