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22 Jul, 2022 14:50

Inflation fuels Paris Olympics funding fears – media

The budget for the next edition of the Olympics has been affected by rising costs
Inflation fuels Paris Olympics funding fears – media

Funding fears have emerged for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games with its estimated construction budget already having risen to €4 billion ($4.01 billion), according to the AFP. 

Controlling the budget was proving to be a problem before the pandemic but has not been helped by rampant inflation in recent times.

Organizers had announced €400 million ($401 million) in cuts from a budget that was estimated at €3.8 billion ($3.9 billion) in September 2020 while blaming Covid-19.

Last summer, however, the company that has been set up to oversee the construction of the venues needed to host the Games and other permanent infrastructures such as bridges and motorways –  the Societe de Livraison des Ouvrages Olympiques (Solideo) – increased its budget estimate to €4 billion ($4.01 billion).

"They are very tense in terms of the budget," a source close to the organizers explained to the AFP.

To bring in income, tickets don't go on sale until December and the Paris Olympic Organizing Committee (COJO) has not yet managed to fill all its last major sponsorship slots, though there are hopes that French luxury goods giant LVMH will jump onboard up

Though they were previously worried about supply chain issues, Soleido now has inflation at the top of its concerns and the matter of who will foot the extra costs.

Of the budget, €1.55 billion ($1.6 billion) will come from the public purse, but it is now thought that the French state will have to provide financial guarantees in tough times when overspending risks public backlash as seen in the build-up to other editions of the Games.

Given the debacle that occurred at the Champions League final at the Stade de France in May, security concerns are also a prominent feature of Paris 2024's backdrop.

A fact-finding mission from two French senators recently found that organizers were to blame for the chaos that saw police tear-gas football fans, many of whom were later the target of robberies from armed gangs in the Saint-Denis suburb of the French capital. 

A government source told the AFP the disastrous sequence of events at the UEFA spectacle would stick to organizers "like a plaster up to the Olympic Games."

And now with 13 million visitors expected to descend on Paris, anxiety levels over the huge security operation the 2024 Olympics will require are rising alongside the budget.

"We are not ready at all," confessed the government source, with specific regard to the opening ceremony expected to be enjoyed by up to 600,000 people on the river Seine.

"If a drone drops grenades onto the crowds below we do not know how we will neutralize them," it was added. "It is the magnitude of the crowds spread out over six kilometers of the banks of the Seine which is the problem."

Also problematic is a dispute between the police and the organizing committee.

While the organizing committee wants spectators to line the entirety of the river that 180 boats with teams on them will head down, the police want everyone attending issued with a ticket.

"This is a clash of two contrasting philosophies," pointed out a separate source from Paris 2024 to the AFP.

Furthermore, it is said that nearly 7,000 officers will be needed for the ceremony which is all but impossible as private security firms also can't fill spaces given they too are falling short of hiring the necessary 24,000 staff it is believed the Games require.

"We do not have the numbers," confessed organizing committee member Bernard Thibault to the AFP in spring. 

"It is plain and simple," a highly-placed police source also told the same outlet.

"The 24,000 agents required for the Games do not exist, and never will. The army will be called on to do the job," he revealed. 

Amid budget and security fears, the Paris Olympic Games will be held from July 26 to August 11, 2024. 

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