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Paris 2024: We are ready, declares the city's mayor Anne Hidalgo. A year prior to an event that is poised to depict a united France. A temporary truce has been declared. France holds its breath in hopes that, as the Summer Games 2024 commences in a year's time, tranquillity will prevail. The disturbances that arose earlier this summer in the banlieue the diverse. Underprivileged urban outskirts inhabited by generations of immigrants from the Maghreb. Sub-Saharan Africa coupled with a season of protests against pension reform, has served as a wake-up call.

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The concern looms that upheavals like those that have triggered turmoil within the nation. Recent months or those reminiscent of the Yellow Vest protest movement. Five years ago could erupt during the Paris Olympics 2024. Potentially tarnishing an event that should project an impression of a potent. Unified France during a period of societal divisions and apprehensions of economic decline.

We are prepared, asserts Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist mayor of Paris, in mid-June. She conveys her confidence just as her guests, including multiple correspondents and an EL PAÍS journalist. Settle in at the Hôtel de Ville, the central office of Paris City Hall. With slightly over a year remaining until the opening ceremony on July 26, 2024. Hidalgo radiates assurance, making her conviction evident from the outset.

Countdown to Paris 2024: Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Optimism

I recall Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio, and host of the 2016 Games, telling me. That the most perilous year was the one preceding the Games, she elucidates. The lesson I gleaned from that was the necessity of being prepared a year prior. She proceeds to provide a cascade of statistics regarding infrastructure. Security, transportation, and the inaugural ceremony are set to take place not within a stadium, but on the Seine River. All is set, or nearly so.

However, a few days subsequent to this conversation, a police officer shoots a teenager on the outskirts of Paris. Leading to the teenager's demise. This incident triggers violence in the banlieues. A shadow of doubt now hangs over the Olympic Games. The unrest begins on June 27 and, while brief, proves intense. With the deployment of 45,000 police and gendarmes, the order was reinstated in less than a week. The turmoil appears distant already.

There exist two variations of France, reflects essayist Dominique Moïsi, author of The Geopolitics of Emotion. “One has recently been evident, celebrating July 14, content with its global standing. The other version depicts individuals gripped by fury and resentment. However, he appends My intuition tells me that France is thoroughly equipped to host the Games. The French populace will exhibit fervour and pride in welcoming them to Paris. A poll conducted by the Harris Institute reveals that 72% of French citizens endorse Paris as the host city for the Games. Another poll by the Odoxa Institute places the support at 59%.

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France Olympic: Balancing Transformation and Challenges for the Ecologically Conscious Capital

In contrast to the case of Barcelona in 1992, these Olympics will not enact a transformative impact on the city. There will be no structures or emblems altering the city's identity, such as the Arc de La Défense. Nevertheless, they will expedite ongoing transformations aimed at converting Paris into an ecologically conscious capital. Furthermore, they are expected to contribute to the enhancement of neighbourhoods, including those where disturbances have occurred.

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Adjacent to the almost-prepared Olympic City, in the Saint-Denis district, one can witness the conversion of former industrial sites into new constructions. We are enhancing these zones somewhat,” explains a guide to visitors from a construction firm. Even though it's referred to as Saint-Denis, this is still Paris!

However, what if, prior to or during the event, images of burning vehicles, demonstrators besieging police stations and municipal buildings, vandalism of schools and libraries, and looting of shopping centres were to be broadcast globally? According to the national newspaper, Le Monde: We mustn't take for granted the interlude of national harmony during the Games.

Olivia Grégoire, Minister of Trade and Tourism, remarks to EL PAÍS in the subsequent days, I have no apprehensions. She highlights that the riots in London during 2011 didn't impede the success of the subsequent year's Games. Mayor Hidalgo and her advisors convey a similar sentiment. I hope for a more serene atmosphere in a year's time, but we are preparing for any eventualities, remarks Pierre Rabadan, deputy mayor overseeing the Olympics. Concurrently, Emmanuel Grégoire, responsible for urban planning, states: A tradition of Olympic truces exists, and this interim period is indispensable.

Paris Olympic 2024: Uniting a Nation Amidst Challenges and Transformation

When Hidalgo assumed the role of mayor in 2014, she hesitated regarding another bid for the Games following the failure of Paris' 2012 endeavour, which London secured. The current bid began taking shape in 2015, the year of the Islamist assaults against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, and the attacks on the Bataclan theatre, sidewalk cafes in eastern Paris, and the sports stadium, the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, which hosted the 2022 Champions League final and is set to host the Olympics next summer.

At that time, what alarmed me was hearing young individuals, even children, asserting that the terrorists were heroes and blaming Charlie Hebdo for an excess of freedom of expression, recounts Hidalgo. I heard it! And I thought to myself: This is far from ideal. We need something to provide perspective, to invigorate the youth, and the nation, and the Games can be that unifying force. I also pondered: There are individuals, there are children, residing in France, yet unaware of their surroundings.' Perhaps the Games can facilitate a collective comprehension of our location.

Could the Games truly become this unifying episode? Yes. My philosophy doesn't involve disregarding challenges. The disturbances within the nation are a reality I don't ignore, responds Hidalgo. I am not naive. According to Hidalgo, the Games should serve as an occasion for the expressions of the French populace and the celebration of the event. It embodies values and a philosophy she adds. It's beyond mere festivities or a profit-generating mechanism. This alters the essence of the Games: for Paris, there's no other way.

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France Olympic: A Unifying Journey of Resilience and Hope

Hidalgo, born into a Spanish family of emigrants subject to Francoist repercussions, adds: The fact that I am the mayor of Paris and hold dual nationality holds significance at a juncture when populists arrogate to themselves the authority to determine who should belong and who should not. We represent a wholly diverse populace, proud of our history.

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Should all proceed according to plan, Paris 2024 could signify the conclusion of a challenging decade. It might also rejuvenate the political prospects of Hidalgo, who suffered a significant defeat in the 2022 presidential election, as well as those of French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron, ineligible for re-election, could conclude his term and potentially mark its conclusion with a soft power achievement in the form of the Olympics.

Examining history, Japan's resurgence on the global stage followed the Tokyo Games in 1964, and the Beijing Games held great importance for China in 2008, notes Moisi. The Olympic Games possess a tendency to signify a new commencement or reinforce prevailing circumstances. As the countdown to Olympic Paris 2024 continues, the city's preparations remain steadfast. The culmination of a complex journey is on the horizon. The symbolism of unity and resilience lies at the core of the event. It's an opportunity for France to display its strength and tenacity in the face of challenges.

Mayor Hidalgo's determination is palpable as she navigates through the intricate interplay of societal dynamics. The task at hand involves more than logistical and infrastructural arrangements. It encompasses the aspirations and apprehensions of a diverse population. The Games offer a platform for voices to be heard, for dreams to be realized, and for a moment of collective pride.

Olympic 2024: Balancing Hope, Uncertainty, and Transformation on the Global Stage

Yet, as the date approaches, uncertainties linger. The spectre of past unrest casts a shadow over the grandeur of the event. Will the unity that accompanies the Games truly prevail, or will it merely be a temporary respite? The paradox of hosting the Olympics during a time of national turmoil underscores the complexity of the endeavour. The potential for positive change stands alongside the risk of amplified discord.

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As the world watches, the success of Paris 2024 hinges not only on the flawless execution of competitions and ceremonies but on the intangible impact it leaves behind. The imprint it makes on the hearts and minds of people, both in France and across the globe, will be its true legacy. It's a reminder that the Olympics are not confined to the confines of a stadium; they reverberate through the shared consciousness of humanity.

So, will Paris 2024 be the beacon of unity that France yearns for? Will it transcend the challenges that have marked its path? The answer lies in the unfolding narrative of the months to come. As history has shown, the Olympic Games have an uncanny ability to capture the essence of an era and define it for generations to come. And as the world converges on Paris, the city prepares to unveil its story, its struggles, and its hopes, on the grandest stage of all.

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