A yr earlier than the beginning of the Olympic Games in Paris, organisers revealed the torch, launching a countdown to Olympics ecstasy filled with steely plans in a troubled and divided land.
Created by the zeitgeist designer Mathieu Lehanneur, the Olympic torch is smooth. At 1.5 kilogrammes, it stands 70 centimetres excessive, and is 10 centimetres huge within the center and three.5 centimetres on the backside.
Aesthetes suitably happy, now a nod to the ecological foyer: ArcelorMittal produced it utilizing XCARB recycled and renewably produced metal. Only 2,000 can be created to scale back the carbon footprint. Bless.
Enough, then, for the fans and the cynics to feast upon within the quick time period.
“Held with immense pride by the torchbearers and admired with fascination by the public, the Torch is a mythical object, special to the world of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” stated Tony Estanguet, the supremo of the Paris 2024 organising committee.
“The Torch is an object that carries the values and spirit of the Games, spreading them through the Olympic Flame and the Paralympic Flame across the land and as close to everyone as possible before symbolically marking the opening of the Games at the lighting of the cauldron,” Estanguet added.
At that ceremony, deliberate for 26 July 2024, Paris will – with all due respect – not have the ability to maintain a candle to Tokyo 1964.
The torch was introduced into the ceremony by 19-year-old Yoshinori Sakai who had been born in Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, the day an American battle aircraft dropped an atomic bomb on town. Sakai, wheelchair-bound, was chosen to symbolise Japan’s submit battle rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Heft doesn’t come extra spectacular. Still, designer Lehanneur says he needs the torch to undertaking peace with the purity of its form and rounded edges.
Rather than ready till subsequent May’s sart of the torch relay from Marseille, organisers would do effectively to take the message of tranquility out instantly into the communities ravaged by rioting following the taking pictures of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk by a police officer on 27 June in Nanterre, simply outdoors Paris.
An estimated one billion euros price of harm was prompted through the riots and clashes with safety forces within the wake of Merzouk’s demise. France’s social divisions and policing insurance policies have additionally got here below scrutiny.
Riots in France’s banlieues are over for now, however deep-rooted anger stays
President Emmanuel Macron was at pains to wash up France’s picture throughout a go to to New Caledonia this week.
“Order must prevail,” he stated throughout an interview on TF1 tv. “There is no freedom without order. Our country needs a return to authority at every level, starting with the family.”
“France must invest massively in our youth to provide them with a framework,” he added.
Olympics for all?
But ticket costs for the Olympics means that solely the very will have the ability to get pleasure from a day trip on the enjoyable honest projected as a “Games for all” extravaganza.
Of the promised a million seats priced at 24 euros – the bottom value – practically 150,000 went up on the market in May.
But as these tickets have been snapped up, different potential patrons quickly discovered themselves going through a lot increased costs.
Three days after the launch of gross sales, tickets have been on supply at 690 euros and even 980 euros for athletics semi-finals, and as excessive as 2,700 euros for the opening ceremony.
Nafissatou Thiam, Belgium’s two-time Olympic heptathlon champion, advised DH in Belgium: “I’m not even sure that my family will be able to come to see me, it’s so expensive.”
French judoka Amandine Buchard, a world bronze medallist, hit out at organisers on Twitter: “Olympic Games accessible to all, you said… In fact, you have to take out a bank loan so that families and loved ones can have the chance to come and see us. Well at least if by then there are still tickets.”
France’s Sports Minster, Amelie Oudea-Castera, defended the pricing coverage, telling parliament in May that ticket costs have been decrease than at earlier Olympics.
So for the hoi polloi, then, it is a competitors to see the competitors.
“Frankly it started very strong, almost too much so,” the organising committee stated of the demand for tickets. “It’s proof of the huge enthusiasm.”
“We expected the criticism,” added Estanguet. “We were warned that the sales periods were a difficult time. But we underestimated the scale.
“With 4 million registered within the draw for 1.5 million tickets on sale within the second section, we knew that some individuals can be dissatisfied.”
David Roizen, a France-based sports policy analyst, told the French news agency AFP that a “Games for all” project could not exist in the money-spinning world of modern sports.
“The Champions League last, the Olympics, are occasions reserved for a monetary elite,” he said. “It is a mistake to have raised the prospect of a ‘Games for all’.”
His overview has been borne out with the opening ceremony along the river Seine.
When it was initially presented, organisers said 600,000 spectators could line the riverbanks along the six-kilometre route
During a test run last week, 39 boats sailed along the river between the Pont d’Austerlitz in the east to the foot of the Eiffel Tower in the west.
“We learnt as we speak that it is technically possible,” Estanguet told Reuters news agency.
But a two-tiered system will be necessary. Around 200,000 people will have paid for seats low down on the riverbank, while 400,000 will be able to sneak a view higher up for free.
Cost of the games
While the Paris organisers trumpet their idea of being the first city to place the opening ceremony outside a stadium, there are concerns about the social cost to such a whizzy idea.
A system of AI-powered video surveillance cameras will watch spectators. It will be tested during the impending 2023 rugby union World Cup in France.
Critics say that the legislation allowing cameras – some on drones and aircraft – to feed algorithms alerting the authorities to potential dangers, such as crowd surges or abandoned bags, is too gross an intrusion into privacy.
The law will operate at sporting, cultural or recreational events involving more than 300 people until 31 March 2025.
By which time, it will either become part of the everyday fabric of modern life and only ne’er-do-wells and social miscreants will want such life-enhancing apparatus removed.
The usual suspicions will be presented in the coming months: will the infrastructure be ready? Is it worth the cost? What about the terrorists? And will there be a boycott if Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to appear even under a neutral banner, while the war in Ukraine continues?
Such a snub would take Paris into the same realm as six other summer Games, most notoriously Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles in 1984.
Not the sort of stigma anyone wants after spending a couple of billion euros.
Originally published on RFI