Thirteen months before the opening ceremony of Paris 2024, Marseille is slowly slipping into its Olympic clothes. The city was chosen to host ten meetings of the women’s and men’s football tournaments and all the sailing events. It will also be the symbolic gateway to the great tour of the Olympic flame in France, on May 8 and 9, 2024.
So many meetings still a little distant for the Marseillais, more concerned by the six matches of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, scheduled for the start of the school year at the Vélodrome stadium, or by the arrival, on September 23, of Pope Francis on this same lawn.
On several levels, Marseille will nevertheless be an outpost of Paris 2024. “Forever the first”, amused the chairman of the Organizing Committee for the Games (Cojop), Tony Estanguet, ping through the Old Port in February, adapting the cherished slogan of the supporters of Olympique de Marseille.
First Olympic tests
From July 7 to 16, Marseille and its harbor will host the Sailing Test Event, the first prefiguration of the Games. Like the two other competitions directly piloted by the Cojop – triathlon in Paris from August 17 to 20 and mountain biking in Elancourt (Yvelines) in September – the event will constitute a dress rehearsal to evaluate sites, equipment and part of the processes that will be used in 2024.
The new Roucas-Blanc nautical base (8e), located at the foot of the hill of the same name and at the end of the corniche, will thus experience its baptism as an Olympic marina by welcoming 1,200 people, including 350 athletes representing 55 nations. On the water, the safety device planned for 2024 by the maritime prefecture will also be tested. Concerted with the ociations of users for several months, it prohibits any navigation on the zone of competition, between the island of Frioul and the shore, from 8 am to 8 pm the days of tests.
“I haven’t heard any negative feedback from the nautical companies”, promises, in this regard, the vice-president (Les Républicains, LR) of the metropolis, in charge of the sea and ports, Didier Réault. Among the fishermen, however, some teeth grind. And an informal collective of swimmers – the Prado Swimmers – accuses the Games, by settling on Prado Nord beach, of depriving the people of Marseilles of one of their most accessible leisure spots in the city.
The public will not be officially invited
If the images of the foil boats promise to be magnificent, the public will not be officially invited to this appetizer of Paris 2024. To observe the best crews in the world, they will have to squat the cornice or the heights Prado beaches. “It’s not about doing the Games before the Games », explains Cédric Dufoix, manager of the Marseille and Nice sites for the Organizing Committee.
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