Friday marked Olympic Day, an event held annually on June 23 to commemorate the 1894 birth of the modern Olympic Games, and is celebrated by millions of people in more than 160 countries.
This year, with Los Angeles and Paris in the homestretch of their 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bids, the two bidding nations are out to set an example of what might come if they are chosen to host in 2024, or possibly in 2028 if the IOC elects both cities as they have suggested they might do.
With a mission to cultivate fitness, well-being, culture and education, Olympic Day also helps to promote the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect, as well as the three pillars of Olympic Day: move, learn and discover.
The heart of Paris has been transformed into a gigantic sports park to celebrate the day and support the city’s Olympic candidature.
Starting Friday and for two days, the public will have the chance to enjoy their favourite sports in a massive sport park stretching from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame along the River Seine The giant celebration zone will offer visitors a chance to sample more than 30 disciplines set against Paris’ iconic landmarks.
A floating athletics track was installed on the Seine, and on Friday it featured a 100m race event. Other attractions included sports fields on the lawn of Les Invalides, trampolines in the Petit Palais, a high diving board on Pont Alexander III, a cycle track in Paris city centre, and a climbing wall on the Pavillon de l’Arsenal.
Up to 300 kayakers, led by Paris 2024 Co-Chair and triple Olympic canoe champion Tony Estanguet, formed a giant flotilla which traveled along the Seine to the floating track where the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, helped inaugurate the festival.
The Paris celebration wraps up Saturday with a “2024 km for Paris” event that will include cyclists, equestrian riders and runners at Les Invalides for a “grand finale” in the colours of the bid.
French Sport Minister Laura Flessel said “all of France is mobilized behind the candidature of Paris 2024. Olympic Day will be a unique opportunity for the people of France to sample the spectacle and magic of Paris Olympic Park.”
In Los Angeles where the U.S. flagship Olympic Day celebration is taking place to promote the LA 2024 bid, 500 young athletes are participating in eight Olympic and Paralympic sport clinics, including fencing, gymnastics, sitting volleyball, rugby, table tennis, team handball, track and field, and volleyball. The event, hosted by the bid, will be hosted at Will Rogers State Beach.
The LA event only headlines the United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) record-setting effort to inspire 2,400 events scheduled in 1,600 communities nationwide, with nearly 600,000 people engaged in celebration of the Olympic and Paralympic movements.
“LA 2024 believes in the power of the Olympic values to unite our communities and to encourage youth around the world to play sports and pursue active lives,” LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman said Friday.
“It makes me very proud to know that hundreds of thousands of people around the nation are following LA’s lead today in celebrating the power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Days like today boost our belief that LA 2024 is the perfect partner to help the IOC strengthen and spread Olympic values in the U.S. and worldwide.”
Paris and Los Angeles are the only remaining cities in the running to host the 2024 Olympic Games, and an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board recommendation may make it possible for the losing city to be offered the 2028 Olympic Games instead.
The IOC will allocate the Games at a meeting in Lima, Peru September 13.