By Youmna Yarak | Writer
As France prepares for one of the biggest events it hosted over the years, debates and controversy sparked among the public as to whether the city is ready to welcome the Olympic Games in 2024.
From sports enthusiasts to supporters to simple spectators, the Olympic Games reunite people from all around the world every four years to watch and celebrate international sports. Paris will host the Olympic Games from July 26 to August 11, and the Paralympics from August 28 to September 8, 2024, placing the French capital at the heart of international sports news for the summer. Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris took on a risky bet to host the Olympic Games in Paris. Many concerns and discussions sparked among the public as to whether the city is ready to take on such a big challenge. Planning, security, tourism, budget, and transport are among the matters that worry Parisians.
The organization of the Games had planned to rely mainly on existing infrastructures, where Paris will not be transfigured at the urban level. But the construction of an arena, in “Porte de la Chapelle”, accelerated the transformation of north-eastern Paris. Despite this, the capital is facing many challenges which include: guaranteeing the reception and smooth circulation of the millions of visitors expected, ensuring the safety of the competitions, and in particular the opening ceremony which will be held on the Seine. Another main challenge includes preventing the budget devoted to the organization does not slip which would weigh down public finances. But the main aim of Hidalgo is to demonstrate to the whole world that the “city of light” has not lost its luster.
If the City of Paris lacks the expertise and ability to handle all of these files, in particular those of transport, budget, security, and logistics, as well as the respect for human rights, concerns will arise when determining whether or not the Olympic Games will be successful. Just 18 days before the opening ceremony, Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, who also gives a good part of her political strategy to the organization of the Olympic meeting, has answered questions relating specifically to this event.
In a live interview with the French media “Le Monde”, the mayor answered questions that kindle controversies. For instance, Manon. B asked: “How are you going to defend LGBTQ rights during the Olympics when you are going to welcome countries that kill and/or condemn the queer community (Qatar, Morocco, Mali…)?”; or “Paris is unfortunately renowned for its low level of cleanliness (correlated to its higher population density than most other capitals). Have you planned actions, both curative and preventive, to change this image with the massive flow of foreign tourists?” said another Parisian citizen. For all that, one thing is sure, Hidalgo is fighting to make the Games her own.
Finally, the scenes of havoc near the Champions League final in May 2022 raised questions about the ability of French authorities to ensure the security of major international sporting events. Forty-eight hours after the incidents around the “Stade de France”, a question lingers on: Will France be able to ensure the security of the Rugby World Cup, in the fall of 2023, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, in the summer of 2024? The two global sporting events will attract millions of fans to their respective sites. In view of the chaotic scenes on Saturday, 28 May 2022, shortly before the Champions League football final between Real Madrid and Liverpool many people were wondering the same question. Yet one answer prevails, Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris is ready to make this event an unforgettable and successful one.