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One year to Paris 2024 Olympics: Organisers plan a landmark Opening Ceremony, a new sport will debut… but questions remain over security and Russia’s participation

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In a year’s time Paris will join London in becoming one of two cities to have staged the Olympics on three occasions, having previously hosted the Games in 1900 and 1924.

The French capital will welcome the sporting world when its Opening Ceremony takes place on July 26, with competition running until August 11. The Paralympic Games then follows from August 28 to September 8.

A total of 10,500 athletes will compete across 32 sports during the Olympics, with 329 medal events set to be contested.

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet, a three-time Olympic canoe slalom champion, has promised they will deliver a new model for the Games that will be ‘more spectacular, more responsible and more open’.

With a year to go, Mail Sport gives you all the key details as Paris prepares to host the Games.

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet has promised to deliver a new model for the Olympics

Organisers have unveiled a countdown clock near the Eiffel Tower with one year to go

Organisers have unveiled a countdown clock near the Eiffel Tower with one year to go

Opening Ceremony

One of the major innovations for Paris 2024 will be the Opening Ceremony, with organisers pledging to bring the Games into the heart of the city.

Paris’ ceremony will be the first not to take place inside a stadium, with their Games instead set to begin on the River Seine.

Athletes will be taken down a six-kilometre route on around 170 boats, which will pass landmarks including the Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre and the Place de la Concord.

The route will end close to the Eiffel Tower, with the Trocadero gardens hosting the finale of the ceremony.

Paris 2024 had initially hoped around 600,000 spectators would be able to watch from across the route free of charge. 

The figure is now expected to be reduced to 400,000, with a further 100,000 reserved for ticket holders in specific areas of route. Around 80 giant screens are expected to show the ceremony in the city.

Given the city centre focus of the ceremony, a massive security operation is expected to be in place for the spectacle.

Paris 2024 will hold their Opening Ceremony on the River Seine in a first for the Olympics

Paris 2024 will hold their Opening Ceremony on the River Seine in a first for the Olympics

The Opening Ceremony will conclude at the Trocadero gardens near the Eiffel Tower

The Opening Ceremony will conclude at the Trocadero gardens near the Eiffel Tower

Sports 

The vast majority of the Paris 2024 programme remains the same, with organisers obliged to include 28 core sports including the likes of athletics, cycling and swimming.

Organisers opted to include three of the new sports on show at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing, with karate and baseball/softball cut after one Games back.

The eye-catching addition to the programme is breakdancing, which is known as ‘breaking’ in the Olympic world.

The sport will see athletes known as ‘B-Boys and B-Girls’ go head-to-head in a series of battles to a series of DJ tracks. Breaking was added to the programme following a successful debut at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.

Some sports have slightly tweaked its disciplines, with sport climbing now set to award medals in speed as well as a combined event. An extreme canoe slalom event will also debut.

Breakdancing - or breaking - has been included as a new sport for the Games by organisers

Breakdancing – or breaking – has been included as a new sport for the Games by organisers

Venues… including surfing in Tahiti

The vast majority of venues for the Games are already in place, including the Stade de France; which will host athletics, rugby sevens and the Closing Ceremony.

Only one new sports arena is being built for the Games, the 6,000-capacity Aquatics Centre, which is adjacent to the Stade de France and will host diving, water polo and artistic swimming. 

The only other Paris 2024 building project is the Olympic Village in Saint-Denis. 

A matter of weeks after hosting the French Open, Roland Garros will also be the venue for the Olympic tennis competition.

The Stade de France will host athletics and rugby, as well as the Olympics Closing Ceremony

The Stade de France will host athletics and rugby, as well as the Olympics Closing Ceremony 

Paris 2024 took the bold decision to stage the Games' surfing competitions in Tahiti

Paris 2024 took the bold decision to stage the Games’ surfing competitions in Tahiti

Beach volleyball has earned another landmark backdrop in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The Place de la Concord will be the home to the urban park at the Games, with 3×3 basketball, breaking, BMX freestyle and skateboarding held in the centre of the city.

One of the boldest choices made by organisers was their decision to hold the Olympic surfing competition in Tahiti. At 15,700 kilometres from Paris, it will become the furthest distance between Olympic competitions at the same Games.

Paris 2024 opted to use the legendary waves at the Teahupo’o site, which is located in the French overseas territory.

Members of the public will also be given their chance to experience a Games venue, with 20,024 runners set to complete a marathon or 10km race on the same course used for the men’s marathon.

Only one new sports arena is being built for the Games, the 6,000-capacity Aquatics Centre

Only one new sports arena is being built for the Games, the 6,000-capacity Aquatics Centre

Roland Garros will host tennis and boxing competitions weeks after hosting the French Open

Roland Garros will host tennis and boxing competitions weeks after hosting the French Open

Will Russia and Belarus compete?

One of the major controversies heading into the Games concerns whether athletes from Russia and Belarus shall take part owning to the war in Ukraine.

Paris 2024 insist the decision does not lie with them, with the IOC having the final say in who can compete at the Games.

The IOC are likely to allow athletes from both nations to compete as neutrals. 

The organisation has declared that ‘no athlete should be prevented from competing just because of their passport’ and that it is exploring a pathway for those athletes.

A final decision is likely to be made at the IOC Session in October.

The IOC’s stance has received both criticism in Ukraine, as well as Russia and Belarus.

With qualification events taking place over the next year and several federations still prohibiting athletes from the nations from taking part in their competitions, the number of qualifies could be limited. 

The participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus rests with the IOC, led by Thomas Bach

The participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus rests with the IOC, led by Thomas Bach

Security concerns

French authorities were slammed over their security operation during the 2022 Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

Police and local organisers apologised for their handling of the final, which took place at the Stade de France. Understandably, security arrangements at the venue will be a focus heading into the Games.

Paris 2024 officials have expressed confidence the Games will pass off peacefully despite the threat of terrorism and the recent riots in France.

A report last month by a private security firm stated that the terrorism threat level for Paris remained ‘severe’. It comes almost eight years after the November 13 attacks that killed at least 130 people in the city,

More recently, violent protests broke out across the country after French-Algerian 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk was shot dead by police at a traffic stop near the capital. The riots lasted for several days, at the end of June and start of July.

‘We are very confident in the authorities and their capacity to address these issues,’ Lambis Konstantinidis, Paris 2024’s director of planning and coordination, told Mail Sport. ‘We have a constant risk assessment with the authorities. They are working with us in determining what (security) is appropriate.’ 

More than 35,000 police officers will be deployed in Paris on the night of the Opening Ceremony.

Organisers are confident the Games will pass off peaceful despite recent violent protests

Organisers are confident the Games will pass off peaceful despite recent violent protests

Are the Games on budget?

Paris 2024 have insisted the Games remains on budget, with Estanguet insisting that 96 per cent of their operating £3.8billion operating budget is being funded by the private sector.

The overall Paris 2024 budget of £6.9billion includes the costs of building and renovating venues for the Games.

This includes the Athletes Village, which will become 6,000 new houses in Saint Denis post-Games.

Questions do remain after Paris 2024 headquarters were raided by police in June as part of a corruption investigation. Searches were also made of the offices of Solideo, a company responsible for the construction of Olympic sites and venues in Paris.

The preliminary investigations centred on suspected embezzlement of public funds and suspected conflicts of interest and favouritism in contracts awarded.

Paris 2024 said that it was cooperating and ‘has adopted stringent procedures, and has set up an Ethics Committee together with an Audit Committee to supervise its activities. Paris 2024 is also certainly one of the most audited organisations in France.’ 



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