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Three delayed Paris Olympics sites being tracked: organisers

Three Paris Olympics sites face slight delays and are being monitored, but all the sporting infrastructure is expected to be delivered on time for the start of the Games in July, the event’s top infrastructure official said Wednesday.

Construction of one section of the athletes’ village is running several weeks behind schedule, as is the renovation of the Grand Palais monument in central Paris that will host the fencing, the head of the Paris Olympics infrastructure body, Solideo, said.

A third site — the Colombes swimming pool set to be used for training in northern Paris — is not expected to be finished until June and is under observation. 

“There are three sites out of 70 that are being monitored, without the schedule being at risk,” Nicolas Ferrand told a hearing of the French Senate’s sports commission.

“Overall, the works are totally on time and they are within the budget given to us, and with the levels of ambition that were set,” he added.

Contractors are also racing to finish a crucial metro line extension in north and south Paris ahead of the start of the sporting extravaganza, but organisers remain confident that everything will be concluded in time.

Michel Cadot, who heads a Games co-ordination committee and is head of the National Sports Agency, also reassured the Senate committee the Games would be “perfectly on time and within budget.”

The opening ceremony on July 26, which is set to see the teams sail down the river Seine in central Paris, is still being finalised.

Cadot said that the number of spectators was still under discussion with a reduction of 10-15 percent being envisaged, he said.

Organisers had initially announced plans for 600,000 people to attend in person — most of them for free — but the latest estimate is for 500,000, according to police and political sources.

The idea for the open-air ceremony — the first time the parade will take place outside the athletics stadium in Olympics history — has been dogged by criticism since its inception because of security concerns. 

Cadot said that the ceremony could not be shifted to the athletics stadium as a “plan B” because it would be in use for rugby at the time. 

Contingency plans entailed an “adaptation of the concept on the Seine”, he said, which media reports have speculated could entail athletes being withdrawn if the risk of a terror attack was considered to be too high. 

He also expressed confidence the Seine could be used for the open-water swimming and triathlon events as efforts continue to clean up the waterway.

Work is “advancing very well with remarkable results that are already visible,” he told the senators.

Poor water quality forced the cancellation of three swimming test events last July and August.

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