Looking to cut costs in a tough economy, organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics said Wednesday they want officials to use fewer courtesy cars and take more trips on public transport.
Paris organizers want to use even fewer cars and buses than at the Tokyo Olympics last year, where the number of workers and guests was much lower than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So officials who might have used dedicated Olympic traffic lanes at past games may instead be riding Paris Metro subway trains in two years’ time.
“Thanks to the IOC and the pooling of a certain number of vehicle fleets we are going to drop the number of vehicles by 30% to 40% as opposed to the last games,” organizing committee chief executive Etienne Thobois said in translated comments at a news conference following a visit to Paris by an International Olympic Committee oversight team..
The three-day inspection of Olympic planning was made while inflation in France is running above 6% and putting stress on the overall games budget of more than 8 billion euros ($8.05 billion).
“I obviously am not naïve, I know that the world has changed,” said Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant, the IOC member leading its inspection team. “There has been no country that’s been left unscathed if we think about inflation.”
Beckers-Vieujant said the IOC wants to be open-minded when helping Paris officials find “optimizations,” using the word that often stands for cost-cutting in Olympic language.
“In the past, the transport system was built mainly in a specially dedicated system with stakeholders, at the request of the Olympic family,” he said. “Today there is a great deal of flexibility to allow Paris to use, as best it can, public transport and pool transport systems.”
The IOC is giving Paris organizers about 1.6 billion euros ($1.6 billion) from its broadcasting and sponsor revenues toward running the Summer Games, which typically overshoot the initial budget estimates made when bidding for the games.
Paris won its hosting rights in 2017 — edging Los Angeles which got the 2028 Olympics in a rare double decision — and has been hit by supply chain issues during the pandemic then rising fuel and food prices because of the Russian war in Ukraine.
Organizing committee president Tony Estanguet said each of his departments was asked to suggest more savings in the coming weeks to help draft more precise financial forecasts.
Another goal could be shorter rentals of buildings ahead of the July 26-Aug. 11 Olympics and deciding which training venues don’t need to open as soon as athletes arrive at their village accommodation, Thobois said.
Despite the financial challenges, overall planning was praised by Beckers-Vieujant, who said: “We were blown away by the level of accuracy, the precision and the state of preparation for these games.”