Commentary: Will French grouchiness snuff out the Olympics flame?


There are real questions over whether France will succeed at hosting the Games, given infrastructure strains and terrorism risks, but singers and posters certainly are not among the core issues.

Admittedly, some challenges will be more acute in Paris because of local culture, geopolitics and the bold choice to hold competitions at still-unbuilt, temporary venues in the city centre. 

Public sector unions from rail workers to museum staff are threatening strikes – France’s true Olympics sport – to get compensation for working through their sacrosanct summer holidays. The terror alert level was again raised in March.

Since swathes of the capital will be closed to car traffic and public transport crowded, officials have set up an advertising campaign and website with the slogan “Anticiper les Jeux” (Prepare for the Games). Users can input their itinerary and see how it will be affected. While practical, the whole thing seems designed to suck out all enthusiasm by focusing only on disruption.

At a recent press event, city officials gave an upbeat inventory of how preparations were on track – from adding 10,000 extra bikes for rent to finalising a clean-up effort to be able to host swimming events in the Seine. 

But what was the strategy for creating joy around the Games, I asked. The city official paused and responded with a wry smile: Lots of really nice French wine.

SOURCE: CNA ( RSS Latest News   (go to source)
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