Winning logistics gold: Olympic Games Paris 2024

While the focus has been on the athletes and the exciting count down to the games of the 33rd Olympiad, one team has been busy behind the scenes, ensuring everything is in its place. From huge containers of hi-tech audio-visual equipment to boxes of coffee mugs, every detail counts. Here’s how this mammoth task has all unfolded.

When the CMA CGM Greenland sailed into the Old Port of Marseille to join in welcoming the Olympic torch to France, it was a huge day for the games, but it was also a triumphant moment for the shipping company, marking a step closer to its own finish line.

By the time the global sporting event opens at the end of July, CMA CGM’s subsidiary, CEVA Logistics, will have moved more than 1.3 million items of furniture and almost a million pieces of sporting equipment, just a few of the tasks involved in producing an event of this magnitude.

Awarded the title of official logistics partner for the 2024 summer Olympics in Paris, CEVA began planning more than three years ago.

CEVA Logistics’ CEO, Mathieu Friedberg, told the media in April that the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games would represent a pivotal moment to demonstrate the company’s know-how, and the solutions provider has been providing regular updates on what that moment entails.

CEVA’s mission has included freight services, international transport, customs clearance, storage, delivery, site logistics, special freight and IT system integration. The pressure is certainly on with 10,500 athletes counting on a seamless event, and 10 million spectators watching every moment.

When the CEVA team sat down to decide the best way to tackle the event, they quickly realised that one of the first tasks would be establishing warehouses in Paris with enough space to accommodate the Olympic organising committee.

Three logistics platforms of more than 80,000 metres squared were then eventually established in the region, one of which allowed for reception, storage, preparation and customs clearance of goods and equipment from the Games’ Organizing Committee and staff.

Image: Florence Piot/

Another of the Paris sites hosts furniture, athletes’ sports equipment, medical equipment and other goods, while the third is used to store additional logistics for the transition and dismantling phases of the Olympic and Paralympic sites. There is also additional storage available in Tahiti, which is hosting the surfing competition.

“We have prepared our operations to manage a broad spectrum of items, encompassing furniture, broadcast materials, medical and sports equipment. There are tens of millions of items projected to be in our inventory – including more than 100,000 chairs, 15,000 beds, and numerous other products,” the company said in one of its early media updates.

Transport involved in the event setup has included ocean, air, road, rail and even river transport.
Event mobility is also CEVA’s responsibility, with more than 650 advanced mobility vehicles and almost 3000 electric vehicles assembled and stored.

CMA CGM said it would be leveraging its transport and logistics solutions, powered by LNG, biofuels, electricity or sustainable fuels, as well as barge transport for intra-city deliveries, to reduce the carbon impact.
Once the events – both the Olympics and Paralympics – have finally drawn to a close and the celebrations have died down,

CEVA employees still won’t be done. With every assembly comes disassembly and, in many cases, items that were delivered will need to be transported back to where they came from.

Olympic logistics by numbers

  • Delivered 900,000+ pieces of sporting including trampolines, boats and weapons.
  • Transported 1.3 million items of furniture, fixtures and fittings.
  • Moved 115,000+ pallets.
  • Managed 60,000+ pieces of airport luggage.
  • Organised 250 containers of bleachers and mobile seating.
  • Driven more than 300 various sized vehicles.
  • Assembled 17,000 athlete beds.
  • Supported 180,000 staff members including 700 event specific hires.

Passing the torch
Along with providing logistic solutions for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympics, CEVA was also a technical partner for the games’ Torch Relay, an iconic event that requires painstaking planning and flawless execution.

Carried aboard Europe’s oldest three-masted ship, the Belem, the Olympic Torch departed Greece at the end of April bound for Marseille.

Image: CEVA Logistics.

CEVA’s primary role in the relay was to transport supplies to several destinations on the torch’s tour, which included gas bottles, butane, propane, paraffin, lanterns and even uniforms for the torch bearers.

The next step in the journey involved moving that cargo to French territories of Réunion, French Guiana, Tahiti, Martinique and Guadeloupe. Crucial planning was needed so the delivery of each container aligned with the local torch relay celebrations and the arrival of the torch itself at each destination.

One of the biggest challenges, the company said, was transporting items considered to be “dangerous goods,” as they involved a multitude of safety rules and transport regulations, varying at each port. Geopolitical factors and unrest in certain jurisdictions also added to the need for meticulous planning.

While the cargo volume for each offshore destination could have fit into a standard 12-metre container, CEVA split each load into two six-metre shipping containers, to separate goods that couldn’t safely be transported together.

This solution also allowed for more efficient return shipping because, after each of torch relay celebration, a majority of the goods were donated locally, and CEVA then only needed to ship one of the two containers back to mainland France. This solution reduced the weight and overall carbon footprint of the shipment.

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