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OLYMPICS

Paris 2024: France launches construction of the Olympic village

The French government on Monday launched construction on a massive project to build from scratch the village for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, a development that aims to reinvigorate the poorest area in the country.

Paris 2024: France launches construction of the Olympic village
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu launch the project. Photo: AFP

The Olympic village, which will house some 15,000 athletes and officials, is being built in the Seine-Saint-Denis area north of Paris, which for years has suffered from social tensions and neglect.

But the project is also controversial locally as it will force the relocation of residents, businesses and even schools in the area where the village is to be constructed.

 

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe launched the works, which are set to last over three years, in the suburb of Saint-Ouen.

Putting a strong emphasis on legacy, the authorities plan after the games to reconfigure the area into a new neighbourhood that will offer a total of 3,000 homes and also increase participation in sports.

“If we want them (the Games) to be a success we must make sure that all this organisation, all this financing and this mobilisation does not just vanish when the Olympic flame goes out,” said Philippe as he launched the works.

“It needs to last,” he added.

READ ALSO 'Lisa Simpson or an emoji' – Paris Olympic logo sparks (affectionate) ridicule


Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo at the launch. Photo: AFP

Legacy is now a huge aspect of Olympic developments, especially after the success of the London 2012 Olympics which helped breathe new life into the east of the British capital.

There have already been protests locally against the Olympic village project, which requires the clearing of a zone that is home to over 20 businesses, three schools, a hotel, a student residence and a residence for foreign workers.

“We have been here for 40 years and now there is no longer any space for us,” said Boubacar Diallo, who represents foreign workers living in a residence.

Two new residences should be finished by 2022 to house all those affected. But the residents are rejecting the temporary housing on offer until they are completed.

Responding to the criticism, Solideo, the public company overseeing all the works, insisted the local area would get a boost.

“What is going to happen over the next 3-4 years is compensation for what has not happened the last 30 years”, it said.

The budget for the games amounts to €6.8 billion, €1.5 billion of which will come from the state.

The French authorities have long expressed concern over the stark disparities in the Paris area, with wealthy citizens concentrated in the centre but northern areas far less well-off.

A report in June said rising property prices had widened the gap between rich and poor in the Paris region, where the number of people living in poverty has increased.

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OLYMPICS

MAP: Here is where events will be held for 2024 Paris Olympics

Organisers of the Paris Olympics have released a new list of venues for events in the 2024 games - including one 15,000km away from Paris.

MAP: Here is where events will be held for 2024 Paris Olympics
Photo: AFP

The revised map of venues still needs to be approved by the board of directors on December 17th, but is expected to remain unchanged.

Faced with the financial crisis caused by the pandemic and lockdowns, the Paris committee has come up with a revised venue list which its says will save €150 million by scrapping two building projects and amalgamating other events into the same venue.

The big loser is the département of Seine-Saint-Denis north of Paris, which was to get two new temporary sites for aquatic events and volleyball.

However the area keeps the Olympic Village for athletes, while the opening ceremony and athletics events will be at Stade de France in the area.

 

Here is a high-res version of the above map, and here is an overview of the revised map of events;

Lille – The handball events, previously planned for Paris, will be held at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille in northern France.

Marseille – the southern city of Marseille will hold sailing events

Tahiti – will host surfing. The island of Tahiti is part of French Polynesia, one of France's overseas territories, which makes it technically part of France, despite being 15,000km away from Paris.

Versailles – The site of one of the world's most famous royal palaces is only about 20km outside Paris and will host equestrian events and the modern pentathlon.

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines – the Vélodrome nationale in the town of Saint-Quentin, about 25km outside Paris, will host the track cycling events, while golf will be held in the same town.

Elancourt – the town of Elancourt, about 30km from Paris, will hold the mountain bike events, while nearby Trappes will host the BMX bike events.

Vaires-sur-Marne – the commune about 25km east of Paris will host canoeing and kayaking at the Stade nautique.

Paris

But unsurprisingly for a Paris Olympics, most events are in or around the city. Here's an overview of the bigger events.

Stade de France – France's 81,000-seater national stadium in the suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis north of Paris will host the opening ceremony, followed by athletics and rugby.

Seine-Saint-Denis is one of France's poorest départements, and the Olympics had been envisaged as a major regeneration project for the area. In spite of the loss of two venues in the cost-cutting programme, there is still plenty happened in the northern area.

Diving, synchronised swimming and water polo will all be held in the Aquatics Centre.

Olympic Village – the athletes will stay in purpose-build accommodation in Saint-Denis which afterwards will be available as housing for local people.

Shooting, climbing and the media centre will be hosted in Le Bourget, Seine-Saint-Denis.

Hockey – will be held in Colombes, in the Hauts-de-Seine département to the west of the city.

Moving within the city boundaries there are 12 locations that will be used for Olympic events.

Swimming – will be at the La Défense Arena in western Paris. A multi-function arena, it is the home of Stade Français rugby club, while also hosting multiple sports events and being used as a music venue in the evening.

Tennis and boxing – Roland Garros – home of the French Open – will naturally host tennis events, as well as boxing.

Table-tennis, weight-lifting, volleyball and basketball – the Parc des Expositions will host these events and the preliminary matches of the basketball events.

Gymnastics and basketball – the Accor Arena hosts the finals of the basketball, as well as gymnastics events.

Football – Parc des Princes, home of Paris-Saint-Germain, will host the football.

Badminton, rhythmic gymnastics – the La Chapelle arena hosts rhythmic gymnastics events, plus badminton.

But the Paris committee is also keen to use non-sporting venues to host events, including plenty of outdoor venues, to really integrate the games into the daily life of the city.

Taekwondo and fencing – the beautiful and historic Grand Palais, which usually operates as a museum, will host fencing and taekwondo.

Cycling – some cycle events will finish along the Champs-Elysée, as the Tour de France does.

Urban sports – this year's new events, including breakdancing, and other urban sports will be held in the Place de la Concorde

Archery – will be held at Invalides, a historic landmark begun in 1690 on the orders of Louis XIV for injured soldiers.

Wrestling, judo and beach-volleyball – will be held on the Champs-de-Mars, next to the Eiffel Tower.

Cycling, walking racing, marathon, triathlon and open-water swimming – these will all be held partially on (or underneath in the case of the swimming) the Pont d'Iéna over the River Seine in central Paris. 

The games run from July 26th to August 11th, 2024, followed by the Paralympic Games from August 28th to  September 8th, 2024.

 

 

 

 

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