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Paris 2024: between the whims of athletes and political negotiations, the puzzle of the Olympic sites

Basketball, shooting, handball or even boxing, all these sports are currently awaiting the allocation of an official site for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Between the whims of certain athletes, the firmness of the Parisian organization and political negotiations, the allocation of these sites is a real headache.

A little less than two years after changing the map of the competition sites, the organizers of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are once again racking their brains to relocate basketball, but also perhaps shooting and boxing, at the risk of making unhappy.

After the reshuffle carried out in September 2020 to save money, which saw swimming move from Saint-Denis (a suburban town north of Paris), to the west of the capital (in Nanterre), climbing land in Bourget (north of Paris) and the hand in Villeneuve-d’Ascq (near Lille, in the north of France), it was not planned to retouch the card again.

It was without counting on the stars of the French basketball team playing in the NBA, unhappy to have to play in a hall of the Parc des Expos de Versailles, for the group stage. A bad buzz on Twitter, guided by the International Basketball Federation according to several observers, led the Olympic Games Organizing Committee (Cojo) to abandon the site.

Since then, there have been all-out consultations. Between the international federation, the IOC, the town hall of Paris, the Cojo… “The equation is not simple”, we explain everywhere. The town hall of Paris, host city of the Olympic Games, which has its say, would like to keep basketball in Paris. “Far from Paris, this increases the carbon footprint…”slips an elected official.

Basketball in the North, handball in Paris?

Last option put on the table, and which is not yet validated, an exchange with handball which must evolve in Villeneuve-d’Ascq. This one would play instead of basketball at the Parc des Expos de Versailles and would return for the finals in the North because basketball will remain at Bercy for its finals.

Wednesday before the association of international federations of summer Olympic sports (ASOIF) in Lausanne, this option was the subject of muscular exchanges. By evoking solutions “three hours from Paris” which were not suitable, everyone understood that the secretary general of the international basketball federation, Andreas Zagklis, was talking about the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, stronghold of the Lille football club.

Response from Tony Estanguet, President of the Organizing Committee: “Everyone wants to play in the center of Paris, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower”. The whim of the basketball players sometimes went badly at the Cojo. The solution “must be acceptable to you but also to all stakeholders and public opinion”tackled the triple Olympic champion.

He again brandished “budget limits” and the need “to optimize”. In the midst of a period of inflation, the Cojo’s budget, whose expenses and revenues will be scrutinized this year, risks experiencing upheavals.

For basketball, meetings are to take place next week, the objective being to decide by the Cojo’s executive office on June 23. Another explosive equation: the site of the shooting events at La Courneuve (north of Paris, in Seine-Saint-Denis).

Located on the ground of Essences, a former army ground being cleared, it is now in the balance because it would not be ready in time. The question is politically sensitive because it is once again Seine-Saint-Denis which would bear the brunt of a change.

And more particularly the area around Le Bourget, which has seen appeals stop the construction of the media village, new metro stations not arriving in time and which now risks seeing the shooting tests fly away.

A shootout for boxing?

The Cojo, which is eyeing the national center of Châteauroux, some 270 km south of Paris, returned there again last weekend. “It is no longer the technical aspect that will play but the political aspect”explained to AFP Michel Baczyck, president of the French Shooting Federation.

The communities of Indre are rather excited at the idea of ​​​​hosting the Olympics and are already looking to buy a site belonging to the Chinese in order to meet the need for housing offers.

But if Seine-Saint-Denis loses the shot, it could perhaps recover … boxing, for the moment planned on the Suzanne Lenglen court at Roland-Garros, which will benefit from a removable roof by 2024 .

The temperature and noise conditions there are currently being studied. Two years from the event, the organizers are getting into the tough, on all fronts. “It’s going to be a fight (…), the feds will ask for things, the communities too, the mayor of Paris…”, predicts an observer.

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Paris 2024: basketball players still looking for a base for the Olympic Games

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