The stadium that was the main site for the 1924 Paris Olympics is ready, a century later, to welcome hundreds of participants and tens of thousands of spectators for next year’s Summer Olympic Games in the French capital. The Yves-du-Manoir stadium, in the northwestern Paris suburb of Colombes, became on Monday the first sporting venue to be formally handed over by developers to local authorities ahead of the Games. It will host the competitions in field hockey, a sport which may not be the number one activity in France but has a huge following in northern Europe and Asia, in particular India.
The stadium was specially renovated for the 1924 Paris Games, when it hosted the opening ceremony, athletics and other sports ranging from equestrian to gymnastics.
During those Games it was the scene of the epic sprint races involving British athletes Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, famously portrayed in the 1981 film “Chariots of Fire”.
According to the organisers, it will be the only 2024 Olympic venue to be hosting the Games for a second time.
It also hosted the 1938 World Cup football final, where Italy beat Hungary, and had its capacity expanded to 60,000 after the end of World War II.
But the opening of the Parc des Princes stadium in 1972 in the west of Paris signalled its decline and three of the four stands were demolished at the end of last century.
It now stands in a location that belies the stadium’s mythical status, squeezed between 15-storey buildings and a motorway.
Its selection to host the field hockey events in 2024 has given the stadium a new lease of life.
Two years of work enabled the historic stand, with a capacity of 6,000 seats, to be brought up to standard and a new stand of 1,000 seats to be built as well as training pitches for hockey and other sports.~CHECK~
Temporary stands to be installed between February and April will bring the total capacity to 13,500 seats, said Edouard Donnelly, head of operations at Olympics organising committee COJO.
The total cost of the work amounted to 101 million euros ($110 million) — 87.4 million financed by the local authorities and the remaining 13.6 million from Solideo, the public establishment responsible for delivering the Olympic building works.
On Monday, construction group Leon Grosse, which carried out the renovations, symbolically handed over the keys to the new complex to its owner, France’s Hauts-de-Seine department.~CHECK~
Marc Guillaume, the top state-appointed official for the Paris region, said the handover was just the first of several.
There would be “many other ceremonies of this nature in the coming weeks”, he said.
The stadium is named after French rugby player Yves du Manor, who died in a plane crash in 1928, aged 23.
“The Olympics were an opportunity to completely renovate this stadium,” said the head of the Hauts-de Seine department, Georges Siffredi.
It will host the men’s and women’s Olympic hockey tournaments between July 27 and August 9.
Some 300,000 spectators are expected to attend over the fortnight of competition, said COJO head Donnelly.
Other facilities will be declared ready during the first months of 2024.
The Arena Porte de la Chapelle, which will host badminton events, is to be handed over in January, the Olympic village in February and the aquatics centre at the end of March.
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