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Concerns and controversies facing Paris 2024 Olympics

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The 2024 Summer Olympics, which Paris is preparing to host, are fast approaching but major issues remain unresolved given the time remaining for the tournament.

Preparations for the international tournament were supposed to be a demonstration of the achievements and capabilities of the European power, but the attention has been turned elsewhere. Russia and some rights organizations are on record questioning the conditions that have defined the tournament’s preparations.

The entire history of the modern Olympic movement, revived in 1896 by the French aristocrat Pierre de Coubertin, was accompanied by fierce competition between many nations for the right to organize and host competitions on their territory. This race to host the Games had many political and economic reasons and entailed conflicts, intrigues, and even bribery of high-ranking sports officials.

Although Olympic competitions usually last no more than one month, the countries that get to host them have the opportunity to highlight their technological and economic achievements to the world, and invest heavily in their own sporting, transport, and tourism infrastructure, which then becomes a magnet for new tournaments and many tourists. Thus, while no Olympics in recent decades has ever paid for itself as an individual event, the long-term multiplier effect of hosting the games ultimately outweighs the costs.

Paris won the right to host the 2024 Olympics in 2017. However, a majority of candidates to host the competition withdrew their applications including at the selection stage. For economic and internal political reasons, Budapest, Hamburg, and Rome cancelled their bids to host the Games in 2024, as the cost of the Olympic project was considered exorbitant and unjustified by their authorities and citizens. As a result, the International Olympic Committee had to choose from only two candidates – Paris and Los Angeles, with the American metropolis still getting the opportunity to host the games in 2028.

Having won the right to host the 2024 Olympics in the absence of serious competition, France expected to renovate the transport and tourist infrastructure of its capital in 7 years, build new stadiums and sports grounds, and restore the former luster of the European capital and the center of the colonial empire. Nevertheless, despite a considerable period for all works and a budget of $8.3 billion, there is concern that the French have not been able to adequately prepare for the Summer Olympics.

Even during the construction of new sports facilities, thousands of workers were brought in for construction, including from African countries, but progress has not been to the expected levels.

Another manifestation, ahead of the 2024 Games, was the alleged mass deportation from Paris of emigrants from African and Arab countries. The authorities are accused of carrying out the process in a harsh manner. This approach, according to critics, has disadvantaged many, especially those said to have been forcibly removed.

Observers are apprehensive about discrimination and police brutality in the French capital, amid concern that the crackdown targeting emigrants may return even after the sporting event.

That’s not all. In recent months, the city has seen demonstrations and strikes by farmers, railway workers, rubbish collectors, students and other groups unhappy with government policies, the economy and energy crisis. While police have tried to crack down violently on such demonstrations, protesters have regularly clashed with law enforcement and, judging by statements from labor leaders, are preparing to assert their rights and even strike during the Olympics.

Guest Writer
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