On the construction sites of the Paris Olympics, undocumented workers left behind

Emmanuel Macron promised that preparations for the Summer Olympics would be carried out in the best possible safety conditions, without accidents on construction sites and without the scandals linked to the exploitation of migrant workers which had marred the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. A few months before the opening of the Paris Games, the Head of State announced that the contract had been fulfilled.

“The commitments we made, we kept them”, he proclaimed in February. Official figures show less than 200 injuries on the Olympic sites during a four-year marathon project. Without any deaths.

However, inspection reports and other documents show that the construction sites were more dangerous than the organizers wanted to say, with some failing to meet basic safety requirements. When illegal workers were injured, say workers and union delegates, the accidents were generally managed on the sly and therefore did not appear in official statistics.

Unrecorded accidents

It has even happened that fatal accidents involving legally hired workers do not appear in the accounts of Olympic construction sites.

Thus, when two workers were killed on a metro site, which Macron’s former Minister of Transport (Clément Beaune) nevertheless described as “Games lifeline”, their deaths were not included in the final count.

When a truck crushed a worker who was working on the construction site of a wastewater storage basin (to enable swimming events in the Seine), his death was not recorded either. “Administratively speaking, it was classified in another category,” explains Paul Duphil, secretary general of the OPPBTP, the organization responsible for ensuring the safety of Games sites.

The explanation lies in the State’s definition of an “Olympic site”. Thus, accidents occurring in the Olympic Village are counted, but not those at the Pleyel Tower, a neighboring skyscraper converted into a luxury hotel during the Games. The “media village” projects are taken into account, but not the construction of an XXL pedestrian bridge which, according to the municipality, is nevertheless located “at the heart of the Olympic project”.

And in a profession where accidents are almost inevitable, France’s record sometimes seems too good to be true: the city of Marseille ensures New York Times that there was not the slightest injury – even slight – during the two years that the dredging and construction of the Olympic marina, which will host the sailing events in the Mediterranean, lasted.

“France is not Qatar”

For workers, union officials and certain ins

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