The International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission and Paris 2024 organizers put on a united face Wednesday, declaring preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games are on schedule with 415 days to go before the Opening Ceremony.
“We’re working hard on a daily basis to deliver incredible Games,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said. “We are on time. We know the clock is ticking. We want to be ready to welcome the whole world in July 2024.”
Coordination Commission Chair Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant said Monday that an IOC concern was balancing the budget, which has grown to nearly $4.48 billion to account for inflation; Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told French radio on Tuesday “we’re on budget and we’re on time.” The commission’s concern was on the heels of a Court of Auditors budget examination that was reported by French newspaper Le Monde.
The report said expenditures remains a concern given the budget’s increase since planning for the Games started in 2017 but also was optimistic on the chances of sealing a long-delayed sponsorship deal with French giant Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton by summer’s end. Estanguet said Wednesday that negotiations are underway on an agreement.
“Given the ambition of the project and this partnership, this will take time to ensure it will be a meaningful partnership,” he said, adding that organizers are taking feedback from the auditor’s report. “We must remain cautious; nothing has been signed yet. We are convinced that it will be beneficial and will provide a new dimension for Paris 2024.”
France has been the site of social unrest at points this year since French President Emmanuel Macron signed into law highly unpopular pension reforms, with demonstrators protesting outside Paris 2024 headquarters on Tuesday. The Games have also been criticized for high ticket prices even while seeing overwhelming demand around the worldwide for tickets, with it being the first Olympics that any fans can attend since Pyeongchang hosted the 2018 Winter Games and leading to concerns about hotel capacity for worldwide visitors.
“There is a very large hotel capacity for the Paris 2024 games and there is a huge enthusiasm that we have seen so far from the population in France and far beyond to be part of these Games after two Games without spectators,” Beckers-Vieujant said. “The Olympic Games are a property that really excites the world. It is a good problem to have — the same with ticketing. Paris 2024 will not be able to satisfy every individual demand but this will not prevent it to provide an exciting Games for the world.”
Opening Ceremony Logistics
Another topic addressed Wednesday was security at the Opening Ceremony, which is planned along a 3 1/2-mile route on the River Seine. Fans will need to pre-register for tickets so that non-paying spectators can be allocated designated spots on the river’s upper embankments, separated from 100,000 other guests paying for a closer, waterside view. Athletes will be paraded along the river aboard 91 boats, with 25 other craft in reserve for breakdowns or other needs. There will also be about 30 boats for security.
“We are fully convinced that the authorities will be able to guarantee everybody’s safety,” Beckers-Vieujant said.
Then there is the Russia question. Two months ago the IOC detailed how individual athletes from Russia and its military ally Belarus could be reintegrated as neutral athletes, despite those countries’ ongoing war on Ukraine that, when started, led the IOC to banish Russia from international sport. The IOC’s decision to leave a formal policy up to each international federation has led to a patchwork of inconsistent announcements; the European Union has publicly disagreed with the IOC’s position, which has led IOC President Thomas Bach to reinforce his position further.
That specific question — which was put into the public chat by a reporter attending Wednesday’s event virtually — went unanswered on Wednesday.