Paris 2024 has selected Stade Pierre-Mauroy, the home of Ligue 1 football club Lille OSC, as the new destination for basketball preliminary rounds during the Olympic Games following a backlash against the originally planned venue.
Paris 2024 said that following discussions with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), its Board of Directors has given the green light for the proposed venue switch.
It was revealed last month that the local organising committee had been unable to reach an agreement with FIBA on where preliminary basketball games should be played, with a plan to stage fixtures in Lille having been criticised by the sport’s global governing body.
Paris 2024 has been seeking a new venue to host basketball games before the medal rounds after the Arena Paris Sud Hall 6 was deemed unfit to stage the fixtures. Organisers had chosen the venue as it tied in with the IOC’s vision of using existing or temporary facilities at the Games.
However, the venue drew criticism from members of the French basketball team, which won the silver medal at Tokyo 2020, who labelled the facility as “embarrassing” amid concerns over its low ceiling and potential lack of ventilation.
Following yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) meeting, Paris 2024 said: “Stade Pierre-Mauroy has a history of hosting major international competitions. The record attendance for a basketball match in Europe was broken at Stade Pierre-Mauroy at the EuroBasket final in 2015 (27,372 spectators).
“This new arrangement has the benefit of providing greater coherence between different team sports. With the basketball preliminaries being held in Lille, the handball preliminaries can be staged in Paris, in Hall 6 of the Parc des Expositions at Porte de Versailles. Thus, handball players will have the possibility of competing in Paris.
“From the quarter-finals onwards, the basketball competition will take place at Arena Bercy in the heart of Paris. This option also helps optimise the use of existing competition venues and keeps the budget under control thanks to the exceptional capacity of the competition site in Lille.”
Paris 2024 said the IOC will provide a final approval of the change, which is now set to see basketball instead of handball at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, after full completion of the technical assessments as to the stadium’s compliance with FIBA’s requirements.
Yesterday’s meeting also ratified other venue changes initially validated by the Executive Board on June 23. The Board of Directors has confirmed that the shooting and shooting Para sport events are to be moved, with the National Sports Shooting Centre in Châteauroux now the favoured option.
Paris 2024 said the decision has been made drawing upon “positive exchanges” with the Fédération Nationale de Tir (National Shooting Federation), and the “enthusiasm” of the elected regional authorities, adding it is continuing discussions with those involved to finalise the technical and financial matters relating to this new host territory.
The ‘Terrain des Essences’, in La Courneuve, which was initially identified to host the shooting and shooting Para sport, will remain a competition venue. It will serve as the starting point for the Para marathon and the mass event in road cycling, with Paris 2024 noting there is less temporary infrastructure required for these two events.
It added: “The large-scale decontamination and renaturing work will continue on the 13-hectare site, meaning the Games leave a lasting legacy that will benefit the area and its residents.”
The Board of Directors has approved the site of Villepinte, in Seine-Saint-Denis, to host the boxing preliminaries, the fencing ranking round of modern pentathlon and sitting volleyball during the Paralympic Games.
Court Suzanne-Lenglen at Stade Roland-Garros had earlier been deemed not suitable for the preliminary phase of the boxing and seated volleyball competitions. The final stages of the boxing events will still be held in Roland Garros however, on Court Philippe-Chatrier, after the tennis competition concludes.
Paris 2024 has been seeking that the whole of Seine-Saint-Denis, one of the poorest departments of France which will also host athletics and rugby sevens at the Stade de France, will be showcased during the Games.
It said yesterday: “With Villepinte, and with the para cycling events being held at Clichy-Sous-Bois, in addition to all the sites that are already on the venues master plan, Seine-Saint-Denis is, even more than before, at the very heart of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
In other news, the Board of Directors has officially mandated Paris 2024 to present to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) an alternative concept of a Paralympic Games opening ceremony in the heart of the host city. Organised on the iconic Place de la Concorde, Paris 2024 said the ceremony will offer Paralympic athletes a “unique experience”.
Paris 2024 added: “Discussions will be held in the coming weeks with the IPC to agree on areas such as spectator capacity, accessibility, athletes’ experience and budget, to define the most appropriate scenario for the Paralympics Games opening ceremony.”
In December it was announced that Paris 2024 will stage the first-ever Olympic Games opening ceremony outside of a stadium environment with the athletes’ parade to be held along the River Seine. The two closing ceremonies will take place at the Stade de France.
The proposals ratified yesterday are now set to be officially presented to the IOC and IPC for final validation.
Image: Dronepicr/CC BY 3.0/Edited for size