Paris is determined to hold the 2024 Olympic Games in some ways never tried before, Tony Estanguet, head of the Paris 2024 organising committee, has said. The 2024 Olympics will be games open to the public, said Estanguet, who won Olympic gold in C1 canoe slalom at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and London 2012.
“Through an open Games, we have the ambition to bring sport into the heart of Paris, closer to the fans. The first-ever mass participation marathon on the same day and same course of the Olympic marathon, and an Opening Ceremony on the River Seine, are just some of the ways we plan to open up the Games to a wider audience than ever before,” he told Xinhua in an interview.
“As of today, I can say that we haven’t lost sight of that ambition and that our preparations continue to be on track and on budget,” said the former Olympic champion.
Some competitions of the Paris Olympics will take place in the spectacular heritage, culture and historic landmarks of Paris. For example, The Grand Palais will hold fencing and taekwondo, the Champ-de-Mars Arena will stage judo and wrestling.
“We know we are blessed with one of the most beautiful cities in the world and so our ambition right from the very start was to integrate the Games into the City of Paris as much as possible,” said Estanguet.
“Paris is our field of play, and we plan to make the most of it. This will also create some iconic backdrops for television for the benefit of all fans watching from home,” he said.
Estanguet revealed how the Paris 2024 organisers came up with the plan to hold the opening ceremony on the Seine.
“The idea of holding a ceremony in the city itself, on the Seine, arose from the ambition shared by all the stakeholders involved to produce a ceremony that is spectacular, accessible, open to as many people as possible, and which will mark a turning point in the history of the Games,” he told Xinhua.
“It is an ambition that has been welcomed by the IOC, with its President Thomas Bach encouraging Paris 2024 to work towards such a ceremony.”
“Then, after many months of research and work, the idea became more concrete and with the encouraging results of the feasibility studies conducted over recent months.”
“We are planning a spectacular concept for the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony that has never been done before: the first to take place out of the stadium, in the heart of the city, on the River Seine, attended by 600,000 people (10 times more than in a stadium) with free access,” Estanguet said.
He said the Paris Olympic organisers are determined to push ahead with their plan despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As of today, our primary focus is to deliver on our ambition. We must not lose sight of it. Of course, we have to plan for, and be ready to adapt to a whole multitude of different potential scenarios in 2024,” he said.
“However, we take great encouragement by the fact that sporting events in France and all around the world are today able to take place in packed stadia. We remain optimistic that COVID-19 will not have a material impact on the successful delivery of our Games in 2024,” he added.
Estanguet ensured that the athletes who will compete in the Paris Olympics will have an enjoyable experience thanks to the involvement of some former Olympians in the management of these Olympics.
“As athletes, we have experienced what it is like to compete on the greatest stage of all. We also understand how important it is for athletes to have a smooth and enjoyable Olympic and Paralympic experience so that they can focus on what really matters — their performances,” he said.
“That’s why right from the very start, we have included Olympians and Paralympians at the very heart of our concept, planning and decision making.”
“Our project is all about putting on an event that is designed both for the athletes and by the athletes. That’s why we’ve set up an 18-member Athletes’ Commission to give them a voice”
“As a former athlete, I often did not get to enjoy the cities I competed in as much as I would have liked. However, thanks to our innovative ceremony, Olympians competing in 2024 will be able to travel on boats 6km up the River Seine and experience many of Paris’ most historic and spectacular landmarks,” he added.