The inhabitants of Paris were invited to hold a referendum on the issue of holding the Summer Olympic Games in the city in 2024. This idea was put forward by the mayor of the 2nd district, Jacques Butot, representing the alliance "Europe Ecology Green". In his opinion, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis caused by it, the townspeople have the right to decide again whether it is necessary to carry out such an important event in four years.
“Is it appropriate to hold the Olympic Games in Paris in the same format? Shouldn't we take the opportunity to rethink everything, as well as find out the opinion of Parisians? Wouldn’t it be wiser to wait another year, as Tokyo did, and discuss the Olympic Games in Paris in 2025? ” - the politician wondered in a conversation with Le Parisien.
A referendum on the cancellation of the Games was proposed by one of the most ardent opponents of the Olympics in Paris, a member of the city council, Daniel Simonne. She believes that this topic is now “more relevant than ever.” In the past, Simonne repeatedly stated that the capital of France should not organize the main competitions of the four-year-old, and even took part in the anti-Olympic demonstration in Tokyo last year.
The reason for the growing discontent among local politicians was the latest statements by French Minister of Sports Roxanne Marasinyanu. She warned that the Olympics budget would be exceeded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The estimated costs will undoubtedly be exceeded. But you should know that the situation will be controlled by all interested parties. Not only the organizing committee is responsible for managing the budget. This issue is under the strict joint control of the state and all groups involved in the work. If you have to make adjustments, then we will vote for them together and put them into practice. But the current scheme already did not correspond to the traditional one, ”Marasinyan said.
France’s economy is going through hard times. In the first quarter of 2020, a fall in GDP of 5.8% was recorded - this is the worst indicator for the country since 1949. The sports industry is seriously affected by the coronavirus pandemic, since until September the country will be banned from hosting competitions, although such restrictions are gradually being removed in other European countries, including neighboring ones.
Before Paris politicians began to discuss the possibility of organizing a referendum that could lead to the refusal to hold competitions, the head of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, Tony Estange, spoke in defense of the Olympics. Three-time Olympic champion in rowing slalom believes that competition will only help the French economy. However, he agrees that changes must be made to the organization of the Games.
“The country needs a project that contributes to the economy and social life, which will bring people together. More than ever, we need such a project, we need to leave the best of it, while not changing its essence. We are on the right track. Currently, our strategy is rather aimed at how, without changing the basis of the project, to adapt the organizational side of the Games, ”Inside The Games quotes Estange.
The former athlete promised to save “millions of euros” due to the redistribution of transport costs, accommodation of guests and staff. So, he doubted the need to organize a bus shuttle system, since in Paris there is already a developed system of metro and commuter trains. In addition, he considers it appropriate to reduce the capacity of the Olympic village from 17 thousand places to 15 thousand.
One of the main expenses of the Paris Olympics is the construction of a center for water sports competitions. It is planned to be built in the suburbs of Saint-Denis next to the main football stadium of the country "Stade de France". The cost of the arena will be € 147 million, although previously it was discussed the possibility of spending only € 87 million on it. Taking into account unforeseen circumstances and additional costs, the city authorities may need € 174 million.
At the same time, construction of other large sports facilities for the Olympic Games is not planned - they are either already ready, or temporary facilities will be used to conduct competitions.