Paris 2024 Olympic Games: Inclusivity, Accessibility & Equity

Interview with Alexandre Mars, a French entrepreneur and member of the board of organising committee of Paris 2024 Olympic Games
/ New Delhi
Right from the outset, the organising committee of the Olympic Games 2024 to be held in Paris has set inclusivity and accessibility as key benchmarks for the Paris 2024 Games. In an interview, Alexandre Mars, a French entrepreneur and member of the board of organising committee of Paris 2024 Olympic Games, who is also the Ambassador of the Games, tells India Outbound about how the Games would be inclusive and the legacy that they would leave behind.
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What is your role as Board Member and Ambassador of Paris 2024?

Alexandre Mars

Before becoming a Board Member and Ambassador of Paris 2024, I was President of the Sports & Society committee during the bid to win the Games. Convinced that there is a deep link between the practice of sports and important values such as solidarity, sharing or education, I contacted Tony Estanguet and Bernard Lapasset, the two co-presidents of Paris 2024. I supported the following idea: Paris would only win the competition based on the social impact of sport and highlighting the power of the Games in the face of environmental and social challenges.

During the bid, under the leadership of Marie Barsacq, the Director of Impact and Legacy, and the 30 members of the committee, we explored themes such as the impact of the Games on gender equality, the links between sport and education, sport and disability, and athletes’ professional transition at the end of their career.

As one of the Board Members, I now take part in the decisions and follow their implementation. To illustrate my implication, I was one of the initiators of the new project we just launched of a charitable ticketing scheme. I really appreciated getting involved with the Paris 2024 team on this project and I am so proud to see it come to life! On another level, I am also using my voice in the media and through social media to convey Paris 2024’s messages.

How do you intend to make the Games inclusive and accessible? How are these Games different from other Olympics?

Paris 2024 has made strong commitments to make the Games inclusive and accessible. While respecting the unique identity of each event, we have the same commitment for the Olympic and Paralympic Games: for the first time in history, there is a single emblem for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, a single slogan Games Wide Open, and a united French team.

The Paris 2024 Games will offer a unique showcase for Paralympic athletes and sports with stunning competition sites such as Grand Palais (wheelchair fencing and Para taekwondo); Invalides (Para archery); Château de Versailles (Para equestrian), an unprecedented media coverage in the host country: France TV, domestic broadcaster of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, has committed to more than 300 hours of broadcasting of the events and an exceptional opening ceremony.

The Games will also amplify the transformative dynamics of the Paralympic Games by changing the way people look at disability through the power of sports.

Also, the Paris 2024 ticketing policy reflects our desire to make this event popular and accessible to all, with 13 million tickets on sale, entry price of EUR 24 for all Olympic sports, half of all the tickets to be sold for EUR 50 or less. Paris 2024 will itself finance more than 100,000 tickets for priority audiences and a charitable ticketing scheme to allow beneficiaries of the Secours Populaire to attend the Games.

What is the significance of the charitable ticketing scheme in partnership with the Secours Populaire?

Paris 2024 has launched a unique charitable ticketing scheme in partnership with the Secours Populaire, a French charity that has close links with sports and experience of charitable ticketing programmes over many years. It’s a first in the history of the Games and it’s never been done for an event this big before.

Everyone who buys tickets for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games will have the opportunity to donate EUR 2 to enable children, young people, families and isolated people living in low-income households to experience the Games for themselves in 2024. It will operate during every phase of the public ticketing programme.

Through this project, we wanted to enable the public to show their solidarity and embrace Paris 2024’s DNA. Moreover, it is one of the ways in which our slogan, Games Wide Open, is embodied.

How will you identify and distribute 100,000 free tickets? Are they meant for the French or can anyone get them?

Aside from the charitable ticketing scheme, the Paris 2024 Games ticketing programme reflects the ambition to make the Games open and accessible to as many people as possible.

In this context, Paris 2024 will itself finance more than 100,000 tickets, to the tune of approximately EUR 2 million, that will be given to priority audiences through the main communities hosting events. These tickets will be offered to people with disabilities; to people in precarious situations or excluded from society; to young people and school groups from priority education networks; to young people who are members of the sports movement; to people from Priority Urban Neighbourhoods and Rural Revitalisation Zones, as well as volunteers and beneficiaries of Impact 2024 label projects.

Should Olympic Games be made accessible to deserving athletes to be able to participate, by providing them higher standards of training and facilities that most athletes in poor countries struggle to find?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a non-profit organisation, dedicated to using the revenue generated from the Olympic Games to assist athletes and developing sports worldwide. As a result, every day the IOC distributes about USD 4.2 million around the world to help athletes and sporting organisations.

Because the IOC is a non-profit organisation, 90 pc of the revenues from the Games go straight back into sports and athlete development. A substantial portion of the profits from the Games is allocated through the National Olympic Committees directly to helping athletes and coaches from countries with the greatest financial need, as part of the Olympic Solidarity programme. This is particularly vital in the modern sporting world, in which talent and determination alone are not enough to reach the top. High-level coaching, preparation and the ability to travel to competitions are also required.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a major event that accelerate everything for the host country

Because of this, as part of the latest Olympic Solidarity Plan, which runs from 2021 to 2024, USD 590 million, an increase of 16 pc on the previous 4-year plan, is being spent on various world and continental programmes going, among others, towards athlete development, training of coaches and sports administrators, and Olympic values education to make the Olympic Games more accessible across the globe.

Part of this money is used to fund the Olympic scholarship programmes, which provide athletes in need with a monthly training grant as well as travel subsidies to compete in Olympic qualification competitions and expert coaching.

What is the legacy that you would like to leave behind?

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a major event that accelerate everything for the host country. The Games will shake us up, in an irresistibly positive way.

The Paris 2024 Games will be an ambitious and spectacular celebration that champions economic, social and environmental responsibility. In response to society’s current challenges, Paris 2024 positioned legacy and sustainability at the heart of its project from the bidding phase in order to set new standards. The aim is to deliver Games that benefit the host regions, open up opportunities for local businesses, have half the carbon footprint of previous editions, embrace circular economy principles, increase the reach of sport in people’s lives, and promote education, engagement, inclusion, equality and the environmental transformation through sport.

Living the Games is not just about competing in them. If we embarked on the adventure, it was with the conviction that they would be even greater than in the past. For each participant, each spectator, each viewer, these Games open to the world will be a source of joy and inspiration in the long term.

As Tony Estanguet likes to say: ‘‘Our goal is to have an impact. Of course, these Games will be magical. We will do everything to make them unique. But that is not enough, we want to use these years before the Games to develop the place of sport. The material heritage, the infrastructures, it is good, but it is not the finality. The purpose is to make the French people move. It is the human factor that will make the difference.”

Material legacy:

Paris 2024 is relying on 95 pc of existing infrastructures such as Stade de France, Invalides, Champs de Mars, Marina de Marseille, and is building only two infrastructures which will remain after the Games viz the Olympic Aquatic Centre and the Athletes’ Village. The intangible legacy will be to put sports into the daily life of French people to fight against a sedentary lifestyle and the creation of an Endowment Fund dedicated to sport.

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