Paris 2024 gets green light for revamped venue plan

The venue concept for the 2024 summer Olympic Games has been revamped as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and local organisers in Paris seek to address fears over rising costs related to stadia and arenas for the event.

The new concept was approved by the IOC Executive Board yesterday (Thursday) following talks held between Paris 2024 and the International Federations (IFs) and National Federations (NFs) of badminton, basketball, judo, wrestling, swimming and volleyball.

The finalised plan introduces the historic Grand Palais (pictured) into the list of venues and builds on an initial draft drawn up in June after the French government’s financial inspectors warned of a potential overspend of up to €500m (£440.8m/$574.9m) on infrastructure development.

The main changes to the concept include an altered plan for the Olympic Aquatics Centre (OAC), which will see all aquatics events, apart from the 10km marathon, take place on a single site at Plaine Saulnier in Saint-Denis, next to the Stade de France. This will create a venue cluster with athletics that will be located just a few metres from the Olympic Village, with the OAC the only new competition venue built for the Games.

Paris 2024 will now utilise the temporary Grand Palais, a facility being created to host the major art, fashion and sport shows and events usually held at the venue during its renovation. The temporary facility will now be retained until September 2024 to host the Paris 2024 judo and wrestling events in front of up to 9,000 spectators.

This means a temporary venue at Le Bourget, which was originally planned to host badminton, can now be scrapped. Instead, badminton events will now be held at Arena 2, a 7,500-seat arena scheduled to be built regardless of the Olympics as a new home for the city’s basketball, handball and volleyball clubs.

Volleyball will switch to a 12,000-capacity facility at Le Bourget. Finally, with judo moved to the Grand Palais, all basketball disciplines will now be situated at Paris Arena 1. Organisers claim this will provide cost savings on another venue, Stade Pierre-de-Coubertin, which had previously been scheduled to host preliminary women’s basketball matches.

Commenting on the new concept, the chair of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for Paris 2024, Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant, said: “The outcome is a better master plan, which avoids any unnecessary permanent construction and delivers a new iconic venue to the Games. I am particularly pleased that a solution has been found to leave an increased swimming legacy to the Seine Saint-Denis region, where half of all children leaving primary school are unable to swim.”

Paris 2024 will see 80% of competition venues located within a 10km radius of the Olympic Village, while 85% of athletes will stay within 30 minutes of their competition venues. Most of these venues are located in one of two zones; the first in the centre of Paris and the other in Greater Paris, mostly in Seine Saint-Denis.

The Olympic Games sport and venue concept will be finalised in 2021, following the IOC’s final decision, scheduled for late 2020, on the sports programme for Paris 2024.

Image: Paris 2024