French police raid 2024 Paris Olympics headquarters in corruption probe

Raids related to preliminary corruption investigation launched in 2017

Paris Olympics 2024 (File) The Olympic rings are set up in Paris, France | AP

French police conducted searches at the offices of 2024 Paris Olympics following charges of corruption. According to reports, the raids were conducted as part of investigations into alleged embezzlement of public funds and favouritism. 

The searches were ordered by the French national financial prosecutor’s office over corruption charges. The Guardian quoting the prosecutor's office reported, “The Paris 2024 headquarters in Saint-Denis, a suburb to the north of Paris, were raided on Tuesday as part of a preliminary investigation launched in 2017 into contracts made by the summer Games’ organising committee.”

The Paris organising committee said in a statement that a search was underway at their headquarters in the suburb of Saint-Denis, and that "Paris 2024 is cooperating with the investigators to facilitate their investigations. It would not comment further.”

Paris becomes the third straight Summer Games organiser implicated in investigations led by anti-corruption authorities in the French capital.

Vote-buying allegations linked to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the Tokyo Games in 2021 previously removed several members of the International Olympic Committee from that organisation.

An official with the financial prosecutor's office said on Tuesday the searches are linked to two preliminary investigations related to the Paris Olympics that had not previously been made public. The official was not authorised to be publicly named according to prosecutor's office policy.

According to Le Monde newspaper, raids also took place at the offices of the public body in charge of Olympic infrastructure, and at the headquarters of several companies and consultants linked to the organisation of the games. 

One of the probes was opened in 2017 the year Paris was picked by the IOC as the 2024 host into suspected embezzlement of public funds and favouritism, and concerns about an unspecified contract reached by Paris organisers, the prosecutor's office said.

The other was opened in 2022 following an audit by the French Anti-corruption Agency. The prosecutor's office said that case targets suspected conflict of interest and favouritism involving several contracts reached by the organising committee and Solideo, the company in charge of Olympic facilities.

The Paris Olympics is scheduled to be held between July 26 and August 11 in 2024. The Paralympic Games would take place between August 28 and September 6. 

The raids unfolded at the same time as the IOC executive board began a two-day meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, expecting to praise Paris organisers for their progress.

IOC president Thomas Bach told reporters early Monday the meeting "of course will be about Paris, where we have some good news after the visit of the coordination mission and after my visit to France, to President Macron, and also the organising committee.”

The IOC said it expected to release a statement on Tuesday about the raids in Paris ahead of a previously scheduled online news briefing once its meeting closed for the day.

While French sports have triumphed on the fields of play, led notably by victory in the 2018 soccer World Cup, they've been rocked by multiple leadership changes in the run-up to the Paris Olympics.

(With PTI inputs.)

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