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What we know so far about the audacious Paris Olympics opening ceremony

Organisers have promised something truly spectacular to kick off the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games - from tickets to location, guests to concerts, here's what we know so far about the opening ceremony.

What we know so far about the audacious Paris Olympics opening ceremony
President of the Paris Organising Committee Tony Estanguet by the River Seine - the route of the Games opening ceremony. Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP


The ceremony will be in the French capital, naturally, but unlike most previous Games, it will not take place in the main stadium.

In line with the Paris 2024 organisers’ wish to ‘take the Games into the city’, the opening ceremony will be right in the centre of Paris – on the River Seine.

The event will begin at the Pont d’Austerlitz, close to Jardin des Plantes in the 12th arrondissement.

The ceremony will go from Pont d’Austerlitz to the Eiffel Tower. Map: Google maps

Boats will then travel 6km along the Seine – past some of Paris’s most famous landmarks including Notre-Dame, Île de la Cité and the Louvre – until it reaches the Eiffel Tower in the west of the city.

The lighting of the Olympic flame and the official declaration of the opening of the Games will take place in front of the Eiffel Tower.


The ceremony tales place in the evening on Friday, July 26th, 2024.

The first events of the Games proper take place on Saturday, July 27th, though some qualifying events in football, handball, rugby and archery take place prior to the ceremony.

An artist’s impression of the opening ceremony. Graphic: Paris 2024


As is traditional for opening ceremonies, organisers are keeping the exact details of the event under wraps so that viewers have a surprise on the night.

They will, however, be holding practice events from July 2023, so locals might get a sneak peak.

We do know, however, that it will take the form of a boat parade along the Seine, and will involve 10,000 athletes. There will be 91 boats – one for each national federation – plus another 50 boats for security.

We know that once the parade gets to the Eiffel Tower, a music and cultural event and the formal elements of the ceremony – lighting the flame and declaring the Games open – will take place on the Trocadero, just in front of the Tower.

How can you watch?

Obviously, the ceremony will be screened on TV around the world.

However, if you are in Paris, you might be able to watch in person – in total there will be space for 600,000 spectators along the 6km route. There will also be 80 giant screens along the banks of the river, and the athletes’ boats will have TV cameras on board so viewers will be able to see, and possibly hear from, athletes and delegations.

Spectator areas come in two parts – the lower riverbanks (quais) which will be fitted with seating areas and the upper embankments – where the road runs alongside the river – and bridges, which will be standing areas.

The quais are available for paid-for tickets – most of these have already sold out and only a few of the highest priced tickets (for €1,600 per ticket) are still available.

The standing areas will have 100,000 free tickets – but these must be registered in advance. The organising committee has so far not revealed the process for getting hold of these free tickets.

READ ALSO How to maximise your chances of getting Paris Olympic and Paralympic tickets

Will there be tight security?

Extremely. All big events are potential terror targets, and bringing this opening ceremony out of the stadium and into the city has increased security headaches for the organisers.

A total 35,000 police will be on duty during the opening ceremony and France has also allowed extra security techniques that are not normally permitted in the country, including an expanded CCTV network, security drones and facial recognition technology.

The interior minister says that all police leave is cancelled for June, July and August 2024.

There is also the threat that protesters might try to disrupt the event. 

And the closing ceremony?

This will be a more traditional event, held in Paris’s main stadium – Stade de France – on Sunday, August 11th. Tickets for this are also on sale in phase 2 of the ticket draw.

There will also be an opening and closing ceremony for the Paralympic Games, details of which are yet to be revealed. 

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France angers UN after announcing hijab ban for Olympic athletes

The UN stressed on Tuesday it was opposed to most dress codes for women, after France barred its athletes from wearing the Muslim hijab during the 2024 Paris Olympics.

France angers UN after announcing hijab ban for Olympic athletes

“No-one should impose on a woman what she needs to wear or not wear,” United Nations rights office spokeswoman Marta Hurtado told reporters in Geneva.

Hurtado’s comment came after the French sports minister said the country’s athletes would be barred from wearing headscarves during the Games, in line with the country’s strict rules on secularism.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Does France really have a hijab ban?

French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera repeated on Sunday that the government was opposed to any display of religious symbols during sporting events.

“What does that mean? That means a ban on any type of proselytising. That means absolute neutrality in public services,” she told France 3 television.

“The France team will not wear the headscarf.”

Hurtado did not address France’s stance directly.

But she stressed that the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women ruled out discriminatory practices.

“Any state party to the convention — in this case France — has an obligation to … modify social or cultural patterns which are based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either sexes,” Hurtado said.

“Discriminatory practices against a group can have harmful consequences,” she pointed out.

“That is why … restrictions on expressions of religions or beliefs, such as attire choices, are only acceptable under really specific circumstances,” she explained.

That, she said, meant circumstances “that address legitimate concerns of public safety, public order, or public health or morals in a necessary and proportionate fashion”.

In France, the issue of religious dress goes to the heart of the country’s strict rules on secularism.

These are intended to keep the state neutral in religious matters, while guaranteeing citizens the right to freely practice their religion.

France’s laws prohibit the wearing of “ostentatious” religious symbols in some contexts, such as in state schools and by civil servants.

It outlawed full-face coverings in 2010.

In June, France’s Council of State upheld a ban on women footballers wearing the hijab.