Paris 2024 Olympic Games: 4 arenas, 330,000 spectators… Dive into the urban park of Place de la Concorde

Paris 2024 Olympic Games: 4 arenas, 330,000 spectators… Dive into the urban park of Place de la Concorde
Paris 2024 Olympic Games: 4 arenas, 330,000 spectators… Dive into the urban park of Place de la Concorde

Safety shoes on their feet, helmets on their heads. The protective equipment will soon be replaced by the athletes’ outfits. In sometimes unusual positions, the workers of the “urban park” are using a fine brush to color the final details of the modules on which the skateboard champions of the Paris 2024 Games will slide this summer. This Wednesday evening, we visited the Olympic site at La Concorde (8th arrondissement) in Paris, three weeks before the start of the competition.

Four “Fields of Play”, or play areas, make up this site “in the heart of the city”. Restored on the sidelines of the Olympic Games, the fountains shine and the Obelisk triumphs in the middle of these ephemeral structures. The first one that we discover, to the southeast of the largest Parisian square, has ramps, barriers and stairs in the colors of the Games.

Obstacles inspired by Parisian furniture

“The obstacles are inspired by what you can find in the streets of Paris,” explains Stéphane Larance, skateboard and freestyle BMX sports manager at Paris 2024. For example, a barrier that we saw in Montmartre (18th arrondissement) was reproduced.” It is on these modules that the board professionals will attempt their best tricks to win gold.

Place de la Concorde (8th arrondissement), this Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The final touches of paint are being applied to the street modules. This game board will be reused after the Olympics. LP/Paul Abran

The street plateau had remained confidential until now. A reconnaissance day will allow the athletes to soak up the place, on foot, “to allow them to then reflect on their passage”, indicates the former professional skater. “The one in Tokyo (Japan) was too big, we adapted it.” A playground that promises more speed.

A show is guaranteed from July 27 with the first training sessions. The most skilled with a skateboard will be able to try out modules similar to the Tuileries. “The most gifted will have the opportunity to go on the official course, at the end of the competition.”

The performances promise to be just as spectacular in the bowl (a structure in the shape of a rounded basin) of the neighboring playing area. From the stands, ready to welcome the lucky ticket holders, the view is exceptional. Olympic rings placed on the plateau, the Egyptian column and, in the background, the Eiffel Tower. Behind the stands, a historic candelabra is protected in a wooden crate.

All these installations will be completed by July 14.

To the west, on the Champs-Élysées side, the BMX ramps are installed and are now awaiting their lick of paint (purple, pink, blue and grey) scheduled for the next few days. And next door, in front of the Hôtel de Crillon, the assembly operations for the site that will host 3 x 3 basketball and breakdancing are being completed. “The stands are more inclined, at a height of 13 m,” explains Clarisse Costaz, sports manager for these two disciplines at Paris 2024. Their capacity is 5,800 seats.

Place de la Concorde (8th arrondissement), this Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The 3×3 basketball and breakdance events will be able to take place even in bad weather under this marquee. For skateboarding and BMX, you will have to wait for the downpour to pass or postpone the events. LP/Paul Abran

Above our heads, the immense 42 m diameter marquee supports the speakers, the lighting spots and the central structure on which the cube of four LED screens will be installed. All of these four areas will be finalized on July 14, the National Day and the arrival of the Olympic flame in the City of Lights.

This urban park will be open for 13 days. And even if you don’t have a ticket to attend one of the competition sessions, the site remains accessible, with an entry fee of around 25 euros, bookable on the Paris 2024 application, with a range of cultural and sporting activities around these urban disciplines. “Initiations, dance, demonstrations, graphic art and exhibitions”, reveals Matthieu Colet, director of the site.

“More than 25,000 people are expected there every day”

The concept, similar to “a festival”, is “to propose spending part of the day in the urban park. Between two sessions, the site will live permanently from morning to night”, he continues. More than 25,000 people are expected there each day, for a total of 325,000 to 330,000 over the entire competition. With logistical challenges, such as the transition from 3 x 3 basketball to breakdancing in 36 hours.

Place de la Concorde (8th arrondissement), this Wednesday, July 3, 2024. The historic heritage furniture of the square has been protected by wooden crates. LP/Paul Abran

“The site lives up to our ambitions,” rejoices Pierre Rabadan, Anne Hidalgo’s deputy in charge of the Games. For many months, the Place de la Concorde has been the subject of activations. The rugby village during the World Cup last year, then sports events in its transition to the Olympic Games. It was a major logistical challenge to set up this urban park in a limited time frame while trying to limit the impact on local residents, motorists, hotels and businesses as much as possible.”

Next challenge: the Paralympic Games opening ceremony

Once the Olympics are over, the Place de la Concorde will have 17 days to prepare to host the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games. Another great challenge. Before partially reopening the square to road traffic.

Place de la Concorde (8th arrondissement), this Wednesday, July 3, 2024. As part of the post-Olympic legacy, discussions are underway to find a future for the BMX ramps. LP/Paul Abran

As for the BMX and skateboard platforms, they will be reused. “We already know that the street modules will go to Seine-Saint-Denis, and the BMX structure will be used during the 2027 World Championships,” concludes Aurélie Merle, executive director of sports at Paris 2024. The legacy of the Olympic Games.

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