Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet has outlined key areas where savings can be made in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, while defending the core "DNA" of a project labelled "obsolete" last month by former French Sports Minister Guy Drut.
Estanguet’s fellow International Olympic Committee member Drut, the 110 metres hurdles champion at Montreal 1976, claimed that the Paris 2024 plan was "obsolete, outdated, out of touch with reality" amidst the current crisis.
But Estanguet, who wrote earlier this month to all stakeholders highlighting the ongoing efforts to review and reinvent the project, insisted that the overall direction of travel would remain the same.
He told insidethegames that the feedback he has received to his letter had been “very positive” and added: "They all want this project to be a success, they all believe that it is really needed in this country - a positive project that will bring people together and will highlight the power of sport.
"So I remain optimistic…
"For me it was quite a misunderstanding about the reaction of Guy.
"We need a project in this country that will contribute to the economy, to the social aspect, that will bring people together.
"More than ever we need this project and we need to keep the best of this project, and the DNA of this project won’t change.
"We are on the right lines."
Estanguet’s take on Drut’s intervention contains a little puzzlement, but certainly not any objection.
Drut's comments come as the global economy looks set to enter a deep recession and the French economy has already entered one, with France's gross domestic product shrinking by 5.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020.
"I didn’t really understand why Guy did this comment," Estanguet said.
"Of course, we know we have to change, we have to adapt in the way we will deliver the Games.
"Because that is the principle of an Organising Committee - to remain connected to the reality, and to remain united.
"Because we are linked with many stakeholders, and in this situation all the stakeholders are suffering.
"Our role is also to see how we can help the sport movement to rebuild after the crisis.
"That’s the key moment.”
When pressed on how the Paris 2024 model will change in light of the new realities, Estanguet highlighted his desire for the "DNA" of the project to remain intact.
"At the moment the strategy is more how, without moving the DNA of the project, how we will adapt the back-of-house of the Games,” he said.
Estanguet cited changes in arrangements for transport, accommodation and human resources that he believes will save "millions of euros."
On transport, there is likely to be increased reliance on the Metro and rail systems already in place.
"We have a Metro station every 400 metres in the city," he said.
"So it is hard to say that we need to put in place a parallel transport system with shuttle buses for different public centres for media, national federations."
Estanguet also revealed plans to reduce to capacity of the Olympic Village from 17,000 to 15,000 beds.
There will additionally be an increased effort to access operations expertise already held by bodies such as the Tour de France organisers, which would obviate the need to hire thousands of extra experts to the Organising Committee as the Games draw nearer.
"It is great that the Organising Committee of Paris 2024 could be the one to benefit from this new intention to really adapt the Games for tomorrow," he added.
"We don’t have just to focus on the operation of the Games, we have to put even more energy into seeing how we can reinforce the legacy, the daily role of sport in society.
"That will really give sense to the whole project.
"It is somewhere where we can really make a difference - and this pandemic, to me, has opened a new window for us in this regard."
For the full interview and story see the Big Read.