Paris 2024 unveils only purpose-built Olympics venue in city, five months ahead of Summer Games
PARIS (AP) — Amid the buzz of anticipation for the 2024 Olympics, organizers and Paris City Hall officials inaugurated Sunday the first – and only – purpose-built site in the French capital for this summer’s Games, nestled in a multicultural working-class neighborhood.
The Adidas Arena at Porte de la Chapelle – among the poorest areas in Paris – is ready and “operational” about five months before the Games begin, officials said. It is being touted as showcasing the city’s readiness and commitment to both the global sporting community and its residents.
This venue will host badminton and rhythmic gymnastics events during the 2024 Olympics and is expected to be part of broader efforts to revitalize local communities. For the Paralympics, it will also host athletes competing in badminton and weightlifting events.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said Sunday that she was “proud” that an area that was once described as “a no-go zone” is now beginning to be transformed. “Before people mocked us,” she said. “Change is possible.”
The inauguration represents a milestone, given the problems that dogged its construction. The facility, costing about 138 million euros ($150 million) and requiring 1,500 tons of steel, required organisers to secure materials from alternative sources amid supply issues caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Officials say it is also a symbol of the city’s desire to host a “sustainable” games, having been built with recycled materials and wood and featuring a green roof. It will also be the first arena of its kind in France to have a “sensory room” for people suffering from cognitive disorders.
Christened the Adidas Arena through a lucrative partnership worth approximately 2.8 million euros ($3 million) per year with the sportswear brand, the venue can host up to 8,000 spectators for an array of sports events and live performances.
It will also become the home of the Paris Basketball club. Two gymnasiums next to the venue will provide sport facilities that are much needed in the neglected community, according to city hall. In recent years, the location had been home to hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers living in squalid conditions in makeshift camps that have been regularly cleared by police.
Games organizers opted against constructing as many purpose-built buildings as seen in previous Games in other host cities. Other major construction work for 2024 includes the Olympic Village, which will house about 15,000 athletes and officials, and the swimming pool, both located technically outside of Paris in a suburban area north of the city.
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