— Published 28 June 2023

Alcohol at the Games, but only for a few

Will the Paris 2024 Games be alcohol-free? Yes and no. The OCOG made this clear on Tuesday 27 June, confirming a report in Le Parisien: the sale of alcoholic beverages will not be permitted at the Olympic and Paralympic venues. However, under a two-tier law, it will still be possible to consume alcoholic beverages, provided you are in the right places.

The law in question is the Evin law. Introduced in 1991, it bans the sale of alcohol in stadiums and sports venues. Often contested, sometimes threatened, mainly because of the loss of revenue for organisers and the sporting movement, it has held firm for more than three decades.

It will apply to the Paris 2024 Games, as it has to the vast majority of major sporting events hosted by France since the early 1990s.

“In application of the Evin law, alcohol will be banned from sale to the general public in stadiums during the Paris 2024 Games”, stated the Paris 2024 OCOG in a press release.

It is important to note that there are certain exceptions to this legislation. The first allows organisers to obtain up to ten exemptions per year and per municipality. This is a godsend for short-term sporting events.

But the OCOG explains in its press release that the Olympic and Paralympic Games do not fall within this framework. Too big, too long. “Paris 2024 will be organizing more than 700 competition sessions over 15 days of competition”, explains the OCOG.

To get around the regulations, it would have been necessary to amend the legislation, or even to include the question of alcohol sales in the Olympic law adopted earlier this year by Parliament.

The second exception? The consumption of alcohol is authorised in hospitality areas, provided that it accompanies a catering offer. In other words, VIPs will be able to drink beer, wine or champagne, as long as the alcohol is served with a meal or snacks, but only in the boxes.

This is not a new distinction. It has long applied to all sporting events organised in France where hospitality areas are provided. At the Stade de France, in particular, where the athletics events of the Paris 2024 Games will be held.

The OCOG has nothing to do with this. It explains: “It is the strict application of French law, which authorizes catering services including the service of alcohol in hospitality spaces governed by the law on catering. It is not for Paris 2024 to comment on this difference in regime, but for the legislator to ultimately define the relevant framework for event organisers.”

The sale of alcohol was also banned in the stadiums at the Tokyo 2020 Games, before the decision by the organisers to close the stadiums due to the COVID-19 pandemic rendered this decision superfluous.

Five years earlier, on the other hand, it was possible to drink beer and wine at the Rio 2016 Games, including in the spectator stands. The same rule was applied at the London 2012 Games.