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  • Writer's pictureDr Zied Abbes

Paris 2024: Can the City of Lights Overcome Olympic Hurdles?

Throughout history, major sporting events have provided a global stage that ensures maximum publicity. The 2024 Olympic Games in Paris promise to be a spectacle, with the City of Lights taking center stage. However, beneath the glimmer of athletic glory and international coverage lie significant challenges that organizers must navigate to ensure a smooth and successful event.

One of the major challenges for Paris 2024 is the rumors and the disinformation campaigns that may affect the games on many levels like the latest rumours about the postponement or cancellation of the games which was denied recently by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the local organizing committee. However, what could possibly go wrong in one of the most prestigious sporting events in history?

Outlined below are various potential challenges that may confront the Olympic Committee and the 10,500 athletes hailing from 206 National Olympic Committees, all converging for this grand event.


1.     The Security Concerns:

The event will be held in 36 locations across France, as well as one in Tahiti, and is expected to attract about 13.5 million people. France, like many nations, grapples with the ever-present threat of terrorism. Thus, 20,000 soldiers will be deployed across the country, along with 40,000 police and gendarmes ensuring the safety of athletes, spectators, and officials during the games. Striking a balance between robust security measures and maintaining an open atmosphere is crucial.




2.      Public Transportation:

"There will be places where (public) transport will not be ready because there will not be enough trains and not frequently enough," The Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told news show Quotidien. Nevertheless, Paris boasts a well-developed public transport system, but the influx of visitors during the Games could strain its capacity. Additionally, potential labor strikes by transportation workers could disrupt travel for athletes and fans. The IDFM, which coordinates the Paris region's public transport network, has drawn up 125 "plan B" scenarios in the event of breakdowns, changes to the timetable or the closure of shuttle services due to accidents, for example.


3.     A River Runs Not-So-Clean:

The iconic Seine River, a centrepiece of the Games, is set to host the triathlon events. Yet, concerns linger about its water quality. Despite a multi-million-dollar clean-up effort, ensuring the river’s safety for athletes raises questions about its lasting impact on the environment. This issue is not new; it has a long history, highlighted by the cancellation of last year’s Open Water World Cup due to poor water quality. According to the 2006 European Bathing Water Directive, none of the 14 water sampling points in Paris reached a sufficient quality level in 2023, particularly from June to September. Though the results have yet to meet expectations, hopes remain high for the world’s grandest sporting event. Ultimately, waiting until the last moment is no plan for athletes or coaches.


4.     The Cost of Glory:

Hosting an Olympic Games may not be as economically beneficial as you would think. There is no singular price, as every city's situation is different, but the cost is generally in the tens of billions of dollars: Athens 2004 ($15 billion), Beijing ($42 billion), London 2012 ($14.6 billion), Rio de Janeiro 2016 (($20 billion). Paris, for example, will receive predicted economic benefits of $12.2 billion during its upcoming Olympics, but the city has already spent $9.7 billion, even before a single event has taken place. And while some may view the Olympics as a tourist trap to bring in money, data shows that tourism in Olympic cities often declines. Data from Paris-based consultancy MKG shows hotel reservations have dropped since last year for the weeks ahead of the Olympics, along with a 25% revenue decline for much of June. London experienced something similar in 2012. It only saw a 3% increase in arrivals, as many tourists steered clear of a city that would normally be inundated with tourists over the summer. In addition, Air France-KLM , is expecting weaker-than-expected summer sales as travelers avoid the Olympics.

The Olympics are a financial behemoth. Through history, Los Angeles in 1984 remains the "only host city that realized a profit from the games," Investopedia said, but this is largely "because the infrastructure required of them already existed." Will the Paris 2024 Games be different? – I doubt it -


5.     Beyond the Glitter: Social Impact

Beyond the glory of the games, the daily lives of city residents can often be significantly affected. During Tokyo's 2020 Olympics, around 300 households were relocated to make way for the events. This type of displacement is not new. Over the past fifty years, more than two million people have lost their homes due to the gentrification and remodeling of cities for the world's largest sporting event, according to the Post.

However, hosting the Olympics could also be a transformative opportunity for the capital and its neighbouring departments, such as Seine-Saint-Denis, which will host the Olympic Village in 2024. As part of an "urban regeneration" initiative, more than 3,500 new eco-friendly housing units will be created for the event, ultimately benefiting the residents of the department.

 

In conclusion, despite these hurdles, the spirit of the Olympics remains: Competition, Unity, and the Pursuit of excellence. The ingenuity and dedication of the organizers will be tested, but Paris has a chance to showcase its resilience and creativity on the world stage.

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