Friday, January 26, 2024

2024 Summer Olympics in Paris: The planning, the challenges, and the future.

Today is the 6 month countdown to the Opening Ceremony of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. For those of you who have followed my journey through the last seven Olympic Games here in the blog, I am excited to share yet another experience with you all. And this one should be amazing!

As always, my goal is to share the behind-the-scenes of the Games as well as my daily photos and the stories behind the images.

We are now six months from the start of the Olympics, but the planning process has been going on for almost two years now. Let me tell you a little bit about that process and some of the challenges I have faced already.


The credentialing process is where it all starts, and the applications started in the middle of 2022. Each National Organizing Committee (NOC) gets a small number of credentials for the Olympics. As you can see from the chart above, there are numerous media credentials which can be applied for. As a photographer, I always apply for the EP level credential, which gives me access to all the venues. As it turns out, credentials for the Paris Olympics are in even higher demand than a normal Olympics. I am guessing that this is due to the fact that this is the first Olympics since 2018 where we will not be locked down with Covid restraints, but mostly because the Games are located in the amazing city of Paris. 

In February of 2023, I got the email approving my EP credential. That always puts a smile on my face.


Once I received word from the USOPC that I was getting my EP credential, the next step was to wait for the Paris Organizing Committee (POCOG) to contact me about housing. The weird thing was...I never got any email messages from them. Around the middle of last year, I reached out to them to see when the housing process would start. I was SHOCKED to hear that the process had started and ended already! Knowing that press housing (which is subsidized) was going to be in high demand, I started to panic. I reached out to the housing group and let them know that I was never informed of the housing options. After a month of stressing, they got back to me and said that they would let me know if anything opened up. I waited...and I waited...and then decided to work on a plan B. I researched the venue maps (above) and started reaching out to AirBnB places and other online options. I found some good places but they were all at least an hour away from the key venues. An hour commute here at home might be doable, but not at the Olympics when every minute counts.

About the same time that I was researching for other places to stay, the housing committee got back to me with some options. I had heard from my contacts at the USOPC that the housing options were not good. When I looked at the hotel options they gave me (in a reasonable price range), the hotels were really bad. Some of them had reviews that said "don't go out after 10pm as it is too dangerous", "most of the rooms have air conditioning that is broken" and one review showed the hotel with garbage piled up in the hallway. Yikes!

I knew that beggars can't be choosers, but I wrote back to them and asked if they had any other options. I ended up selecting a place that is within the price range, looks OK, and I am just going to hope that it is livable for 3 weeks. Heck, it has to be bigger than my hotel room in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics!


Once the housing crisis was solved, I knew that is was imperative to get flights booked as early as possible. I usually fly United Airlines, so I called them and got flights for the exact dates and times that I wanted. That was easier than I expected it to be.

Credential Processing

It had been nearly a year since my EP credential was approved and last month I received the final application forms and I had to submit my photo. Here is the headshot that I submitted. I know that I don't look happy, but just like with passport photos, we are not allowed to smile.

The Schedule

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already posted the daily competition schedule, for all the sports that will be happening over the 3 week time span. I will use this, as well as a more detailed schedule (when that becomes available) to plan my days. I will be contractually shooting for USA Water Polo (men and women), so those games will take a priority over the rest.

Opening Ceremony

For the first time ever in Olympic History, the Opening Ceremony will not be held in an arena. Instead, each team will be floating down the Seine River on a barge. I have heard that there will be more than 160 boats floating along the route. I am VERY excited about this since it gives me a chance to capture the ceremony with a totally different look.

This is an artist's rendering of what it might look like. 

From what I have heard, they are going to give away free access to the public along this floating parade route. This is very exciting, but also means that the crowds in and out of the area are going to be massive.  The big question for me is...will I be able to get a photo position with the Eiffel Tower in the background (which is what I really want)? 


You would think that I would have a signed contract with the team well before going through this whole process, but that is not the case. Since I have worked with the team for so many years, and I have their word that we are working together once again, the contract process usually comes towards the end for me. We just signed the contract about a week ago. I should mention that I make this really easy for the team since I do not do this for the money. I do this for the love of doing it!


For those of you photography enthusiasts, I know what you want to ask me right now. You want to know what camera equipment I will be using in Paris. I can tell you this: I will be using Canon cameras and lenses. Which ones? I am not sure yet. But stay tuned and I will tell you more when I can. How is that for a tease?

Moving forward

We are officially 181 days until the Games begin, and I promise to keep you all up to date as the final plans come together. And of course, I will be blogging daily from Paris, showing what I photographed and sharing the crazy stories as they unfold. To get my blog posts sent directly to your email, click HERE to subscribe now. 


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OnlyInCA said...

Looking forward to following your adventure again! Hope it is not as stressful as the last Oly you photographed! Can't wait to hear the camera details. . .

Ralph Hightower said...

Canon EOS R1 NDA: Received and signed

Jeff S said...

Love following you commentaries of your Olympic adventures!

Good health and safe travels!


The "other" Jeff

Ralph Hightower said...

As the Canon R3 was available for Canon photographers at the Tokyo Olympics, it looks like the Canon R1 will get a photographic shakedown at the Paris Olympics. I just watched Tony Northrup talk about the probable R1 speciations, from Canon Rumors, on their Tony & Chelsea Northrup YouTube channel.