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Revealed: Paris’s plans to turn the Seine into one gigantic Olympic stadium

The city’s audacious 2024 opening ceremony could include holograms, acrobats, floating orchestras – and 600,000 spectators

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Paris has just announced its plans for the 2024 Olympics opening ceremony, and they’re big. They’re huge. In fact, they’re absolutely bloody massive. 

The ambitious plans will involve turning almost the entire city into a stage. On July 24 2024, 160 boats, carrying a total of more than 10,000 athletes, will sail down the Seine. Lining the river will be hundreds of performers (including holograms, acrobats and floating symphony orchestras), before a final showdown in a mini-stadium at the Place du Trocadéro, just opposite the Eiffel Tower.

Rather than take place in a stadium, as is the norm with these things, Paris’s Olympic organisers want to show off the city itself. And, to be fair to them, why wouldn’t you? The French capital is chock full of gorgeous, instantly-recognisable landmarks. The organisers would be fools not to make the most of having so many cultural icons and works of architectural beauty at their disposal. 

The boats will sail for six kilometres between the Pont d’Austerlitz and Pont d’Iéna bridges. Organisers expect around 600,000 attendees along the riverbanks, in addition to the one billion watching around the world, which they claim would make it the biggest Olympic opening ceremony ever. 

It’s fitting that Paris itself will be the ceremony’s stage, as plenty of the Olympic events will take place in iconic spots across the city too. The Seine will host open-water swimming and triathlon events; beach volleyball will be in the Place du Trocadéro; and sports like BMX, breakdancing and skateboarding will all take place at the Place de la Concorde.

The ceremony’s fine details are yet to be properly ironed out, especially when it comes to the monumental amount of security such an event would almost certainly require. And what if it rains, the British person inside us naturally asks? Well, it’s best not to think about it. Paris gets an average of around seven days of rainfall each July, so a washout isn’t exactly a stretch of the imagination.

In any case, Paris’s opening ceremony looks to stand in stark contrast to Tokyo’s delayed 2021 ceremony which, while very beautiful and engrossing, certainly lacked the feverish enthusiasm and mass excitement you’d get with a massive in-person crowd.

Looking at the image above (and hearing about the scale of the plans), Paris 2024 might – dare we say it – be even more of an occasion than London 2012. If the organisers can actually pull it off, that is. No pressure.

Now read about how Paris aims to become Europe’s greenest city by 2030.

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