IOC gives green light to Paris 2024’s urban sports arena

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved Paris 2024’s innovative plan to showcase urban sports at the Olympic Games at an arena developed on the Place de la Concorde.

The organising committee for the Games in the French capital first announced plans for a new 35,000-seat arena back in December, stating it would provide a “totally new experience” and attract “new types of spectators”.

The arena will be located in the Place de la Concorde square, which connects the Champs-Elysées to the Tuileries Gardens. The IOC’s Executive Board (EB) yesterday (Tuesday) gave its approval for the plan, stating that the arena in the heart of the city would act to showcase Paris’ heritage and offer “exceptional images” of the events to a global audience.

Although the sports that will be contested at the venue are yet to be finalised, it is likely that the arena will stage urban sports such as breaking, sports climbing, skateboarding, BMX freestyle and 3×3 basketball. The exact sports and disciplines to be housed in the temporary venue will be confirmed in December following this year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

The IOC said in a statement: “Fully aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020’s the New Norm, the unique venue concept of a temporary multi-sport venue in the heart of the city is expected to be cost- and operationally efficient. This once again exemplifies Paris’ commitment to Olympic Agenda 2020 and its New Norm.

“It also builds upon the innovations made to the Olympic programme for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, which will be showcased in a new urban park – Waterfront City – as well as Paris 2024’s proposed addition of breaking to its Games programme.”

Paris 2024 said it is working closely with the International Federations concerned, the IOC and Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) to look into the various options relating to the Place de la Concorde site. As well as sport, the new arena will also host cultural celebrations encompassing events such as shows and concerts.

The IOC’s EB meeting also gave the green light to Paris 2024’s innovative plan to stage surfing events in Tahiti at Teahupo’o, on its world-famous wave.  Surfing is set to make its Olympic Games debut at Tokyo 2020 but four years on will be held in French Polynesia – almost 16,000km from France. Tahiti was selected by Paris 2024 in December ahead of Biarritz Pays Basque, Lacanau-Bordeaux Métropole, La Torche and Hossegor-Seignosse-Capbreton.

The IOC said its decision to rubber-stamp the proposal followed an in-depth review of the venue to ensure that a stringent environmental framework would be used and the best sporting conditions would be met.

The event will aim to achieve a net positive impact on biodiversity, with Paris 2024 working in close continual cooperation with the local community and Polynesian authorities to optimise the environmental footprint. This will include the use of existing infrastructure used at international surfing events regularly staged at Teahupo’o.

The world’s best surfers will be housed for the duration of the competition in an athletes’ village made up of temporary modular houses, modelled on traditional Polynesian homes known as ‘farés’, which will be dismantled after the competition and redeployed as social housing on Tahiti and other Polynesian islands.

Commenting on the IOC approval, Paris 2024 president Tony Estanguet said: “This marks another milestone with our ambition to deliver spectacular and sustainable Games that will offer a unique experience for athletes.

“The organisation of the surfing events at Teahupo’o is also an opportunity to bring to life a new model for delivering Games that are aligned with the IOC’s New Norm, where the event adapts to the site, while integrating a strong environmental ambition.”

Image: Paris 2024