I have lived in an Olympic city twice before, and I can tell you from experience that there is nothing quite like the energy of the Olympic Games. It is like the whole city is alive, buzzing with excitement and anticipation. And in exactly two years from today, I will find myself in my third Olympic host city when the Paris 2024 games open on July 26th. Am I looking forward to them? You bet.
A New Model of Olympics
It is no secret that the Olympics are expensive. The 2014 games in Sochi were the most expensive in history, with final costs totalling approximately $55B USD. It was a price tag that everyone involved with the Olympics quickly realized was entirely unsustainable. Since then, there has been a push to bring down costs and make hosting the Olympics more economically feasible.
Paris 2024 will test this new model with a slimmed down approach to hosting the games. For the first time in history, the construction budget is lower than the operational budget. This is because 95% of the venues are pre-existing or will be temporary spaces. In total, the overall price tag of $7.5B is about a third of what Tokyo 2020 cost. That being said, Olympic budgets are notorious for being overrun, so we’ll have to see what the final price tag is in two years.
An Olympics for Everyone
Another new direction for these games is the push to bring them to everyone. Paris 2024 is focused on being open and accessible for all, participant or spectator. Instead of taking place in an isolated and ticketed Olympic park somewhere in the suburbs, venues in Paris will be spread all throughout the city. Beach volleyball on the Champ de Mars. Fencing and Taekwando at the Grand Palais. Equestrian in the gardens of Versailles. Organizers have vowed to sell over 13 million tickets, with at least half of those costing less than 50 Euros. Paris 2024 will also be the first Olympic Games in history with 100% equal gender representation.
And then there’s the matter of the opening ceremony. Instead of being held in a stadium for those lucky enough to nab a ticket, the opening and closing ceremonies are being planned as spectacular outdoor events on the river Seine. Hundreds of boats will carry the Olympic delegations across the city, and over 600,000 people will be able to watch the ceremony from the banks of the river, many free of charge. It will be the first time in history that the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics will be held outside of a stadium, and it promises to be an extraordinary sight.
See you in 2024!
Of course, no Olympics are without controversy. Paris 2024 has already faced sponsor issues, construction delays, staffing shortages, and rising costs. There is the ongoing question about Russian athletes’ ability to compete given the ongoing war in Ukraine. And overall security remains an open question. The opening ceremony, as innovative as it may be, sounds like a particular logistical nightmare to me. There are certainly a lot of questions yet to be answered as we head into the final two years of preparations.
But despite all this, I’m still excited. Living in a host city during the Olympics is a singularly unique and special experience. Good or bad, it is something you will never forget. On July 26th, 2024, the Paris Olympic Games will begin. Who knows what will happen over the course of the following two weeks. All I know is that I will be watching with bated breath.
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.