— Published 1 February 2023

Putting all athletes in the spotlight

The set is not yet complete. It is missing several pieces, here and there. The actors, especially, understand the athletes. They will arrive later. But the Paris 2024 OCOG unveiled on Wednesday 1 February, less than 600 days before the event (D-574), the calendar of competitions by event for the Paralympic Games (28 August to 8 September 2024). The first ever Paralympic Games to be held on French soil.

What should we remember? The answer in six points.

A non-conforming copy of the Tokyo 2020 Games. The number is misleading. Twenty-two sports are on the programme of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, for 23 disciplines (cycling has two, road and track). This is the same number as three years earlier at the Tokyo Games. But the similarity ends there. In Tokyo, the programme had 539 events. In Paris, there were ten more (for 267 sessions). Another difference is that the Paralympic event will last eleven days, excluding the opening day, which is one less than in the Japanese capital. Finally, the organisers decided to devote the first day, Wednesday 28 August, to the opening ceremony alone. It will be held on the Place de la Concorde. This decision was taken to allow as many athletes as possible to march with their delegation.

Respect for balance. Gender parity remains the exclusive right of the Olympic Games. But the IPC has moved its cursor forward. Of the 4,400 athletes expected in Paris, at least 1,859 quotas will be reserved for women. This is progress. The Paralympic body is also seeking to better promote women’s events. Boccia, for example, will be split in Paris 2024: one male event, one female event. Until then, it was contested by mixed teams. Another trend driven by the IPC is the increased visibility of sports and/or disciplines with a severe disability. The programme of events for the Paris 2024 Games illustrates this: the last events of each session will not always be the most spectacular. Disciplines with a more pronounced disability, which are often less accessible to the public, will also have the right to complete an evening of competition. For example, table tennis in the quadriplegic category. The OCOG Paris 2024 explains this decision by a desire to “put all the athletes in the spotlight”.

Live coverage at every level. For the first time in the history of the Paralympic Games, all the events, without exception, will be broadcast live. As with the Olympic Games, the images will be produced by OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services), the audiovisual arm of the IOC.

A ticketing system open to the world. Another novelty of the 17th edition of the Paralympic Games is that the ticketing will be accessible worldwide under the same conditions. It will no longer be necessary for a foreign spectator to go through a national retailer and purchase a package including travel and/or accommodation. A total of 3.4 million tickets will be offered for sale, with a starting price of €15. Ticketing will start in October 2023. Unlike the Olympic Games, it will not be preceded by a draw.

A smaller relay. No change in the torch relay route. The relay will be reduced to four days. A habit. The torch will be lit in the English city of Stoke-Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic movement. Another habit. The route of the relay is to be unveiled at the same time as the Olympic Games, next May.

France in full force. As the host country, France has a full quota of Paralympic events. It should be present in all 22 sports on the programme, subject to the probable qualification of the wheelchair basketball team. Never before seen. The French delegation is expected to be massive, around 300 athletes, twice as many as in previous editions.