EventsEventsPodcasts
Loader
Find Us
ADVERTISEMENT

Paris 2024: French towns say 'non merci' to Olympic torch relay over cost concerns

Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou dressed as an ancient Greek high priestess lights the Olympic torch as choreographer Artemis Ignatiou looks on during the olympic flame handover.
Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou dressed as an ancient Greek high priestess lights the Olympic torch as choreographer Artemis Ignatiou looks on during the olympic flame handover. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Estelle Nilsson-Julien
Published on Updated
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

Citing costs, departments across France have turned down the chance to be in the world's spotlight. So, how much are they being asked to pay and is it worth it?

ADVERTISEMENT

The eyes of the world will turn to France in July 2024, as the summer Olympic Games begins with a spectacular opening ceremony on the River Seine. 

Before that, the Olympic torch embarks on a two-month journey around the country, after criss-crossing the globe on its way from Mount Olympus in Greece, to the French capital. 

But this Olympic tradition is turning into a headache for organisers, with towns and cities saying a polite 'no merci' to a visit from the Olympic flame torch relay, citing the high costs involved. 

Departments have been asked to fork out €150,000 - amounting to €180,000 with taxes included.

At least 10 of France's 96 mainland departments - the administrative rung below the regional level - have formerly declared that they won't be hosting the torch. 

Sparking tensions

Citizens of the Rhône department in southeastern France - where the country's third largest city Lyon is located - will not be catching a glimpse of the torch.

It's a cause for frustration for some. 

In a statement released by the Rhône branch of Emmanuel Macron's youth supporters, 'Les Jeunes avec Macron', the department garnered criticism for a decision supposedly made on environmental grounds.

"The narrow-mindedness of environmentalists who confuse the fight against global warming with an environmentalist puritanism that would ban all forms of festive spirit".

However, these are not the reasons that the department and city stated.

"Asking for 180,000 euros from each department does not make any sense. Some departments are smaller and others are less robust. It would have been more logical for regions to organise financing of the torches at the regional level in order to ensure territorial equity", stated Bruno Bernard, President of the Lyon Metropole.

“We would naturally have liked to host the flame, however the economic conditions required by the Olympic Committee - 180 000 euros for an activity which lasts only one day, seem unreasonable in terms of public action”, he added.

Prioritising local sport

Christophe Guilloteau, President of the Rhône region spoke out against hosting the flame as early as January 2022. 

He told Euronews "on top of this expense there is the cost of the activities which will compliment the torch's relay. The Rhône Department would rather invest in local events, and support the sports industry on our territory."

The departments of les Vosges, la Meurthe-et-Moselle, l'Indre-et-Loire, le Lot-et-Garonne, la Creuse, la Haute-Loire et la Haute-Vienne, la Loire-Atlantique, les Côtes-d'Armor et l'Orne have all declared they will not be hosting the flame. 

"This sum is more than of my subsidies to fund sport events over the whole year", Ludovic Gouyette, vice-president of the Côtes-d’Armor department told France Bleu Armorique. The department is located in northern Britanny.

Why this cost?

The organising committee for the Paris 2024 Olympics, Cojo, said a "very large majority of departments have already welcomed" the flame, adding that the €150,000 ensures that the torch crosses "the maximum number of territories" on its way to Paris.

Cojo underlines that the torch's relay is funded "for the most part by the committee and its partners", stating that it will go ahead no matter what.

ADVERTISEMENT

In January 2023, the French government announced that the part of public funding for the games would increase to €2.4 billion.

According to a study by the Paris 2024 Olympics could generate €10.7 billion in economic benefits and produce 250,000 jobs. 

However, the cost of hosting the Olympic Games has skyrocketed in recent years. As fewer and fewer countries bid to host the huge multi-sport event, the International Olympic Committee has called for a reform of the process of selecting the host city.

Past glories

France has previously hosted the Olympic games on five occasions - and twice to date in Paris. 

Chamonix, located in the Haute-Savoie department will be hosting the flame: a moment in history as the ceremony will take place 100 years on from the Chamonix 1924 Olympics. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The cities of Grenoble and Albertville also hosted the winter games in 1992 and 1968 - but they won't be reviving past glories. Located in the Savoie and Isere departments, local leaders once again chose to pass on the chance of hosting the flame.

"Hosting the Tour de France has already allowed to gain more visibility from the population", at "a must lower cost", stated Frédéric Burnier Framboret, Mayor Albertville in an interview with l'Equipe.

However, the organisers insist that the relay will "offer a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on the regions of France, its heritage and savoir-faire... villages and iconic locations will benefit from the focus of the Games to reveal themselves to the world."

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Legendary Parisian waiter-race returns in time for Olympic Games

Olympic Games: Macron cancels plans to relocate Paris' riverside booksellers

French police raid headquarters of Paris 2024 organisers in corruption probe