Paris on track for 2024 Olympics, says mayor

Paris is on time and on budget for the 2024 Olympics, the city's mayor said on Tuesday, dismissing concern expressed recently by a senior Olympics official.

Paris on track for 2024 Olympics, says mayor
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (on the left) poses with French ministers and head of the Paris Olympics Organising Committee after signing the protocol for the opening ceremony on May 23rd (Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP)

“Look at all the previous Olympics and Paralympics around the world, one year before the Games, generally it’s stressful and people are saying ‘we’ll never manage this’. Well, we’re ready,” mayor Anne Hidalgo told the France Inter radio station on Tuesday.

“We’re on budget and we’re on time.”

During a visit to Paris on Monday, International Olympic Committee (IOC) official Pierre-Olivier Beckers, who is responsible for monitoring the Paris Games, voiced concern about the work needed to balance the budget.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: How accessible is Paris for people with disabilities?

French authorities chipped in another €111 million last December to take into account inflation, taking the overall budget to €4.48 billion.

Delays in signing major sponsorship deals, including with French luxury goods giant LVMH, has also left a major question mark about the finances of the event.

“There is still plenty of work to do,” Beckers told reporters.

A provisional report from the French national auditor, revealed by Le Monde newspaper on Monday, said that “substantial  uncertainties remain, notably for domestic partnerships.”

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

The Games have also become embroiled in a row over ticket pricing, with the high cost of attending many events leading to criticism of organisers amid a cost-of-living crisis in France.

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French politics are clouding Olympics, says Paris mayor

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has said that the prospect of France's far-right winning power in parliamentary elections at the end of the month was causing doubt and worry in the run-up to the Olympics in the French capital.

French politics are clouding Olympics, says Paris mayor

“I’m receiving many, many questions from French people, from Parisians, from people overseas who are worried about the situation in France,” Hidalgo told reporters.

France had embodied the values of universal human rights through its history “which are very far from those successfully spread by the far-right in our country”, she added.

The country goes to the polls on June 30 and July 7 – less than a month before the start of the Paris Games – under snap elections called by President Emmanuel Macron, to widespread surprise.

The far-right, anti-immigration Rassemblement National party of Marine Le Pen is currently leading in the polls, but analysts warn that projecting how many seats it will win in the new National Assembly remains extremely difficult.

“Yes, the far-right is at the gates of power and it carries with it hate and chaos,” Hidalgo said, before seeking to reassure listeners that Paris – where the far-right records its weakest scores – would remain a ‘rampart’.

“I want to say to all our friends overseas who are asking themselves questions, who are worrying about what’s happening in France, I say ‘Come, this is a place that will continue to live by the values of democracy and liberty’,” she said.

She joined widespread criticism of Macron for calling the polls on the eve of the Games, which begin on July 26.

“The president could have given the country a bit of space and attention by acknowledging that the Games could be a nice interlude which would give energy, confidence and hope to a lot of our citizens,” Hidalgo said.

“It’s his decision, he has the right and he will carry the responsibility,” she added.

She also announced a new date for her planned swim in the Seine, which has been cleaned up in preparation for the Games.

The river is set to host the swimming leg of the triathlon and the open-water swimming event – but it is still regularly failing pollution tests due to heavy rainfall in the capital.

Hidalgo said she would take to the water in the week of July 15th, after the second round of elections.