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Paris 2024: French towns say ‘non merci’ to Olympic torch relay over cost concerns

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Citing costs, departments across France have turned down the chance to be in the world’s spotlight. So, how much are they being asked to pay and is it worth it?

The eyes of the world will turn to France in July 2024, as the summer Olympic Games begins with a spectacular opening ceremony on the River Seine.

Before that, the Olympic torch embarks on a two-month journey around the country, after criss-crossing the globe on its way from Mount Olympus in Greece, to the French capital.

But this Olympic tradition is turning into a headache for organisers, with towns and cities saying a polite ‘no merci’ to a visit from the Olympic flame torch relay, citing the high costs involved.

Departments have been asked to fork out €150,000 – amounting to €180,000 with taxes included.

At least 10 of France’s 96 mainland departments – the administrative rung below the regional level – have formerly declared that they won’t be hosting the torch.

Sparking tensions
Citizens of the Rhône department in southeastern France – where the country’s third largest city Lyon is located – will not be catching a glimpse of the torch.

It’s a cause for frustration for some.

In a statement released by the Rhône branch of Emmanuel Macron’s youth supporters, ‘Les Jeunes avec Macron’, the department garnered criticism for a decision supposedly made on environmental grounds.

“The narrow-mindedness of environmentalists who confuse the fight against global warming with an environmentalist puritanism that would ban all forms of festive spirit”.

However, these are not the reasons that the department and city stated.

“Asking for 180,000 euros from each department does not make any sense. Some departments are smaller and others are less robust. It would have been more logical for regions to organise financing of the torches at the regional level in order to ensure territorial equity”, stated Bruno Bernard, President of the Lyon Metropole.

“We would naturally have liked to host the flame, however the economic conditions required by the Olympic Committee – 180 000 euros for an activity which lasts only one day, seem unreasonable in terms of public action”, he added.

Prioritising local sport
Christophe Guilloteau, President of the Rhône region spoke out against hosting the flame as early as January 2022.

He told Euronews “on top of this expense there is the cost of the activities which will compliment the torch’s relay. The Rhône Department would rather invest in local events, and support the sports industry on our territory.”

The departments of les Vosges, la Meurthe-et-Moselle, l’Indre-et-Loire, le Lot-et-Garonne, la Creuse, la Haute-Loire et la Haute-Vienne, la Loire-Atlantique, les Côtes-d’Armor et l’Orne have all declared they will not be hosting the flame.

“This sum is more than of my subsidies to fund sport events over the whole year”, Ludovic Gouyette, vice-president of the Côtes-d’Armor department told France Bleu Armorique. The department is located in northern Britanny.

Why this cost?
The organising committee for the Paris 2024 Olympics, Cojo, said a “very large majority of departments have already welcomed” the flame, adding that the €150,000 ensures that the torch crosses “the maximum number of territories” on its way to Paris.

Cojo underlines that the torch’s relay is funded “for the most part by the committee and its partners”, stating that it will go ahead no matter what.

In January 2023, the French government announced that the part of public funding for the games would increase to €2.4 billion.

According to a study by the Paris 2024 Olympics could generate €10.7 billion in economic benefits and produce 250,000 jobs.

However, the cost of hosting the Olympic Games has skyrocketed in recent years. As fewer and fewer countries bid to host the huge multi-sport event, the International Olympic Committee has called for a reform of the process of selecting the host city.

Past glories
France has previously hosted the Olympic games on five occasions – and twice to date in Paris.

Chamonix, located in the Haute-Savoie department will be hosting the flame: a moment in history as the ceremony will take place 100 years on from the Chamonix 1924 Olympics.

The cities of Grenoble and Albertville also hosted the winter games in 1992 and 1968 – but they won’t be reviving past glories. Located in the Savoie and Isere departments, local leaders once again chose to pass on the chance of hosting the flame.

“Hosting the Tour de France has already allowed to gain more visibility from the population”, at “a must lower cost”, stated Frédéric Burnier Framboret, Mayor Albertville in an interview with l’Equipe.

However, the organisers insist that the relay will “offer a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on the regions of France, its heritage and savoir-faire… villages and iconic locations will benefit from the focus of the Games to reveal themselves to the world.”

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Nigerian League

Sporting Lagos to appoint Biffo as new head coach

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Sporting Lagos are set to appoint Abdullahi Biffo as their new head coach. Biffo will take charge from Paul Offor who was sacked on Wednesday night.

Sporting Lagos are set to appoint Abdullahi Biffo as their new head coach.

Biffo will take charge from Paul Offor who was sacked on Wednesday night.

The experienced tactician has managed a number of top sides in the Nigeria Premier Football League.

He once managed Kwara United, Katsina United and Niger Tornadoes in the top-flight.

The gaffer is expected to help improve the fortune of the modest side.

Sporting Lagos have moved to 11th position on the table following an improved performance in the second half of the season.

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Nigerian League

Sporting Lagos sack head coach Paul Offor

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Nigeria Premier Football League side, Sporting Lagos have parted ways with head coach Paul Offor. Offor was sacked

Nigeria Premier Football League side, Sporting Lagos have parted ways with head coach Paul Offor.

Offor was sacked following his side’s struggles in the NPFL.

The tactician’s departure was confirmed on the club’s X handle.

The statement reads “Sporting Lagos announces the departure of head Coach Paul Offor,”

“Coach Paul brought top-flight football back to our city and gave us the first piece of silverware in our history.

“Thank you for everything, coach Paul. We wish you the very best in your future endeavours.”

Sporting Lagos have penciled down former Kwara United coach Abdullahi Biffo as his possible replacement.

They occupy 11th position on the NPFL table with 38 points.

Sporting Lagos have recorded 10 wins, eight draws and 12 defeats in the current campaign.

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Nigerian League

Saviour relishes Rangers’ derby victory over Abia Warriors

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Rangers midfielder Isaac Saviour has expressed his excitement after scoring in the club’s oriental derby win against Abia Warriors.

Rangers midfielder Isaac Saviour has expressed his excitement after scoring in the club’s oriental derby win against Abia Warriors.

Saviour opened scoring for the Flying Antelopes in their 3-2 win at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium on Tuesday.

Kazeem Ogunleye and Chidozie Okorie were also on target for Rangers.

He revealed his plans to maintain his impressive performance for Rangers in subsequent games.

Saviour has netted three times in this campaign.

“I feel very excited,” he stated to the club’s media.

“I think that for some time I was out injured and coming back and got a chance to start a game and score against Katsina, I had it in mind that I had to continue scoring if at all, I wanted to make an instant impact in my team.

“I am very happy scoring against Abia Warriors after scoring in Katsina and I hope it goes on like that.

“It is always a joy to be selected as the man of the match and I feel excited and hopefully, more will come.”

Saviour will hope to add to his goal tally when Rangers battle Rivers United in their next league match this weekend.

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