Paris ready to welcome Europe's best athletes in 2020

Steeplechasers at the Amsterdam 2016 European Athletics Championships
European Athletics

The great adventure between athletics and France will soon witness a brand new episode.

For the first time since 1938, the European Athletics Championships will be hosted in 2020 in the French capital, at the Charléty Stadium. The event will take place after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, from Wednesday 26 to Sunday 30 August.

In 1938, Colombes played host to some 272 athletes, all male, from 23 nations, for the 2nd European Championships in history. In 2020, Charléty will welcome around 1400 athletes, representing 51 nations, for the 26th edition of the continental showcase.

The capacity of the Parisian arena, the venue for the 2007 IAAF Diamond League in the French capital, will be increased to 19,094 seats for the occasion, 15,680 of which will be reserved for the general public.

An estimated 1000 media are expected to attend, including 600 journalists, 300 photographers and 100 commentators.

The half marathon will be run through the heart of Paris, a large part of which will take place on the banks of the River Seine, with a start opposite the Eiffel Tower, passing the famous and historic Notre Dame cathedral, before finishing on the track of the Charléty Stadium.

A bid committee, Paris Athlé 2020, was formed in January 2017 by the French Athletics Federation (FFA), with the aim of securing the winning bid for the event.

Following the decision by European Athletics, on 28 April this year, to opt for the Parisian bid, an organising committee was created. André Giraud, president of the French Athletics Federation (FFA), is its Honorary Chairman. Pierre Weiss, former general secretary of the IAAF, will take up the position of president. Julien Mauriat, general manager of the FFA, is taking up the role of Executive Director.

The Paris Athlé 2020 association has designated an organising committee with, as a first step, two people dedicated to preparing the event full time: Souad Rochdi, Director of Communication and Marketing for the FFA, in the post of CEO of the organising committee, and Christophe Halleumieux, who was recruited in July 2017 as project leader, who is also in charge of relations with European Athletics.

In the future, others will join the Organizing Committee to bring it to about 40 people.

The organising committee for the European Championships 2020 also involves the public authorities, including the city of Paris, for matters related to the sites, promotion and safety, the Ile-de-France region, for event promotion; and the Ministry for Sports, for issues such as the reception of foreign delegations.

European Athletics has said that the French bid was selected thanks to Paris’ “ambitious and ecological application” and he Paris Athlé 2020 committee will endeavour to stick to its commitments, relying on the ‘Green Inspiration’ concept to put on an event with a minimal carbon footprint.

A prime example of this is the decision to use the highly accessible University Campus as the athlete’s village, which is just five minutes’ walk from the Charléty Stadium, a major first in the history of the European Athletics Championships.

Like Paris’ bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, the FFA has made the notion of heritage one of its priorities.

In the run-up to the event, an extensive educational programme aimed at youngsters will be rolled out on a national scale. It will place the emphasis on sporting values, the benefits of physical activity and healthy eating, as well as the appeal of joining an athletics club.

Finally, ticketing. The sale of seats will take place in three phases with an initial phase that will open in January 2018. This will be reserved for the ‘athletics family’, namely members of athletics clubs, including French clubs of course, as well as those from European Athletics' Member Federations.

In August 2018, some two years before the championships, the general public will be able to order tickets, albeit solely in the form of packages, for the five days of competition or for the final weekend.

Finally, a third phase of seat sales will commence in January 2019. It will comprise session tickets, as well as tourist packages which will include transport and accommodation.