Paralympians in the spotlight as Paris 2024 celebrates Olympic Day
The area near Stade de France was transformed into an open-air playground as Olympic Day participants got to try out 30 Olympic sports as well as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and boccia27 Jun 2022
Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024, tried out some Paralympic sports during Olympic Day celebrations in Paris on June 26.
By IPC and Paris 2024
The area around Stade de France was bustling on Sunday, 26 June as Olympic Day celebrations were held in the next Olympic and Paralympic Games host city.
Paralympic athletes featured prominently at the event while its tens of thousands of participants got the opportunity to discover several Paralympic sports.
“It is very important to educate children from an early age because they are the future generation. If they get this message of inclusivity from an early age, they can pass it on to others. And from there disability becomes a banality, like wearing prescription glasses," said Morgan Troussard, a member of the French men's sitting volleyball team who was at Stade de France for Olympic Day.
“We are athletes. We have athlete schedules with a very intense sports routine and we prepare for four years for the Paralympic Games, which are our own Olympic Games."
Sitting volleyball, boccia and wheelchair basketball were the Paralympic sports that event participants could try near the Stade de France in Seine-Saint-Denis.
The area was transformed into an open-air playground as more than 40,000 m2 of tracks and sports fields were set up outside the stadium. There were also more than 30 Olympic sports that people could try, as well as art performances and live music.
Multiple Olympic medallists attended the event along with eight French Paralympians. In addition to Troussard these included fellow sitting volleyball player Guillaume Ducrocq, wheelchair basketball players Mamady Traore and Sofyane Mehiaoui, Para swimmers Beatrice Hess and Charles Rozoy, and boccia player Sonia Heckel.
“For me, what is important is to show that we are, above all, athletes in wheelchairs rather than disabled people in sports wheelchairs,” Mehiaoui said. “There are kids, when they see me playing, they ask me, ‘But are you really disabled? But how do you do this?’ They realise the difficulty level and that it is a sport in its own right.”
“It is very important to be here and to be able to talk about our sport, to be able to show it,” Ducrocq agreed. “We are happy to make this discipline known. Moreover, we have the opportunity to participate in the Paris 20024 Paralympic Games, therefore, it is necessary that the discipline is known so that there will be people in the stands and spectators behind the screens.”
Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee, also attended the event.
Olympic Day festivities were previously held on the quays of the Seine and the Place de la Concorde, but in 2024 the organisers decided to engage as many people as possible and brought the event to Seine-Saint-Denis.
This location is also a key one for the upcoming Games. The department will host numerous Olympic and Paralympic sports, including Para athletics and Para cycling. It will also be the site of the Athletes’ Village.
After the Games, the Athletes’ Village and Media Village will be transformed into about 4,000 housing units while 20 local sports facilities will be renovated for use by the local community.