— Published 26 July 2023

Paris 2024, one year to go and much to do

The date is symbolic. D – 1 year before the opening of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on Friday July 26. Symbolic and ceremonial, as Thomas Bach will explain this Wednesday afternoon when he sends out the official invitations to the National Olympic Committees from the OCOG headquarters in Saint-Denis.

One year to go, then, before the first Summer Games to be held in France in a century. Just 365 days before the first Olympic and Paralympic Games since the health crisis. The first where the stands won’t ring hollow.

At this stage of the preparations, where does the Paris 2024 OCOG stand? What does its roadmap look like? How is its schedule shaping up? Here are the answers in a few key points.

What is done

The venues. Tony Estanguet repeats it, and Thomas Bach gladly echoes his words: there are no grey areas on the site map. The health crisis delayed the work, then the war in Ukraine increased the costs. But, barring the most unlikely catastrophe, all the equipment will be delivered on schedule.

The President of the COJO detailed this at a press conference last week: the athletes’ village will be completed in March 2024, the Olympic Aquatics Centre the following month, and the Arena at Porte de la Chapelle in June.

Marketing. The long-awaited arrival of the LVMH group as the sixth – and final – premium partner of the OCOG, made official on Monday July 24, has removed any remaining doubts. Paris 2024’s national marketing program will not be in the red. “We have exceeded one billion euros in partnership revenues,” Tony Estanguet proudly announced to the media last week. The contract with LVMH, worth an estimated 150 million euros, had not yet been officially signed. The organizers can now look forward to the final year without anxiety: the stated objective of having 92% of marketing revenues by the end of 2023 will be achieved.

Ticketing. It created controversy, animated social networks and crystallized discontent. Too expensive, too complex. But the results speak for themselves: the OCOG has already sold more than 6.8 million tickets for the Olympic Games alone, with revenues also exceeding one billion euros. According to the IOC, this is a historic achievement. The third phase of individual ticket sales is currently underway.

Mobilization. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion, especially given the devastating effects of the health crisis and the uncertain and terrifying geopolitical context. But here too, the figures speak for themselves: more than 4,000 municipalities and territories have been awarded the “Land of Games” label, the Paris 2024 Club has more than 4.4 million members, and 312,00 candidates have applied for the volunteer program (for 45,000 places). There’s nothing left to say.

What remains to be done

Lifting doubts. The latest opinion polls all drive the point home: the French aren’t yet watching the Paris 2024 Games with a blissful smile and optimistic faces. They, and the Cour des Comptes, are concerned about the security, transport and cost of the Games. Clearly, the reassuring and sometimes triumphalist rhetoric of the OCOG and the IOC is hard to convince. Over the next twelve months, the organizers and public authorities will have to reassure public opinion about the doubts that are inevitable for an event of this scale. They will also have to get rid of the suspicions of corruption linked to the recent searches requested by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office.

Selling the Paralympic Games. Identical logo and torch, common Club France, unified French team… The COJO has spared no effort to raise the Paralympic Games to the level of their Olympic predecessor. With success? The first and perhaps most revealing element of the answer will be provided by the results of ticket sales for the Paralympic Games. Ticket sales are due to start this autumn.

Settle the Russian question. It does not depend on the OCOG, but only on the IOC. And as Thomas Bach confided last week, the question of “neutral individual athletes carrying a Russian or Belarusian passport” taking part in the Paris 2024 Games will not be decided during the summer, nor, no doubt, at the time of the IOC Session next October in India. Patience, then. At last count, some twenty international federations had decided to reinstate, or consider reinstating, athletes from both countries in the competitions. Only nine others have taken the opposite position. But in this small group, only three are directly concerned by the Russian question at the Paris 2024 Games, since they manage individual sports: athletics, equestrianism and surfing.