French police searched the Paris Olympic organizers’ headquarters on Tuesday as part of corruption investigations into contracts linked to the Games, according to prosecutors, the third straight time graft allegations have dogged a Summer Olympics.
The Paris organizing committee said in a statement that a search was carried out at its headquarters in the suburb of Saint-Denis and it was cooperating with investigators. It defended what it called “stringent procedures” around several hundred contracts it has awarded for the Games.
Tuesday’s search and other related raids were linked to two preliminary investigations of the Paris Olympics, according to an official with the financial prosecutor’s office, who was not authorized to be publicly named according to office policy. One probe was opened in 2017 — the year Paris was picked by the International Olympic Committee as the 2024 host — and the other began last year.
Corruption allegations have hung over the world’s biggest sporting event many times — from accusations surrounding how the Games were awarded to how contracts for construction, sponsorship and team services were handed out.
Accusations of vote buying linked to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the Tokyo Games in 2021 led to the removal of several members of the IOC. Scandals around the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games led to reforms that limited IOC members’ contact with candidate countries, though did not entirely remove the scope for corruption.
But Paris 2024 had gone to lengths to prove it would be different. The biggest event France is hosting in decades, the Games are being billed as a celebration of openness after two Olympics closed off by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as an example of democratic celebration after two World Cups tainted by human rights concerns in Qatar and Russia.
The organizers and Paris city hall have stressed a spirit of transparency and social justice — including planning an opening ceremony outdoors along the Seine River that will be free for up to half a million people. The Games are scheduled for July 26-Aug. 11, 2024.