This is a new collateral effect of the 2024 Olympics. Other sporting events planned at Olympic venues sometimes have to bow to the imperatives of organizing the high mass of world sport. The latest hazard: the semi-finals of the France rugby championship next season, scheduled for the weekend of 21 and 22 June 2024, will not be able to take place at the Decathlon Arena - Pierre-Mauroy stadium, in Lille.
This festive event, which brings together over two days and two matches the supporters of the four teams qualified in the last four of the Top 14, traditionally takes place in the same city, which vibrates for rugby for 48 hours. The 2023 semi-finals will take place in San Sebastian, Spain, this Friday (Toulouse-Racing 92) and Saturday (La Rochelle - Bordeaux-Bègles).
For 2024, Lille was chosen 3 years ago. But the National Rugby League, which organizes the event, will have to give up. The news will be made official soon. The NRL has also started looking for a fallback stage. Bordeaux, which is due to host the 2025 semi-finals, and Marseille, which will host the 14 Top 2024 final, were surveyed.
Paris 2024 needs the stadium 15 days earlier than planned
Why does the NRL have to give up these semi-finals in Lille? Because Paris 2024, which organizes the basketball qualifying events and the handball finals in this stadium, from July 26 to August 11, 2024, will finally need the Decathlon Arena earlier than expected. Fifteen days, exactly. The organizing committee of the Games will have to take possession of it on June 10, instead of June 25, to bring the venue up to the standards of international basketball events (ventilation, size of media access, in particular).
The arrival of basketball in Lille, definitively confirmed last March, has increased the constraints on the Pierre-Mauroy stadium to bring it up to Olympic standards. Negotiations with the NRL, the Métropole de Lille, the stadium operator and Paris 2024 began at that time. And there was no other way out than to relocate the Top 14 semifinals scheduled for the weekend of June 22, a month before the first basketball game of the Olympic tournament.
The Stade de France suffered the same fate as the Pierre-Mauroy stadium. Paris 2024 will also have to take possession of the Saint-Denis enclosure earlier, from the beginning of 2024, to do some work. Consequence: the Blues of football will have to find other stadiums for their spring matches. And the XV of France will have to play its home matches of the Six Nations Tournament 2024, next February and March, in Marseille (against Ireland) and Lyon (against England). Les Bleus du rugby will also receive Italy... in Lille. If it lost the semi-finals of the Top 14 because of the Olympics, the public of the Pierre-Mauroy stadium will still have earned its dose of rugby in 2024.