The 2024 Olympic Games in Paris should not be used as an excuse for people’s resentment and dissatisfaction over social issues, France’s minister of sport has said.
Amélie Oudéa-Castéra was speaking following arguments over the exorbitant cost of the Games’ tickets and proposals that the city’s homeless population be relocated to make room in low-priced hotels for sports enthusiasts and tourists.
“We shouldn’t make the Olympics the scapegoat of all our frustrations. It’s important not to distort the facts and blame the Olympic Games for all our social problems,” Oudéa-Castéra said on Wednesday. “I don’t want us to mix everything up. We do have major challenges over emergency shelter, but it’s not the Olympics’ fault,” she told France 2 television.
She disputed that the efforts to relocate homeless people outside of Paris—which were launched in April of this year—were related to the Games.
“Today we have around 200,000 emergency places, a record since 2017, and we know there’s a very strong concentration in the Île-de-France … we have to deal with this and offer a better service. We cannot blame the Olympics for all the problems of society,” she said.
In an address to parliament on May 5, the housing minister, Olivier Klein, drew a comparison between the Games and the issue of a lack of emergency accommodation for the homeless in the city.
He claimed that low-cost lodgings, which are frequently used by the homeless and asylum seekers, intended to charge more for rooms during the Rugby World Cup in September and the Olympics in July of the following year. He warned that the number of emergency rooms could drop to 5,000.
Some regions of France are already concerned about the idea of building new facilities that would be financed by the state to temporarily house refugees and homeless people from Paris.
In order to free up hotel space in and around Paris, Agence France-Presse reported last week that the government has been pushing local prefects to establish temporary reception centers in all but two French regions since mid-March.
Philippe Salmon, the mayor of Bruz, in north-west Brittany, voiced his opposition to plans for a new centre in his town of 18,000 people. “We are not in favour of installing such a holding centre in our municipality under conditions that we consider unworthy,” he told French media.
The chairman of the Abbé Pierre Foundation in Île-de-France, Eric Constantin, expressed skepticism that this would result in a long-lasting resolution to the issue.
Additionally, he challenged the idea that the timing of the Olympic Games and the initiative “to send migrants to the provinces” was merely a coincidence, speculating that the government could wish to make sure “there are no more camps before millions of people arrive in France.”
The pricing of the tickets has also drawn harsh criticism for the Paris Olympics’ organizers. To view the opening ceremony from one of the 100,000 seats available on the lower quayside will cost between €90 and €2,700. It will take place along the River Seine. The number of free spots on the higher quays is anticipated to be between 500,000 and 600,000. Costs for admission to the closing ceremony at the Stade de France range from €45 to €1,600.
Tony Estanguet, the president of the organizers, insisted that the 5.3% of tickets that cost €400 or more will help pay the 4 million tickets that cost €50 or less in order to make the event accessible to the “greatest number possible.”