On the spot

 Anne Hidalgo

Mayor of Paris, France

The City of Paris will host the 2023 Annual meeting of the World Union of Olympic Cities & the smartcities & sport summit from 27 November to 1st December. The Union warmly thanks you for welcoming its Members and the participants of the summit. Few months ahead of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Olympic Games, what message would you like to share with the Members of the Union?What a pleasure it is to welcome you to Paris, just a few months before the start of the Paris 2024 Games! I would like to welcome all the host cities that have answered the call. As you know, the role of the cities is absolutely central to the organisation of the Games. It is up to us to build them so that they are both a great international celebration and an event that benefits the people who live in our regions, while taking into account the climate and social challenges.In Paris, we were fortunate to be able to draw inspiration from the organisational model of Olympic cities such as Tokyo and Lausanne for the Youth Olympic Games. I am delighted to be able to share the Paris experience and the way in which the Games are accelerating the transformation of our city.I would like to extend my warmest thanks to WUOC and its President Grégoire Junod for this initiative. This summit is a great way of strengthening our ties and raising the voice of cities. As the Mayor of Paris, you will host the traditional Olympic Cities’ Mayors’ roundtable. This year Mayors will address sustainability in the context of sport event hosting. How have the 2024 Olympic & Paralympic Games boosted ecological transition in Paris?From the earliest bidding stages, we decided that hosting the Games could only be done in a way that respected our ecological and social priorities. Our aim is not to compete for the sake of competing. It is also about accelerating the transformation of our regions, creating a lasting legacy for our residents and showing the world that another way of doing things is possible.For example, for the first time in the history of the Games, all the participants and stakeholders involved in the organisation will have to do without single-use plastic! Instead, fountains and reusable glass bottles will be put in place. I am also thinking of the sixty kilometres of cycle paths that will be built in record time to serve the Olympic venues, and which will of course remain as a legacy! These are projects that we would surely have completed in the future, but the Olympic and Paralympic Games have enabled us to accelerate, remove the obstacles and save precious time.It’s a chance for our association to have an opportunity to discover not only the backstage of the Games’ preparation but also to discover – live – all the projects that the City of Paris is implementing, building up on the Games to give the Parisians and the visitors, a long-term legacy. In a nutshell, what are the main focuses of your legacy program?Our bid was made with the aim of leaving a tangible and intangible legacy for those who live in Paris every day. I am thinking first and foremost of the central issue of accessibility and the place of people with disabilities in our society. Paris will be hosting the Paralympic Games for the first time in its history. With more than 4,000 parathletes and 350,000 visitors with disabilities, this is a major challenge for our historic city. While temporary arrangements will be put in place during the Games, the Games will also accelerate lasting changes for the people of Paris and the Ile-de-France region who have disabilities.We are working on the accessibility of all our bus routes by 2024, and the deployment of 17 “enhanced accessibility districts” from 2024 to ensure that all our services and shops are accessible along a route. I am also thinking of parasport, which we are developing by creating a network of para-sport clubs, with 40 sections already open. It also means greater visibility. In 2022 and 2023, we hosted several competitions: the European Wheelchair Rugby Championships, the World Para-Athletics Championships – the 2nd biggest international parasport event – and in a few days’ time the Wheelchair Rugby World Cup.I also want to mention the new Adidas Arena, part of a new mixed-use district between Porte de la Chapelle and Porte d’Aubervilliers. After the Games, all the surrounding areas will be renovated and the arena will be open to local sport and local residents, incorporating two gymnasiums for local needs and an area offering leisure activities and shops for local residents.The significance of the Games in 2024 also lies in their intangible legacy:

  • We are working to ensure every year the educational success of 1,000 children with learning difficulties.
  • We have included social clauses in our tenders for the Games, in order to guarantee that 10% of the hours worked are reserved for people who are far from employment and that 25% of the public tenders are reserved for micro businesses, SMEs and local social enterprises.
  • We will make sure that every year, 5,000 women have access to the grounds.
  • We launched the Talents 2024 call for projects that supports and finances 24 young people’s projects every year.
  • Almost 500 people with disabilities are now able to practice sport thanks to a new offer and trained instructors.
  • Maisons sport santé were set up to prescribe sports sessions to patients instead of or in addition to medication.

Some 50,000 Parisians will be able to take advantage of these facilities every year after the Games!
Finally, one of the most emblematic legacies will be the opening of several swimming areas in the Seine at Bercy, Bras Marie and Bras de Grenelle. It was a colossal challenge! The Games enabled us to mobilise all the stakeholders around this objective, and over €1.4 billion was invested to carry out the necessary work. In Paris, for example, we built a huge water retention basin at Austerlitz to limit wastewater discharges into the Seine in wet weather.Above all, it is a promise to give Parisians their river back, just as the banks of the Seine have become a place to live and celebrate. At a time of climate change, this is an essential adaptation measure.  2024 also marks the centenary of the 1924 Paris Games. As Olympic anniversary are always an opportunity to activate its legacy, how has Paris prepared this anniversary, in connection with 2024?I am very happy to be able to celebrate this historic anniversary!The torch relay, the ceremonies that will take place on the Seine and at La Concorde, as well as our Parisian festivities sites, will be places to commemorate and celebrate everything that makes us proud: Paris, the city of all freedoms, the city of all revolutions, the city that speaks to the world, the city of refuge.But most of all, it is the Paris of today, in line with the challenges of climate change, that we will be highlighting, the Paris for future generations!What would you like the Union’s Members to return home with after their stay in Paris in terms of best practices, inspiration and new ideas?Paris has always inspired the world, and of course I want it to continue to do so in 2024! But I know that every city is unique and every event has its own specificities. Even though we will continue to share our experience, what I want above all is for the efforts we have made to bring the organisation of major events into line with climate issues to continue.Our ambition with the IOC is to make Paris a new starting point, with humility but with determination. I am delighted to know that Milan, Los Angeles and Brisbane will continue along this path. It is vital for the Olympics of tomorrow!