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Olympic chief 'very satisfied' with Paris 2024 Village

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Olympic chief 'very satisfied' with Paris 2024 Village
President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach (L) during a visit to the Paris 2024 Olympic Village. Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP.

Olympic chief Thomas Bach said he was "very satisfied" with the state of preparations for the Olympic Village of the Paris 2024 Summer Games after a visit to the new build north of the French capital on Friday.

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"As an Olympian it's always a great moment to be in an Olympic Village," said Bach, who won Olympic fencing team gold for West Germany in the 1976 Games and now heads the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"Every Olympian will tell you that once the Games are over and he's meeting other Olympic athletes, after one minute at the latest, they will both will speak about the Olympic Village and the experience they made there.

"This is where the heart of the Olympic Games will beat." Bach called the Village, which will house 14,500 athletes and their staff, "really spectacular: it's compact, it's very pragmatic".

"You see not only me but the entire IOC executive board very, very happy and very satisfied with the Village and with the state of preparations," he
said.

The Village covers the equivalent of 70 football pitches and will go on to host 9,000 athletes for the Paralympic Games that follow the July 26-August 11 Olympics before becoming "a part of the surrounding city, for people in Seine-Saint-Denis".

The chief organiser of the 2024 Paris Olympics, Tony Estanguet, said he expected no surprises before completion of the Village in the city's northern surburbs at the end of December with the handover of keys scheduled for early March.

"Les timings are perfectly respected," insisted Estanguet, a three-time Olympic gold medallist for France in canoeing.

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Metro ticket hike 'fair'

Bach batted off criticism by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo who said that, while the Games infrastructure will be ready, "there are two things for which we will not be ready", namely transport and also the problem of homelessness.

"Our partner is the organising committee and there's been no split with them," he said.

In a separate address to media, the head of the Paris region's transport authority, Valerie Pecresse, said almost doubling the price of metro tickets during the Paris Olympics was "fair".

Single tickets will be sold for €4 ($4.37), compared to €2.10 now, and 10-ticket blocks for €32, compared to €16.90 currently.

The cost, Pecresse added, is "not borne" by people living in the Paris region, with the transport chief estimating that additional expense to the authority at €200 million.

"What is shocking? It's the real price. Who wants to pay? The Paris mayor wants to? The Seine-Saint-Denis department? The local organising committee? It's not residents of the Paris region who will pay," said Pecresse.

Looking ahead to France's potential performance on home soil, Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera underlined her "obviously demanding" goal of the country finishing in the top five in the overall medal table.

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"It would be premature to predict a (more precise) rank in the medal table because many uncertainties remain," she added.

France finished eighth at the Tokyo Olympics, delayed a year from 2020 to 2021 because of the Covid pandemic, with 10 golds, 12 silvers and 16 bronzes. It would take a sgnificant leap to get close to the 71-medal haul (20 golds, 28 silvers, 23 bronzes) athletes representing the Russian Olympic Committee achieved to finish fifth in the Japanese capital.

France's largest ever haul of golds was 15 in the 1996 Atlanta Games, as statistics presented Friday indicated that a host country normally multiplied its Olympic titles by "between 1.5 and 2.3 percent".

That offers a glimmer of hope, albeit thanks to a calculator, of France attaining the ambitious medal goal on home soil where an estimated two-thirds of spectators will be French, according to National Olympic Committee head David Lappartient.

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