'Paris 2024 will be the greenest Olympics ever organized' - France Consulate General Thierry Berthelot ahead of marquee event

Mr. Thierry Berthelot, Consulate General of France in Bangalore, addressing students at CMS B-School in the city (Picture Credits: X/Consulate General of France in Bangalore).
Mr. Thierry Berthelot, Consulate General of France in Bangalore, addressing students at CMS B-School in the city (Picture Credits: X/Consulate General of France in Bangalore).

There's nothing quite like the buzz and thrill that comes with the build-up to the Olympics. It is an apt reflection of the history, tradition and culture of this event that are a true celebration of sport that binds the world together.

The 33rd edition of the Summer Olympics is scheduled to run from July 26, 2024 and conclude on August 11 with Paris set to host majority of the competitions even as certain events will be staged in a few other cities. This also marks the third instance of Paris hosting the Summer Olympics and the first since 1924 as France gears up to welcome the event after a century.

Preparations have been in full swing in the country with the budget for the Games recorded at €4.4 billion. The monstrosity of that figure was confirmed by Mr. Thierry Berthelot, the French Consulate General, as he addressed a seminar, organized by MBA-ESG, India, at the CMS B-School, Bengaluru a few days ago.

What's even more mindboggling is the fact that 96 percent of that budget stems purely from the private sector, with a host of investors taking keen interest in the Paris Olympics.

Considering that some of the years leading into the Games have also coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers have bumped into certain challenges along the way.

Mr. Berthelot opened up on the same and the steps taken to ensure that the Paris Olympics would go ahead as per schedule in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda.

"I think for us, yes, it is a huge challenge but at the same time it is a very exciting challenge and a great opportunity to showcase our country as a very innovative country, a country that is taking into account the challenge but also the opportunities of this 21st century. I would like to mention the fact that of course our country is striving to get all the infrastructures ready for the Olympics. That includes first the accommodations for the athletes and all the teams around them as well as of course all the French and foreign journalists and media people that will be working around the Olympics. And for us it is very important that we make sure that we will be able to welcome all those people and accommodate them in good conditions and also to make sure they have a good feeling when they will be visiting our country," said Mr. Berthelot.
"So I think it will be ready on time and there are people working over the weekends, days and nights and all the equipment will be ready. This is also of course for the sports infrastructures like stadiums, swimming pools, running fields and all the equipment you can imagine for various sports," Mr. Berthelot elaborated further.

Throwing light on the transport facilities that have been put into place keeping the Games in mind, Mr. Berthelot declared that the upcoming event would be the greenest Olympics seen till date. He reiterated the same while drawing upon the transport system of the country and the steps taken to increase faster connectivity via rail, all while ensuring reduced levels of carbon footprints.

"The second important thing is also the transport system but we are not starting from scratch. France is a great country already well equipped with a public transport system. We already have a very sophisticated transport system in Paris with a lot of lines. The Olympics gave the opportunity to develop this transport system with new stations and new lines but we also already have the special TGV speed train that has been in existence for many years."

He added:

"It has been improved in recent years and many big cities in France are already well connected with Paris but also between other cities and this gives the opportunity for our foreign guests, foreign tourists, Indian guests to travel easily, quickly and with a reduced carbon footprint. You don't need to take the plane to travel from Paris to Bordeaux or to Nantes or to Marseille or Lyon. You can take the TGV train and it will be comfortable and convenient. You will reach the city centers with a reduced carbon footprint. So I think the Paris Olympics will be, among other issues, the greenest Olympics ever organized."

"There are probably several places that will be able to accommodate the Olympics" - Thierry Berthelot on India hosting the Games

The hosting rights for the 2036 Summer Olympics are up for grabs and the Indian government announced its aspiration to host the event for the first time a few months ago.

When asked about how close or far the country is from turning that dream into a reality, Mr. Berthelot said:

"I think as the Indian economy is developing very fast and especially here in Karnataka, I'm quite confident that India and Indian people will be able to reach the international standards that are required to organize Olympics . But of course it means that India will have to reach some international criteria. As you know, the decision to host the Olympics is not only wishful thinking. It has to be validated by the International Olympic Committee and they look at a lot of criteria. So they will tell you if it's possible or not."

Continuing further on what could help India fulfill this dream, Mr. Berthelot said:

"I guess it's a challenge that India can match if you improve infrastructures in the place you will organize the Olympics, if you also improve the public transport systems and if you build the equipment as required by the International Olympic Committee as well as the accommodations for the athletes and their teams and also for the media who will have to cover those events."

Mr. Berthelot also shed further light on the benefits of a country as geographically vast as India hosting the Summer Olympics are.

"In such a large country like India, there are probably several places that will be able to accommodate the Olympics in the future. You have many coastal areas for maritime sports, you also have mountains for winter sports and you have a lot of other places. You can have bicycle races if you choose a place without air pollution and you can have soccer competitions, handball and many other sports. But it needs a lot of years to be prepared and you need to get the approval of the International Olympic Committee," said Mr. Berthelot.

"A lot of opportunities for cross-experiences between countries" - Thierry Berthelot on the four new sports introduced in Paris Olympics 2024

A glimpse of the Paris 2024 Village.
A glimpse of the Paris 2024 Village.

Every host nation gets to nominate four sports of their choice for the Summer Olympics. France has done the same ahead of the Paris edition with breaking, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing nominated for the same.

Mr. Berthelot opined about the impact of these sports increasing the interest levels for the event even further.

"I think there will probably be a few sports that are not well known in France that French people will be happy to discover or to discover better than they used to. And it will be a very good opportunity for France to showcase the performances of its teams in some sports where they are really at the top levels in the world. It goes both ways. For example, we have very good teams in rugby in France. We have an excellent handball national team who just won the European Championship. We are also good in many sports like bicycle races and of course in soccer. Windsurfing is also an area that is quite developed in France. It is not so well known in some countries like India. So it gives a lot of opportunities for I would say cross-experiences between various countries," concluded Mr. Berthelot.

With just under six months to go for the quadrennial event, the excitement is palpable. And it is only bound to hit a crescendo as the countdown to the event narrows even further.

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Edited by Siddharth Dhananjay
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