Olympic Day 2017: The day that Paris became an Olympic Park

As part of Paris’ bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games, it would be fair to describe June 23 and June 24 2017 as special events. These were the dates in which Paris offered the public the largest ever sports park based in a major city and really strengthened its push to hold one of sport’s greatest events.


What was the Olympic Day?

The idea of Olympic Day is simple; it aims to introduce the maximum amount of people to a variety of sports. Naturally, in keeping with the Olympics, all of the events are competed there or as a Paralympic sport. This means that many sports which are not regarded as mainstream, or potentially even just not accessible for the masses, are included.

However, it’s not just sport that’s focused on. While the public receive the opportunity to attend various sporting demonstrations, and maybe even introduce themselves to the athletes who compete for their country, there is more to this day than immediately meets the eye. It’s also the chance to get involved in various cultural workshops, with many surrounding craft.

There was a slight deviation to the most recent Olympic Day – with this going against history and actually lasting for two days. The reason for this was to encourage the local people, and potentially those watching from afar, what it would be really like for Paris to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024.


Is there any history behind Olympic Days?

While a lot of emphasis was placed on this particular Olympic Day, in truth it’s not the first that has donned the city.

In fact, you have to turn back the clock over 100 years to see when the first one of these days was held. Not only this, but it isn’t just France that takes part. In 1895, Baron Pierre de Coubertin formed the International Olympic Committee and this initiated the start of Olympic Day. It occurs every June 23 although as we’ve already disclosed, this was extended to June 24 in a bid to enhance France’s campaign.


What sort of activities were available?

While we have mulled over some of the activities that tend to form the basis of Olympic Day, it’s worth taking a look at some of the main ones which occurred in France.

There were in fact 30 different sporting disciplines held across various locations and if we were to hone in on some of the main ones, they would include the following:

  • On the lawns of Les Invalides the public could participate or watch various team sports.
  • The floating athletics track was seen as one of the key points of the day, with this being situated between Pont Alexandre III and Pont des Invalides.
  • The Place de la Concorde temporarily became an outdoor velodrome.
  • A climbing wall was erected at the Pavillion de l’Arsenal.
  • There was a diving board over Pont Alexandre III.

It would be fair to say that the event, and all of the activities that we’ve just mentioned, opened in emphatic fashion as well.

Starting on the Friday, somewhere between 150 and 300 kayakers departed from the Stade de France and travelled to the floating athletics track. These kayakers were led by Tony Estanguet, who happens to be the co-chairperson of Paris 2024, as well as being a household name in France thanks to his exploits in past Olympics where he picked up medals in canoeing. Over the course of the journey various other influential stakeholders became involved, with the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo and the president of CNOSF, Denis Masseglia, arriving to accompany the kayakers.

On the Saturday, a different type of major event was held. This particular one required the participation of thousands of sportspeople, both professionals and amateurs. They were all taking part in the Paris 2024km and as the name suggests, this involved a route of the above length being shared by everyone. Horse riders rode 20km of the journey, cyclists traveled for 527km, while the runners contributed 1477km. The route wasn’t singular either – it involved the runners arriving from different corners of the city. The result of this was that everyone would conclude at Les Invalides for the grand finale – which then utilized the Olympic bid colors to strengthen the country’s message.


What did officials say about the day?

Unsurprisingly, the message from officials was very much what we have reported through the course of this page.

The Minister of Sport, Laura Flessel, was quick to announce that this was an opportunity for the people of France to show how the country can deal with such a major event. It was also an opportunity to encourage the passion which is a necessity whenever bidding for an event of this magnitude.


A closing summary on Olympic Day in Paris

It would be fair to say that the French certainly went to great lengths to ensure that their Olympic Day went above and beyond previous events.

The carrot for the country was obviously the potential of hosting a future Olympic Games – but most residents, and visitors of the city at the time, would agree that it was a special day regardless of these motives. The activities not only presented unique opportunities to all that attended, but it also showcased some of the best facilities that are in offer in the city of Paris.