By Euan Cunningham
The organizing committee of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the coordination commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have said that more work still needs to be done to balance the budget for the event and keep it on a sound financial footing.
At a press conference yesterday (August 31) following the latest visit of the IOC’s coordination commission to the French capital, the games’ organizers said cost-cutting will be used wherever practically possible.
With less than two years to go before the games are due to start, the bodies outlined that such cost-cutting and innovative thinking will be required due to the recent sizeable increase in inflation and the subsequent heightened cost of labor and materials over recent months.
Despite this, Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 organizing body, said that infrastructure projects such as the Olympic and Paralympic Village are on track and thanked the IOC for its “flexibility” in this department.
He said: “We have had encouragement from the coordination commission which gives us the confidence we need to maintain a level of ambition to deliver the most ambitious games in memory.
“We have met the budget up until now … we are going to turn over all stones to find efficiency, we will think outside the box, and we will need to get flexible and creative to optimize our costs.
“There is no country left alone by inflation – we need to continue to optimize the different elements linked to the games [in order to meet the budget].”
In late July, the French government confirmed that the games’ budget had increased to €8.3 billion ($8.42 billion) from an initial allocation of €6.8 billion.
The rise in the cost of construction and materials across Europe – partly due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and partly down to the war between Russia and Ukraine – is expected to continue to affect the eventual final games budget.
The organizing committee’s president added that in terms of a financial model, the body “is trying to reinvent the wheel slightly”, and that “we have had to be creative in dealing with different challenges … we are trying to build a model that will be a reference for future Olympic games.”
Estanguet said there was work being done both in terms of securing extra revenue, and also on expenditure, with the deadlines for various aspects of the games – including in sectors such as ticketing and volunteering – in the next couple of weeks.
Tickets are expected to initially go on sale in December this year.
Estanguet said such work is possible due to “a great deal of collaboration” between Paris 2024 and the IOC.
The Paris 2024 president added that, despite the various economic challenges, “we believe in these games’ success …”
The 2024 Paris Olympics will run from July 26 to August 11, with the Paralympic Games to follow between August 28 and September 8.
Speaking after the coordination commission finished its visit, that body’s chair, Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant, said: “It’s very encouraging to see all the great work being done by the team in Paris.
“We are right on track, and excitement is continuing to grow, not only in France but also among thousands of athletes around the world who are competing to qualify for these games. Now, having marked two years until the Olympic Games begin in July, we are fully in the operational delivery phase.”
He too reiterated the message of financial awareness, commenting: “Optimization will remain an important focus for those involved in this project … Flexibility, creativity and close collaboration between all stakeholders will be crucial to identifying and implementing efficiencies."
Some of the cuts which will need to be made are expected to come in the area of transport, it has been suggested, the games’ chief executive, Etienne Thobois, suggested.
He said during the briefing that less games-specific private transport would be created specifically for the event in two years' time, adding that the city’s public transport links are considered strong enough to handle the event.
On this same subject, Estanguet said: “We are talking about adapting some existing systems … one of them will be transport. Because of the level of quality [of the Paris transport system], we can do this.”
Speaking generally about the financial footing of Paris 2024, Thobois added: “In sport, we talk about marginal gains, which we will now use to balance out our budget.
“Our target is to look at all our expenditures, so we can make suggestions and work out how to cut costs.
“When we have visibility over our requirements, we can be precise in our financial forecasts, and then work to make extra savings.
Bloomberg reported in July that in order to deal with soaring event costs, the Paris 2024 organizers are likely to request additional input from top-tier event sponsors such as Orange and BNP Paribas.
Image: Frédéric Bujalkov/Paris 2024