Paris athletes’ village stands as key issue in battle with LA

Olympics

PARIS — Paris leaders of their latest Olympic bid insisted on Monday that their planned $1.86-billion athletes’ village had guaranteed funding only for the 2024 Games and not 2028.

The International Olympic Council is assessing the possibility of giving Paris and Los Angeles the next two Olympics in September, and the athletes’ village has become a hot topic because Paris officials say their site will not be available after 2024.

“We are committed with the public authorities on this project for 2024, after that it’s not guaranteed,” bid leader Tony Estanguet told the media on Monday.

Michael Aloisio, the deputy general director of the Paris bid, said before it would be difficult for Paris to freeze the project for four extra years “because there’s a need for the people around this area for housing.”

“All these projects have now been launched, and so they will take place before 2024, and so we can’t just freeze them and kind of sideline them for four years.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo stressed that the village in the Seine-Saint-Denis will help develop an area where unemployment remains high. A total of 3,000 new homes should be built in the district after the Olympics.

“We believe in the regeneration of this area,” Hidalgo said.

Bid officials showed IOC inspectors the planned village site in the Pleyel area, a 125-acre site next to the river Seine. They said 84 percent of the athletes would be able to reach their competition venues in less than 25 minutes, and the Olympic stadium and aquatics center were within 1.2 miles of the proposed village.

In addition, the bid committee said new public transport infrastructure will make the village more accessible, with the creation of a new train station, and a road interchange that should make it accessible from the center of Paris in about 20 minutes by car.

The inspectors were impressed by the village plans.

“This site is extremely well located and (close) to all competition venues,” said Patrick Baumann, the head of the IOC evaluation commission. “We received all the necessary information to understand how the site will be developed. We also spoke with the architect, who told us how the future housing project will be done.”

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