Paris 2024 : Versailles prepares to host the equestrian events

On Monday, the French Sports Minister has visited the park of the Château de Versailles where the equestrian events of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place, as well as the majority of the modern pentathlon events of the Olympic Games.

On this occasion, Laura Flessel was welcomed by Catherine Pegard, President of the Public Establishment of the Versailles Palace, and François de Mazieres, Mayor of the City of Versailles.

The French Sports Minister at the park of the Château de Versailles (Credits – François de Mazieres, Mayor of Versailles / Twitter)

After a visit to the former royal residence, the Minister has visited the venue to host the Paris 2024 Games.

In concrete terms, the venue will have temporary infrastructures capable of receiving between 12,000 and 62,500 spectators depending on the events.

Dressage on the occasion of the Paralympic Games will be attended by 12,000 people, while dressage, jumping and modern pentathlon (swimming, riding, running and shooting) will be held in front of 22,500 people.

The maximum capacity will be offered for the equestrian eventing where no less than 62,500 spectators will take place in an exceptional perspective in the heart of the park of the Château de Versailles.

To accommodate the Olympic and Paralympic events, an investment of $ 12.106 million is planned and will be supported by the Organizing Committee for the Games (OCOG).

Concerning practicalities, the City of Versailles will be responsible for the approval of the construction and the OCOG will be responsible for the planning for the Games.

Beyond the prospect of hosting the Games, the Château de Versailles could be imbued with the Olympic and Paralympic spirit well before the 2024 deadline, in order to contribute to a legacy.

“We could create a program to visit the Château de Versailles around sports in history.

In the years to come, in order to get kids to share the feeling that sport is important and culture is important, we could make synergies that would be very interesting” said Catherine Pegard.

Visual of the park of the Château de Versailles (Credits – Paris 2024)

As part of the previous French Bids, the participation of the Château de Versailles was considered only in the context of the 2012 Olympic Games.

For this project, Versailles would have housed the Shooting Center – new permanent venue – and the Palace would have organized the start of the race (road cycling) in the presence of 5,000 people.

In order to ensure the smooth running of the Games on these two venues, the OCOG would have taken over the entire investment required to bring the temporary stands for cycling up to $ 8 million. The OCOG would have contributed $ 6.2 million to the Shooting Center funding ($ 20.5 million).

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Concerning the equestrian events, Paris 2012 had imagined a project carried out by the venue of Longchamp-Bagatelle for a cost of $ 33 million taken in charge by the OCOG, with 50,000 temporary seats for the complete contest, 30,000 seats for dressage and jumping, as well as for the modern pentathlon riding event.

For the Paralympic Games, Longchamp-Bagatelle was also involved, as well as for road cycling.

Versailles would have retained the shooting events.

Previously, the equestrian events as well as those of the modern pentathlon had been conceived for other sites in Paris or the Paris region.

(Credits – Paris 2008 Bid Book)

Thus, for the Paris 2008 project, the majestic Esplanade des Invalides was chosen for the modern pentathlon and the equestrian events for dressage and jumping.

Temporary adjustments of $ 29.4 million would have been necessary, of which $ 20.3 million was the sole responsibility of the OCOG.

The equestrian eventing, however, was organized at the Auteuil racecourse with a programmed renovation for $ 10.7 million, including $ 7.8 million for the Games Organizing Committee.

As for equestrian events of the Paralympic Games, the team of Paris 2008 had increased its preference in the departmental park of La Courneuve.

(Credits – Sport & Society Archives / Paris 1992 Bid Book)

For the Paris 1992 project, no less than four different venues had been integrated into the Olympic concept for the equestrian events and the modern pentathlon.

Indeed, the Fontainebleau Domain would have been mobilized for the equestrian eventing (10,000 to 20,000 seats) and the modern pentathlon (2,000 seats). The Longchamp venue would have been solicited for the jumping (30,000 seats), while the Champ de Mars in Paris would have hosted the dressage event in front of temporary stands of up to 20,000 spectators.

Particularity of the time, jumping in individual event would have taken place the Olympic Stadium which was then shown at Vincennes / Le Tremblay for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Games and for athletics events.

As stated in the Paris 1992 Bid Book, “the individual show jumping competition will take place in the main Olympic Stadium just before the Closing Ceremony”.

In fact, up to 80,000 people could have attended this event.

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Referring to the previous French bids to the Summer Games, it is also worth mentioning the Lille project to host the 2004 Olympics.

The northern city of France had planned to host the jumping events – in team and individual – in the heart of the new Olympic Stadium in Villeneuve d’Ascq. After special adjustments up to $ 600,000, some 72,000 spectators could have followed the competitions.

For dressage, the existing Equestrian Center of Marcq-en-Baroeul would have been integrated into the project after work on the order of $ 4.4 million, of which 70% is the responsibility of the OCOG. At the time of the Games, 5,000 people could have taken place on this venue.

For the equestrian eventing, the Parcours de Phalempin – with a capacity of 50,000 spectators – was chosen by the Bid Committee, which then planned a renovation and adaptation of the venue for a total amount of $ 16.3 million.

Finally, with regard to modern pentathlon events – apart from swimming – the Citadel Park would have been approached (12,390 seats) after an upgrade investment of $ 6.3 million.

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