Tuesday, May 28, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

New parents left angry as babies need Paris Olympics tickets

For the Euros and WC football, children of all ages require seats and many big clubs advise against bringing infants, but they are often welcome for free at sports such as rugby, cricket or athletics

Update : 15 Mar 2024, 05:37 PM

New parents heading to the Paris Olympics are calling for a ticketing rule change after discovering that their infants will be refused entry to venues unless they have own seats.

Margaux Giddings, a nurse from southwest France, bought her place for the gymnastics last year when they first went on sale and then fell pregnant, giving birth recently.

"I'm breastfeeding my daughter and she'll be five months' old at the time of the Games," the 33-year old from Bayonne told Agence France Presse. "It bothers me to leave her. I would have liked to take her with me in a sling or a baby carrier."

The policy for the Games, which run from July 26-August 11, states that "all spectators will need a valid ticket to access an Olympic venue, including children of all ages".

"I couldn't believe it when I found out that as soon as a baby is born it needs its own seat," said Tom Baker, a 37-year old ticket holder from London who is expecting his first child with his wife Kate in May.

He contacted Paris 2024 and was informed over the chat service that he should think about buying tickets for the Paralympics instead, where reduced prices for children are available - unlike for the Olympics.

"I said 'wait a second! We've bought tickets a year and a half before the event, we didn't even know that we were definitely going to be trying to get pregnant'," he told AFP.

"You couldn't have known about this and you can't solve it because the tickets are sold out."

He and Kate, plus her brother and mother, have spent around 3,000 euros (3,300 dollars) on seats for kayaking and beach volleyball among others.

The Paris organizing committee, which has already faced criticism over ticket prices, stood by its decision to require everyone including babes-in-arms to have their own place.

"In general, Paris 2024 does not recommend parents bring children under four years of age to competition sites," it said in a statement sent to AFP.

"Paris 2024 urges them to consider the environment of sports venues that may be unsuited to the welfare of young children."

In other sports, policies on infants vary.

For the Euros and World Cup football, children of all ages require seats and many big clubs advise against bringing infants, but they are often welcome for free at sports such as rugby, cricket or athletics. 

The London Olympics in 2012 began with same policy as Paris, but organizers changed it under public and media pressure.

Adrien Pol, a social worker from Liege in Belgium who is expecting his first child in June, is hoping for a similar U-turn.

"It's discriminatory against women," he said of the policy.

"We want to breastfeed so it will end up being my partner Marine who has to stay with our child. 

"She might have to make the sacrifice even though it's something we wanted to do together," he added.

A petition has been posted in French on change.org denouncing rules that are "unfair, against nature, and contrary to the spirit of Olympism", attracting around 170 signatures so far.

A discussion of the issue on the Reddit online chat platform led to many unsympathetic comments urging new parents to stay away.

"Do your infant a favor and get them a babysitter because no infant is going to enjoy being in a large venue with thousands of people, a lot of free-flowing germs, and extreme noise," wrote one.

Pol said parents should be free to make their own choices, adding that his sessions for basketball and for beach volleyball were for only three hours.

"If you've got the right equipment, an infant can cope very easily," he told AFP.

"All they need is to feel safe and be in the arms of their parents." 

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