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White deaths, illegal workers and skyrocketing costs: Paris 2024 is born badly

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White deaths, illegal workers and skyrocketing costs: Paris 2024 is born badly

In France, a campaign to boycott the World Cup in Qatar is underway, as a sign of protest against the harsh working conditions of the workers who built the stadiums. But, in reality, what is happening in Paris, with starvation wages and no health coverage for the workers who work on the construction site of the Olympic Village, is perhaps worse

No protections, no health coverage, no holidays, no documents, starvation wages, obviously off the books and four dead. Welcome to Qatar, the opponents of the World Cup underway in the Middle East would say. Instead it is about the living and working conditions of workers employed on the construction sites of Paris 2024, the Olympics that will be organized in the French capital which is boycotting the FIFA tournament.


In fact, the municipality of Paris has chosen not to set up giant screens for the fans. A frontal stance, also shared by other large French cities, to denounce the treatment reserved for foreign workers employed for the construction of stadiums and infrastructures in and around Doha. Where, according to various NGOs, there would have been 6,500 dead. No more than 500 according to local authorities.


The boycott has so far not been followed up on a private level: for France’s matches, the bars in the capital are often full, and television audiences are on average better than those of 2018. But it is above all the investigation that denies credibility to the Paris posture opened in June by the Bobigny prosecutor’s office to shed light on the working conditions of the workers at the Olympic Village construction site, on the outskirts of the capital. And also the journalistic ones that have brought to light a system of exploitation by subcontractor companies that use clandestine labour.

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The newspapers Le Monde and Libération in particular speak of sans-papier used in many construction sites. Starting with the Athletes’ Village where various serious accidents have occurred in recent months, but also with regard to the future training center for the water polo teams. These are workers who work without a contract, deprived of any social and health coverage, assigned to dig by hand with shovels or to carry sacks of cement on their shoulders, without adequate protection, underpaid, without residence permits. And those who fall ill lose their jobs, replaced by other shadow workers. A setback for a sporting event presented as exemplary by organizers and authorities, who instead find themselves having to deal with a system of companies which are entrusted with the work to reduce personnel costs and increase profits.


In the Paris region, 800 construction sites linked to the Olympics have been started. Up to September, 70 accidents have been recorded, of which ten were serious. According to the unions, there are at least four deaths on one of the subway lines planned for the 2024 Games. The Olympics will cost 8 billion euros, according to the latest updated budget: an increase of 400 million compared to the initial forecasts. In France, according to the unions, at least one person dies every day in the workplace.

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