The Paralympics in Paris will not open in the stadium

Paris –

Marching down France’s most famous boulevard with their prosthetics, wheelchairs and tales of adversity, the world’s top Paralympic athletes make their way to a grand celebration of their skill and sport in Pariser Platz, where the French revolutionaries of 1789 chopped off heads .

Paris organizers on Thursday announced their plans for the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, an event involving 4,400 athletes that will follow the first Olympics since the COVID-19 pandemic in less than two years.

The eye-catcher is the venue itself: for the first time, the opening show of the Paralympics will be freed from a traditional stadium backdrop and instead take place in the open air in the heart of the French capital, on the Champs-Elysees Boulevard and the city’s largest square. Place de la Concorde.

The once blood-soaked square where King Louis XVI, his Queen Marie Antoinette and other nobles were guillotined during the French Revolution that laid the first foundations of modern France is emerging as a conspicuous focal point of the Paris Games.

The square, set like a jewel between the Tuileries Gardens, the Seine and the majestic Crillon Hotel, will be transformed into the arena for the new Olympic sports of breakdance, 3v3 basketball, BMX cycling and skateboarding and will come back to the Program following its Olympic debut at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021.

Just 17 days after Jul 26-Aug. 11 Olympic Games in Paris, the Place de la Concorde will then be the focus of the unprecedented opening ceremony from August 28th to September. 8 Paralympic Games.

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons predicted a ceremony that “will be a thing of beauty and a once in a lifetime event that will go down in all our history books.”

“This festival of inclusion begins with the truly unique experience of thousands of Paralympians marching down the world’s most famous avenue. What an incredible thrill it will be to step onto the Champs-Elysees and then make the journey down to the Place de la Concorde while being framed by the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre,” he said in a 2024 release from the organizers common remark.

Organizers said the ceremony will accommodate 65,000 people – the equivalent of the crowd in a large Olympic stadium.

French Paralympics and Sports Committee President Marie-Amelie Le Fur said breaking out of the stadium’s confines was “a revolution”.

“Walking down the Champs-Elysees to the Place de la Concorde and sharing it with almost 65,000 people in the heart of the capital will be a historic moment,” she said. “It’s unheard of.”

About 30,000 of those present can watch the ceremony free of charge.

The choice of venue is part of the Paris organizers’ massive effort to free the Olympic and Paralympic Games from the shackles of traditional sports venues and transform the French capital into a giant sports arena during the games, with the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais and other landmarks serving as venues for competition used.

The concept – summarized in the official slogan “Games Wide Open” – is not without risk. The use of urban sites as venues poses security, transportation and logistics challenges.

The Olympic opening ceremony will also break with tradition and take place on the waters of the Seine instead of in a stadium.

Boats will parade the 10,500 athletes down the east-west waterway. Organizers are planning at least 600,000 spectators, most of them without tickets and free of charge, and anticipate the largest opening ceremony in Olympic history.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be directed by award-winning French theater director Thomas Joly.