John Sachs/Tech-Fall, July 26, 2024
With a backdrop of war, climate chaos, and continued economic uncertainty, the Paris Olympic Games mark one year to the Opening Ceremony on July 26, 2024. High hopes prevail as the French grapple with civil unrest, delayed infrastructure projects, and one of the hottest summers on record. The French local organizers and the International Olympic Committee are confident they can navigate the obstacles ahead to deliver a memorable Games as well as set standards for future Games.
High hopes for success were expressed as the Paris 24 countdown clock was installed in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The Paris 2024 Organising Committee looks to build excitement and anticipation ahead of next year’s Games.
IOC President and German lawyer, Thomas Bach, recently hosted a roundtable to answer concerns and take questions from the world media. In his opening remarks to the virtual gathering, Bach expressed his hopes for upcoming Games. “My expectations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games of Paris 2024 are the expectations of millions of people around the globe. We want to get together again after the pandemic and celebrate sport. Paris 24 will serve as a blueprint that will help shape future editions of the Olympic Games and inspire other major sporting events.”
Bach dismissed any impact from the civil unrest taking place throughout France as unrelated to the Olympics. “I feel very confident that the Games will take place in a peaceful environment and that the sports loving French people will celebrate the best athletes of the world.”
All recent Games have promoted plans to address climate concerns, and Paris 24 was no exception. Bach highlighted the IOC plan for the 2024 edition. “Paris 2024 will be sustainable: 95% of the venues are existing or temporary. Paris 2024 plans to cut the game’s carbon footprint in half and plans to use 100% renewable energy.” President Macron and France have been leaders in addressing climate change and look to set the standard for future Games.
Bach’s discussion of Russian/Belarussian participation in the Games was a balance beam routine worthy of 9.0 score. He sees signs of progress in some minor sports while encouraging others to finalize their guidelines for inclusion. He expressed confidence this could be accomplished while asserting that the IOC retains the final decision. “We have the responsibility not to punish athletes for the acts of their governments.” Bach concluded. “We are determined to do everything we can to accomplish our mission, and that is uniting athletes from the entire world in a peaceful competition.”
The organizers plans are as bold as they are ambitious … delivering an Opening Ceremony that will make history by taking place along a 6km route on the river Seine in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators and then showcasing sports new to Olympic competition including Breaking (break dancing), as the IOC continues its quest broaden the Game’s appeal to younger audiences. Ambitious indeed have been the plans to host three Olympic and Paralympic swimming events – triathlon, marathon swimming, and Para-triathlon – in the river Seine in central Paris. The decades long clean-up program is nearing completion, so the Seine will welcome Olympic competition after a 100-year absence.
The potential for high marks from the world’s judges is there, but can Paris 24 stick the landing? With one year to go, all dreams are possible.