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the Seine will be the setting for the opening ceremony of the Games, before 600,000 people

the Seine will be the setting for the opening ceremony of the Games, before 600,000 people

The opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games promises to be spectacular, grand and unique. In any case, this is what the images revealed on Monday, December 13 by the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee (OCOG) promise. On July 26, 2024, for the first time in Olympic history, an opening ceremony will take place outside of a stadium. . This is not a surprise: Tony Estanguet, the boss of Paris 2024, had told the World early 2021, revealing that the Seine would be the common thread of the event.

Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed the ambition during the summer, during the Tokyo Olympics. Now we know a little more about the details of the ceremony. The Parisian river will therefore be the open-air theater of the show. Over six kilometers, between the Pont d’Austerlitz and the Pont d’Iéna, 160 boats will parade carrying 10,500 athletes from the approximately 200 delegations participating in the Games, from July 26 to August 11 of 2024.

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At least 600,000 spectators will be able to attend this ceremony; the police and regional prefectures, the inter-ministerial delegation to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Ministry of the Interior, the city of Paris and the Organizing Committee have agreed on the “Feasibility” of the project, explains the latter. We will continue, in the coming weeks, working with the public authorities to optimize this caliber ”, assures the OCOG in a press release.

80 giant screens

In recent months, the logistical and security challenges of an event of this magnitude had resulted in cold sweats on the side of the Ministry of the Interior and caused some friction between the different actors. Some fifty meetings were organized with public authorities during a year, according to Paris 2024, to validate the concept, called “Olympic Seine”, and define the division of responsibilities.

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Artist's impression of the parade down the Seine during the opening ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

In the lower docks of the river, where payment stands will be installed, security will be in charge of the OCOG, as in any Olympic venue; In the high docks, freely accessible and therefore free, it will be the responsibility of the public authorities, which could call on the army to facilitate it. Several filtering points will be established at the entrance of the two perimeters. Their number and location should be determined in 2022.

“We map each square meter of the Seine, a document that we deliver to the working groups”, argues Thierry Reboul, executive director of brands, events and ceremonies of Paris 2024, who had already been in the process of installing an athletics track on the Alexandre-III bridge, in June 2017, during the Olympic days, shortly before obtaining the Paris Games.

Although there will be about 600,000 places to attend this ceremony, that is, “Ten times the Stade de France in Olympic configuration”, Mr. Reboul likes to emphasize: how many of them will be charged? “There will be more tickets than at the Stade de France, and more free places than paying”, he eludes Michaël Aloïsio, Tony Estanguet’s chief of staff. Accuracy is useful when the will of the organizers is “Democratize the opening ceremony of the Games”.

Artist's impression of the opening ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games at the Trocadéro in Paris.

Paris promises that the party will be total for the spectators: 80 giant screens will be placed along the route, entirely with sound, which will allow spectators to follow the passage of the delegations and artistic demonstrations. Unpublished, the ceremony will begin with the parade of athletes, who will thus be able to attend the rest of the show, unlike previous editions. The Olympic flame will be lit after dark in the Trocadéro, opposite the Eiffel Tower, where 120 heads of state and government are expected in the official stands.

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High level of ambition

Then place it in the art display. “We will face a fantastic inheritance, enthusiastic Thierry Reboul, citing, among others, the Notre-Dame cathedral, the Pont-Neuf, the Louvre and Orsay museums, the Tuileries garden. It is not necessary to rebuild a stage like in a stadium, we can concentrate on the artistic part. “

The organizers promise a show: in the water, on bridges, in the air, on fixed and mobile supports. Holograms, a floating symphony orchestra, dancers on the rooftops, drones for certain artistic performances … Paris 2024 wants, during the seven hours of the opening ceremony, to shine in the eyes of the whole world: one billion spectators are expected.

In terms of cost, the management of Paris 2024 is less talkative. The ceremony will be financed with funds, 97% private, from the organizers. However, budgets will need to be redistributed. The bill to open the curtain on the Games will be definitively established at the end of 2022, during the OCOG’s multi-year budget review. The amount should live up to the high level of ambition, but, Paris 2024 notes, “Income from ticket sales will also be more important”.

Artist's impression of the opening ceremony on the Seine of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The Paris 2024 teams will now continue to work with public authorities and river authorities to specify security measures and fine-tune the consequences of the event on the city and the Seine ecosystem, which, on July 26, 2024, will be completely clogged.

The names of the selected artistic teams should be known in the coming months, as will be revealed, in late 2022, the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games (from August 28 to September 8) – it will also take place outside the Stade from France – and the two closing ceremonies.

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