It has been reported by the Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD), on 21 January 2023, that Pascale Ribes, the president of APF France Handicap, has warned about the conditions for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. It appears that the ‘City of Love’ stands totally unprepared to accommodate the 350,000 visitors with disabilities who are expected to participate.
The JDD reports a statement by Pascale Ribes, president of APF France handicap, as follows:
“Thousands of people with disabilities will not be able to buy tickets because there are too few places reserved for people in wheelchairs in stadiums or stands”, denounces APF France Handicap.”
Pascale Ribes continues: “Making the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games inclusive, such was the promise of the Paris 2024 bid committee and the organizing committee. An exciting promise, a bold challenge… The result could be catastrophic for people with disabilities. A year and a half from the Paris 2024 Games, and while the Olympic bill is to be debated in Parliament in the coming days, it is clear that if no concrete and funded commitment is made, the 350,000 visitors [are not] expected to be able to attend these Games in decent conditions, or even not be able to attend at all.”
Three years ago, the Paris 2024 project, in the perspective of the “legacy” of the Games and a sustainability strategy, hit hard, announcing the Games ” to inspire “, ” to include “, ” to develop society “, ” Exemplary games in terms of universal accessibility “. And our association is committed to participating fully in the success of these inclusive Games,”
Pascale Ribes is reported as saying:
The 2024 Summer Olympics are (or were!) an exceptional development opportunity for France with economic, social, societal and territorial impacts because France had already hosted the Summer Olympics 100 years ago, and this would be a first for France to host the Paralympic Games.
Paris 2024 was intended to be an opportunity for people with disabilities. A chance to demonstrate accessibility of public transport and public places, to promote the practice of sport for people with disabilities, for their visibility in society; a chance to build a society open to all, where everyone has a place.
Sadly, these things are unlikely to happen. Only one Metro line (no 14) is accessible to people in wheelchairs. Paris is short of 22,000 security guards to protect the safety of participants and visitors at the main venues. The event will overlap with the return of French school pupils after their summer holidays, so public transport will already be congested. The airports are ill-prepared for the arrival of 350,000 visitors who will mainly wish to arrive by air.
The JDD has reported that: “Thousands of people with disabilities will not be able to buy a ticket because there are too few places reserved for people in wheelchairs in the stadiums or stands, for ceremonies for example, the percentage of places retained seems to be the international standard (0.8%) and not the French standard (2%). Thousands of spectators with disabilities will not be able to be accommodated in Paris, the assistance devices at the station or airport being already saturated, with no exceptional device planned. Thousands of spectators with disabilities will not be able to be accommodated in Paris, the number of adapted rooms being notoriously insufficient, despite regulatory obligations, not to mention prices…”
Respect is one of the three values of the Olympic movement. French men and women will be proud of Paris 2024 if every athlete and spectator is respected. The whole world will be watching. It is up to the public authorities to decide whether the respect of people with disabilities is really authentic. We await these games with great interest.
May our fears prove to be ungrounded.