Wherever the Olympics take place, they often spark a lively social debate. As the world turns its gaze to Paris, it is an ideal moment for companies and organisations in the private sector to step forward and play a part in resolving critical issues - from tackling transportation challenges to ensuring security and fostering social inclusion.
The chosen slogan for Paris 2024 is “Ouvrons Grand les Jeux”, a wordplay on the phrase “eyes wide open”. A timely choice, since the preparations have been a real eye-opener on burning national issues.
Paris has launched an array of urban projects to make sure the city looks its best, with the logistics needing to operate as smoothly as possible. Stéphane Peu, a Communist MP for the Seine-Saint-Denis, where most of the games will be hosted, expressed concern on radio station France Inter. Peu stated that while infrastructure is ready, transportation still falls short.
Saying public transportation is not quite ready is truly an understatement. Paris has notoriously been grappling with public transportation challenges, including overcrowded metros and delays. Just a few months ago, in the city of Bordeaux, Irish rugby supporters shared their difficult attempts to get to the stadium for the Ireland vs. Romania match.
Security improvements are also very much needed. Last year, scenes of chaos unfolded all around the Stade de France, spoiling the Champions League final. The match between Real Madrid and Liverpool was almost overshadowed by the nearby disturbances, delaying the kickoff by more than 30 minutes.
Across the country, anger over the pensions reform has dampened the enthusiasm of many, who see the games primarily as a money-making opportunity for a privileged few. High ticket prices have left many feeling excluded from what should have been a chance to see world-class athletes compete and experience the Olympics at home. “In a tense social climate, and with the world’s eyes upon us, we need to foster more enthusiasm among all French workers, who will be essential participants in the Olympics”, Stéphane Peu added.
In 1992, the Barcelona Olympics transformed the city into a modern and sustainable metropolis, showing how hosting the Games can bring positive and lasting changes. But what can we expect for Paris?