The troubled issue of the aquatic center for the Paris Games – 04/03/2024 – Sports

The troubled issue of the aquatic center for the Paris Games – 04/03/2024 – Sports
The troubled issue of the aquatic center for the Paris Games – 04/03/2024 – Sports
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Complex planning and an undesirable result. The history of the Olympic Aquatics Center, the only permanent facility built for the Paris 2024 Games, which will be inaugurated by President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday (4), was full of obstacles from the beginning, forcing organizers to carry out secondary maneuvers.

The pool project for this year’s Games competitions, the most emblematic along with the Olympic Village, has been much more difficult than expected.

More than seven years ago, in the candidacy dossier, the Olympic swimming pool was supposed to cost less than 70 million euros (around R$250 million at the time), but the value rose to 90 million euros (R$287 million) when the final project was presented, in September 2017. Ultimately, the cost will be 175 million euros (R$956 million at current prices).

The most curious thing is that the place will no longer host Olympic swimming events because it is too small for an event of this magnitude.

Instead, the stages will be held at Arena La Défense, in Nanterre, on the other side of the French capital, in two demountable pools that will later be transferred to Sevran and Bagnolet, two locations on the outskirts of the city.

Olympic swimming pool without swimming

How to explain such a mess?

“This story about the swimming pool is an unprecedented originality in the Games. Something was set up to seek financial balance and, ultimately, France will be left without an Olympic swimming pool”, summarizes Armand de Rendinger, an expert on the Olympic Games. He states that it is necessary to go back to the beginning of the 2000s to understand what happened.

In 2001, during the award process for the 2008 Games, France presented a bid, although “without any possibility of obtaining it, but to prepare the 2012 bid”, which London would end up winning.

It was during this time that the project to build an Olympic swimming pool emerged, a facility that France needs, but which remains a phantom idea every time the French capital bids for the Olympic Games.

“But when Paris was chosen in Lima, in 2017, the promises had to be reconsidered more seriously, including the one about the swimming pool”, recalls De Rendinger.

The project quickly became a puzzle. A report from the Finance Inspectorate warned in 2018 of a likely and significant increase in costs, valuing the construction at 260 million euros (R$950 million at the time). Impossible to meet budget constraints. “Therefore, the cost of the pool had to be reduced,” said the expert.

Since then, several scenarios have been considered, with the construction companies Vinci and Bouygues in the initial stages, which would be chosen for the project in April 2020, in which the value was estimated at 175 million euros (R$ 1 billion at the time), but with an important modification to what was planned: it could not have more than 5,000 seats. This capacity is insufficient for the international federation, which imposes a minimum of 15,000 seats for swimming events in major events.

Artistic swimming, diving and water polo

Therefore, the Olympic Aquatics Center, connected to the Stade de France by a catwalk, will host the qualifying events for artistic swimming, diving and water polo.

“It’s obviously a fiasco, but the problem was at the root”, considers David Roizen, an expert at the Jean Jaurès Foundation.

The infrastructure has an area of ​​20,000 m², with a wooden structure and four swimming pools: one intended for teaching swimming, another for recreational use, a third for competitions and the last for diving.

“It continues to be a huge advance for Seine-Saint Denis, one of the departments with the least equipment”, highlights a regional official on condition of anonymity.

Some new and renovated swimming pools will also be a legacy of the Olympic Games in France’s poorest department, where one in two children does not know how to swim by the time they reach primary school, according to authorities.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: troubled issue aquatic center Paris Games Sports

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