Grand Palais introduced as new Paris 2024 venue

The International Olympic Committee has approved an optimised venue concept for the 2024 summer Olympic Games in Paris, with a new “iconic” venue amongst the changes introduced across multiple sports.

The concept is the product of work conducted in conjunction with the International Federations (IFs) and National Federations (NFs) of badminton, basketball, judo, wrestling, swimming and volleyball. The IOC Executive Board approved the changes yesterday (Thursday) at its meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Paris 2024 first revealed plans to scale back construction projects for the Games in June in response to concerns expressed by the French government’s financial inspectors that they were facing a potential overspend of up to €500m ($574.9m).

The principal changes to the concept include a new vision for the Olympic Aquatics Centre (OAC), which will see all aquatics events, apart from the 10km race, take place on a single site at Plaine Saulnier in Saint-Denis, next to the Stade de France, forming a venue cluster with athletics that will be located just a few metres from the Olympic Village. The OAC will be the only new competition venue built for the Games.

The new addition will introduce the temporary Grand Palais, a facility being created to host the major art, fashion and sport shows and events usually held at the historic venue of the same name during its renovation. Post-restoration work, the facility will now be retained until September 2024 to host the Paris 2024 judo and wrestling events. Situated on the Champ de Mars, the venue will be able to host 9,000 spectators at Games time.

This change removes the need to create a temporary venue at Le Bourget, which was originally planned to host badminton. Under the new concept, badminton events will now be held at Arena 2, located 3km from the Stade de France. The 7,500-seat arena was scheduled to be built regardless of the Olympics as a new home for the city’s basketball, handball and volleyball clubs.

Volleyball at the Olympics will move to a 12,000-capacity facility at Le Bourget, which Paris 2024 and the IOC claim will provide the sport with greater visibility at the Games and stronger transport links. Finally, with judo taking up residence at the Grand Palais, all basketball disciplines will now be situated at Paris Arena 1. Organisers claim this will enable cost savings on another venue, Stade Pierre-de-Coubertin, which had previously been earmarked to host preliminary women’s basketball matches.

Commenting on the changes, the chair of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for Paris 2024, Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant, said: “The spirit of co-construction is very much alive between the IOC and Paris 2024. The outcome is a better master plan, which avoids any unnecessary permanent construction and delivers a new iconic venue to the Games. I am particularly pleased that a solution has been found to leave an increased swimming legacy to the Seine-Saint-Denis region, where half of all children leaving primary school are unable to swim.”

The Olympic Games sport and venue concept will be finalised in 2021, following the IOC’s final decision, scheduled for late 2020, on the sports programme for Paris 2024.