(Paris) Boat maneuvers to prepare for the opening ceremony, the first heads taken in the Seine, archers on the Place des Invalides…: the Paris Olympics will spend the summer of 2023 in rehearsal mode to prepare for the Olympic and Paralympic summer of 2024.
Traditionally, each host city of the Olympics tests its new equipment and competition venues a few months before.
“Summer 2023 will be busy,” summed up early June Pierre-Olivier Beckers, member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visiting Paris for a progress report with the organizers. These summer rehearsals will be used to learn “lessons” and make “adjustments to approach the Olympics with confidence”, he explained.
First life-size test: an international sailing event in Marseille, from July 9 to 16, enough to test the site, the wind, safety on and at the water’s edge.
At the beginning of August, Paris will take over: the first open water swimmers will put on their wetsuits and set off in the Seine for a marathon swimming World Cup round, from Pont Alexandre III. They will thus “taste” the water of the river, promised to be swimming after the Olympics in about twenty sites in the Paris region.
In early June, the Paris City Hall assured that the water quality was “excellent”, giving the green light to these open water swimming events which will also be followed by a triathlon and paratriathlon competition in mid-August. The town hall will also test its “command center” located at the town hall.
It will also be an opportunity to test the weather conditions as the summers get warmer, with ever more heat waves – Paris has just experienced its hottest June since records began at the end of the 19th century.
For its part, the French Agency for the Fight against Doping (AFLD), charged by the organizing committee of the operational program, will refine the logistics.
Another test, still on the Seine, mid-July, that of the opening ceremony. But beware, warn the organizing committee and the authorities in chorus, “this is in no way a rehearsal”, but simply to maneuver the boats.
Because, on July 26, 2024, it will be a “one shot”, and there is no question of revealing the artistic aspects imagined by the theater director Thomas Jolly. The show’s “intent sketches” circulate among only a few people and the secret is well kept.
In any case, the challenge of making more than 115 boats sail with the athletes over 6 km between the Pont d’Austerlitz and the Pont d’Iena remains daunting. It will of course be necessary to secure, but also to film this ceremony, promised to a billion viewers.
To sharpen its plans and its filming, the company OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) was authorized in mid-June to fly planes and helicopters for a few hours a day, above the Olympic sites, but also monuments such as the Sacred Heart or Notre-Dame, according to the indications of the police headquarters.
It will also be necessary to try technical configurations, such as switching from tennis to boxing at Roland-Garros since the Olympic finals will be held there. Similarly, the halls of the Parc des expositions de Paris will be in tune with handball, table tennis… and the Grand Palais with fencing and taekwondo.
On the Place de la Concorde side, which will host urban sports, as well as the Paralympic opening ceremony at the end of August 2024, there will be an “operational test” on flow and layout. Note that a “rugby village” will be set up there for the 2023 World Cup (September 8-October 28). Nearly 40,000 people will be expected there, Paris police chief Laurent Nunez told AFP on the sidelines of the Top 14 final.
The few facilities that are built for the Olympics such as the Olympic Aquatic Center (OAC) in Saint-Denis or the Arena La Chapelle will be tested in 2024, when they are completed.