By Anya Sandhu

We have been waiting for four years and now it’s finally here- the Paris Olympics 2024- the 33rd edition of the Summer Olympic Games! Running from the 26th of July to the 11th of August it will feature 10,500 athletes, and will be followed by the Paralympics (from the 28th of August until the 8th of September) giving us a perfect summer of sport. There will be 206 countries represented and 32 sports taking place with Paris becoming the only city to host the games three times, having previously hosted the games in 1900 and 1924. Many eager Olympic fans across the world are looking forwards to seeing or attending the games, however, despite the excitement political and social problems have caused tensions in Paris during the preparation for the games.

PARIS, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 09: The logo of the candidacy of Paris 2024 is projected on the Arc de Triomphe on February 09, 2016 in Paris, France. The city of Paris is a candidate for the Summer Olympics in 2024 along with Rome, Budapest and Los Angeles. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

One major debate which has emerged is whether Russia will be competing, as neither Russia nor Belarus will be taking part due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ support of this. Despite this, athletes from these countries have been allowed to compete as Individual Neutral Athletes without flags, emblems or anthems from their countries. However, the International Gymnastics Federation have decided to not include any Russian gymnasts. The head of the IOC (International Olympic Committee), Thomas Bach stated at a forum in Geneva, ‘Individual athletes cannot be punished for the acts of their governments.’ The IOC also added that athletes and support personnel who actively supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be excluded from the Games. Ukraine had threatened to boycott the 2024 Olympics if the ban was not upheld. Mr Bach dismissed these threats saying that countries which disagree, ‘are allowed to have different political opinions.’ Despite this, their Sports Minister, Vadym Huttsait told the news agency Reuters in July 2023 that the threat could be dropped if Russian and Belarusian athletes competed under a neutral flag. These athletes who own Russian or Belarusian passports are called AINs and the IOC outlined six ‘strict eligibility conditions’ for them including athletes contracted to Russian or Belarusian agencies will not be eligible and many conditions stated before.

The IOC has been criticized by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for not also banning Israel from the Games due to its military operation in Gaza. Thomas Bach responded and told Reuters that the comparison was wrong and confirmed that Israel would still participate.

Another issue facing Paris is that some locals are not in favour of the Olympics being held there and this is for numerous reasons. A contributing factor is bus and metro fares being doubled during the six weeks of the Olympics. Instead of transport fares being free for competition ticket holders, fares will double for the Olympics and Paralympics regardless of Paris’ promise in their bid for the games to make bus and metro fares free. An Odoxa poll showed that nearly one in two Parisians thought the games were a ‘bad thing’ which is a 44% negative rating. There are also worries from the Parisians if the extension to Metro Line 14 will be ready in time but if not, it has been stated that it is not a “major concern”. In addition, student housing has been required to host Olympic staff during the summer of 2024 and this has caused tensions with the student population. The students affected will receive compensation in the form of 100 euros and two tickets to the Games.

The Olympics organisers are also handling a domestic issue. There have been suspicions of fraud and undocumented workers being hired to build infrastructure leading up to the Games. Additionally, the interior ministry has been casting out homeless people in an attempt to improve Paris’ image in preparation for the Games. Protests have been reported from the booksellers on the banks of the river Seine against the interior ministry’s order to displace them temporarily due to the opening ceremony being held on the Seine. 400,000 people are set to attend the opening ceremony, but the location poses security risks according to Lukas Aubin, sports geopolitics specialist, ‘Certain groups could use it to send a message.’

As we know, no Olympics is without its political issues and the 2024 Olympics will still go on and be incredible and will be enjoyed by a great number internationally.