One day after the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games organizers met for a progress report on the Games’ planning, French investigators searched the Paris 2024 headquarters Tuesday in a probe into suspected corruption, according to the national financial prosecutor’s office.
The Paris organizing committee said in a statement that a search was conducted at their headquarters in the suburb of Saint-Denis and “Paris 2024 is cooperating with the investigators to facilitate their investigations.” The raids unfolded at the same time as the IOC executive board began a two-day meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“Paris 2024 is cooperating fully with the investigators to facilitate their inquiries,” Paris 2024 said in a statement on Tuesday. “We do not have anything else to share at the moment.”
“We are aware that there has been a search by police of the Paris 2024 headquarters today,” an IOC spokesperson said. “We have been informed by Paris 2024 that they are cooperating fully with the authorities in this matter.”
No additional comment came from IOC representatives on Tuesday during a press conference discussing executive board actions. The IOC Coordination Commission and Paris 2024 organizers put on a united face earlier this month, declaring preparations on schedule.
An official with the French financial prosecutor’s office said Tuesday the searches are linked to two preliminary investigations related to the Paris Olympics that had not previously been made public. According to Le Monde, raids also took place at the offices of the public body in charge of Olympic infrastructure and at the headquarters of several companies and consultants linked to the organization of the games.
One of the probes was opened in 2017 — the year Paris was picked by the IOC as the 2024 host — into suspected embezzlement of public funds and favoritism, and concerns about an unspecified contract reached by Paris organizers, the prosecutor’s office said.
The other was opened in 2022 following an audit by the French Anti-Corruption Agency. The prosecutor’s office said that case targets suspected conflict of interest and favoritism involving several contracts reached by the organizing committee and Solideo, the company which oversees construction and renovation or more than 60 projects for the multibillion-dollar Olympics — including the athletes’ village in the Saint-Denis neighborhood that is set to provide about 2,000 housing units after the games.
In a statement, Paris 2024 described itself “as one of the most audited organizations in France,” with regular monitoring of its governance and tough procedures aimed at “transparency and propriety” around contracts.
The Paris Olympics are scheduled to start July 26, 2024. Paris becomes the third straight Summer Games organizer implicated in investigations led by anti-corruption authorities in the French capital. Vote-buying allegations linked to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the 2020 Tokyo Games previously removed several members of the IOC from that organization.
When Paris was picked six years ago, it was at the same time the IOC also rewarded its only remaining bid rival, Los Angeles, with the 2028 Summer Games. Avoiding a contested vote removed the scope for vote-trading and bribery in a process that has since changed again effectively to shut down public campaigning. Brisbane was picked two years ago as the 2032 Summer Games host after being pre-selected by the IOC.
Next year’s Games have been highly anticipated given it will be the first Games open to the public since the pandemic closed Tokyo in 2021 and Beijing in 2022 to fans and sponsors. Tickets have been in high demand for the first Olympics held in Europe since Sochi hosted the Winter Games in 2014. Paris 2024 organizers have been repeatedly promoting its sustainability plans with more than 70% of the proposed venues being existing facilities, with a further 25% being temporary structures. The overall budget for the Games, including the cost of building and renovating venues, is about $8.2 billion and has gone up from its original estimate in part because of inflation.