The Paris 2024 Games will leave an indelible mark on Paris and on the French people. Find out here how we envision the Games’ legacy.
The magic of the Olympic and Paralympic Games can be glimpsed in the shining eyes of the athletes. For a city, a region, or a country, this magic can also be gauged by its direct and indirect effects. In their modern incarnation, the Games have the unique ability to effect social change, to spur economic growth, and to enhance the environment. Their impact frequently exceeds expectations. Their legacy is often lasting and profound. Should the Games be awarded to Paris, there would be a before and an after 2024 for the city, for the Ile-de-France region and for the rest of the country. France would be transformed forever. The country would become stronger.
The impact of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is primarily economic.
This impact is indisputable, proven by past experience and verified by studies and analyses. Before the London Games in 2012, the British had estimated that the economic impact of the Games on the national economy would amount to 11 billion pounds, which they hoped to attain within 4 years. It was achieved in only 11 months. Ultimately, the Games weighed in at 14.2 billion pounds in the UK’s national accounts. One particularly significant figure in terms of the impact of the Olympics on the host country is the 4.72 billion pounds in foreign investment raised in the UK after the Games, of which 55% was directed outside of London. This shows how the Games can constitute a remarkable growth accelerator in the short, medium and even long term.
The economic impact can also be measured in terms of jobs created. In the UK, the economic activity generated directly or indirectly by the Games will assist in the creation of between 618,000 and 893,000 jobs by 2020, depending on the estimate. Note that this surge in employment extends well beyond the event itself, and as such is truly a legacy.
In devising its Olympic ground plan, Paris 2024 elected to establish some of the critical facilities (Olympic and Media Villages, aquatic centre) in the Seine-Saint-Denis department. This area has a large population base characterised in particular by a high proportion of youth aged 18 to 25, who are often cut off from employment opportunities. Hosting the 2024 Games would represent a breath of fresh air for this department and its residents. This type of event can potentially impact many economic sectors, such as construction, energy, new technologies, logistics, hospitality, etc., and involve several tens of thousands of contractors in the organisation and operation of the Games.
The impact of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is also social.
The event can effect changes in social habits and behaviours. It can affect a society’s vitality, culture and worldview. The phenomenon is not new, and it is becoming more pronounced. The impact and legacy of the Games are visible in education, health, the practice of sports, accessibility, and civic engagement – before, during, and after the event.
Seven years pass between a city’s selection by the IOC and the beginning of the Games. Attaining the age of reason, some would say. More particularly, it’s a time to build stronger relationships between the Ministries of Education and of Youth and Sports, the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF), and the sports federations, and a time to initiate innovative programmes aimed at children and youth. Among the projects already identified by the Paris 2024 team and its partners, let us mention a national programme of civic education through Olympic values, a national competition in French schools revolving around Olympic culture, and a national plan to promote Olympic values during Olympic days and in school sports, where youth competitions and large sporting events will be organised throughout France.
In terms of community involvement, which is traditionally strong in France, hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games should spur a large increase in volunteering.
Games and volunteering
At the Sydney Games in 2000, 50,000 people volunteered, unprecedented in the country’s history.
In Sochi in 2014, the Winter Games contributed to familiarising the Russian population with the notion of volunteering, as it has not been a customary part of Russian community life.
In Rio, no fewer than 70,000 volunteers have been recruited by the organising committee for the 2016 Games.
The Paris 2024 team has put forward two projects. The first aims at developing youth civic engagement by incorporating such engagement in school and university curricula as a proper subject matter and teaching it through both theoretical and practical applications. The second endeavours to inspire the Paris 2024 volunteers to carry on with the adventure after the Games by becoming involved in a sports club or sports federation. The volunteers’ training programme would thus include a section addressing the goals and workings of a sports club.
Another impact of the Games on society is reflected in the increase in the practice of sports. Above all, the Games remain a celebration of sports, physical exertion and competition. Media coverage, before and during the event, contributes to promoting the positive health effects of sports, both in terms of prevention and treatment. The Sentez-vous sport (‘Are you feeling sports’) campaign launched by the CNOSF in 2010 should reinforce this trend, as it seeks to encourage the French to regularly engage in physical activity.
Finally, one of the major issues in organising the Olympics is the accessibility of sporting facilities. France can take advantage of the event to catch up in this crucial area. Seven years of preparation time should allow the country to upgrade the accessibility of its transportation system, its sporting facilities, and its cultural edifices. Later on, the two weeks of the Paralympic Games would undoubtedly contribute to changing social attitudes toward persons with an impairment. Past experience has shown that the perception of impairment changes dramatically following the Paralympic Games. The Paris 2024 team has fully taken stock of this and has already envisioned a vast programme of sporting and cultural events on the theme of ‘Live together, play together’, combining sports and theatre, involving all members of our society.
Finally, the Olympic and Paralympic Games also have an environmental impact.
There is no doubt that the Games leave permanent traces wherever they go.
The environmental legacy of the Games
In 1992, in Barcelona, they facilitated the development of the seafront, which opened up the city to the water.
In Sydney, in 2000, they contributed to the creation of a new recreational, living and work space, Homebush, where 130 firms employing 12,000 people are now located.
In 2012, in London, they helped develop and revitalise a whole neighbourhood, East London, which now houses the largest shopping centre in Europe.
In Paris, in 2024, the Olympic and Paralympic Games would fit right into Greater Paris, the regional development plan for Ile-de-France. They would accelerate the development process, in particular with respect to transportation, providing residents with a more dense and modern transportation network by the spring of 2024. They would visibly and lastingly transform the Seine-Saint-Denis region, which is one of the youngest and most diverse in France. By choosing to build the aquatics centre and the Olympic and Media Villages there, the Paris 2024 team has bet on furthering its transformation.
The Saint-Denis and Pleyel neighbourhoods will be modernised. The Olympic Village’s 17,000 beds and the Media Village’s 4,000 beds would represent one of the more tangible impacts of the Games. In total, at least 5,000 new housing units will be built and eventually serve the local population in an area where housing supply rarely meets demand. Further south, in Paris itself, the Seine River will be cleaned up in view of accommodating the Olympic triathlon, where racers would take off from the Eiffel Tower for the swimming leg. ‘In 2024, the Games will put Paris on the Seine [scene]’, promised the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo. A clever phrase for an extraordinary project.