PARIS — French financial police Tuesday morning searched the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics as part of an investigation into the awarding of public contracts.

In an internal email to staff seen by POLITICO, the organizing committee said searches were carried out by “teams from the criminal police and the public prosecutor” who are “collecting documents.”

The prospect of potential corruption involving contracts could deliver a reputational knock to French President Emmanuel Macron, who has stressed to his ministers the importance of a successful Paris Olympics, which were awarded to the French capital in July 2017, a few months after he was first elected.

In March, Macron said the Paris Games’ goal should aim to “welcome the world in the best possible conditions of safety, organization, social and ecological responsibility.”

In a statement, Paris 2024 said: “A police search is currently underway at the headquarters of the Organising Committee. Paris 2024 is cooperating fully with the investigators to facilitate their investigations.”

Contacted by POLITICO, the French financial prosecutor (PNF) confirmed raids were taking place in “several locations,” including at the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics Committee as well as those of Solideo, the public body in charge of the Paris Olympics’ construction sites.

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The raids are part of two “preliminary investigations” over suspicions of misappropriation of public funds and favoritism regarding several public contracts awarded by both Solideo and the Paris 2024 Olympics Committee.

The Cabinet of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo — who is also the president of Solideo’s board — told POLITICO that investigators had not been in touch with her at this stage.

The headquarters of several private companies who have been awarded public contracts were also being searched on Tuesday, the PNF said.

“We are aware that there has been a search by police of the Paris 2024 headquarters today. We have been informed by Paris 2024, that they are cooperating fully with the authorities in this matter and we would refer you to them for further information,” an International Olympic Committee spokesperson said.

Brigitte Henriques, the president of the French National Olympic Committee, dramatically announced her resignation last month after infighting left the committee in turmoil.

The Olympic Games — one of the world’s premier sporting events — has been overshadowed by organizational misconduct in the recent past. Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Olympics were marred by scandal, in which a top Japanese advertising executive was arrested on multiple charges of accepting bribes from officials at other companies.

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As a result, Paris 2024 was the first Olympics to have an anti-corruption policy for the Games’ organization, in a partnership with Transparency International.

But in 2021, the French anti-corruption agency warned there were risks of “conflicts of interests” within the Paris Olympics Committee and Solideo, citing “imprecise, incomplete” procedures which were “insufficiently respected and monitored.”

The Paris 2024 Games are scheduled to take place from July 26 to August 11.

This story has been updated.




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