Eleven years after their last unsuccessful bid, the French capital is putting its money where its mouth is by betting on Paris to be the host city of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games
There’s no doubting the prestige of hosting the Olympic Games – whether summer or winter – but the cost of all of this is sometimes too much for cities to stomach.
Paris tried twice in recent years to host the summer games but were cruelly pipped at the post by the decidedly under-prepared but evidently more convincing London delegation.
In the meantime, attempts to stage the 2018 winter games in Annecy also ended in failure, with the serene Alpine town finishing well behind the Korean winning city of Pyeong Chang.
But Paris – under a new mayor (Anne Hidalgo) – must feel as if the wind will be in their sails this time around and on Tuesday night, they officially launched the logo for the Olympics bid in grand style, illuminated on the Arc de Triomphe.
The design is instantly recognisable as a representation of another famous Parisian landmark – the Eiffel Tower. Conceived by publicists Dragon Rouge, the colourful image cleverly incorporates the digits 2 and 4. The significant number 24 evokes the date 2024 but also serves to remind that the last time Paris hosted the Summer Olympics was in 1924.
“The initial idea was to create a rallying symbol; a collective movement to rally and mobilise the whole of the French nation.” So say the people at Dragon Rouge, who have certainly come up with a more elegant symbol than the clunky-looking half-chewed swastika that ended up being the London Olympics logo.
How successful their bid will be is another story. These are trying times for all sports – an era that those who would have been involved in the Olympics 100 years ago could scarcely have dared imagine in their worst nightmares. Long gone are any notions of participation and brotherhood. It’s all about winning and for each individual sportsman and sports official, it seems that gaining as much personal wealth as possible is what it’s all about.
After Montreal lost its shirt from staging the 1976 Olympics, Los Angeles showed how to do it and still keep your shirt on – by corruption: just sell branding rights to all-comers, even if they’re companies that produce poisonous carcinogenic drinks or worthless unhealthy food.But now, it seems that fewer and fewer cities are keen to put their money where their mouths are. Is it a result of increasingly strange and brown-envelope-influenced decision-making or is it that in this world of multi-billion-euro sports business, the stakes are just too rich for most?
Following the lead of Krakov, Saint-Moritz and Munich, even oil-rich Oslo has pulled out of trying to land the 2022 winter Olympics, leaving just two cities to battle it out for the honour of hosting – Beijing and Almaty (Kazakhstan).
The problem with attempting to host the Olympic Games is that history has shown that the budget allocated for the candidature always ends up being three or four times the sum that a city starts out with. History also shows (and the case of London was no exception) that the city with the biggest budget wins.
If you manage to land the deal in the end, you have to host the bloody thing and that cost runs into the billions. In the case of Sochi in Russia, their Winter Olympics event last year cost over $50 billion.
It’s a bidding war that becomes a huge gamble that the citizens of a city usually end up paying for in the form of higher local taxes. Paris has fired its first shots in this particular bidding war. Logic might suggest that they will be successful on this occasion but only time will tell…