Baguettes but no wine: Athletes to eat gourmet at 2024 Paris Olympics

Paris Olympic Rings

Some 15,000 athletes will get to feast on fresh baguettes, gourmet dishes and environment-friendly French cuisine — but no wine — when Paris hosts the Olympics next year.

The company tasked with serving 40,000 meals a day at the Olympic Village unveiled Tuesday some of the items on the menu of a sit-down restaurant that plans to serve food created by some of France’s most-renowned chefs.

Bringing a “fun, gourmet and healthy” touch to the plates is key to the job, said Alexandre Mazzia, whose AM restaurant in Marseille earned three Michelin guide stars. He presented a recipe made of crushed chickpeas with herbs and a smoked fish sauce.

Other chefs unveiled dishes that included an elaborate quinoa risotto and a chocolate mousse with raspberries.

“It’s a pride and an honor to be able to show French tradition and skills,” Mazzia told The Associated Press.

French food services company Sodexo was selected to oversee the catering at the athletes’ village and other sites of the Paris Games. The company was assigned the challenge of making the 2024 Olympics an occasion-appropriate opportunity to explore France’s legendary gastronomy.

“France will invite the world to its table,” said Philipp Würz, who is the catering manager for the Olympics organizing committee. Athletes “know they will eat well here. Our goal is to provide them with high quality food.”

The eatery at the Olympic Village, which is meant to be the “biggest restaurant in the world,” is expected to seat 3,500 people.

In addition, athletes will have access to “grab and go” food points, including one dedicated exclusively to French cuisine cooked up by chefs, Sodexo said.

“What I cooked here is poultry, guinea fowl slowly roasted with a nice crayfish jus, very reduced, very intense, with a ‘poulette’ sauce (white sauce), so it’s a kind of creamy, comfort food,” renowned chef Amandine Chaignot, who runs a Paris restaurant, explained.

“I wanted it to be a bit representative of what we do in France so it’s quite ‘gourmand,’” she said.

The Olympic Village also will feature a boulangerie producing French baguettes — recently given U.N. world heritage status — and other breads. Croissants and other pastries will also be available.

One exception will be made to the French way of life, though: No wine, or any form of alcohol, will be offered to Olympians in the village, organizers said. Champagne and liquors will be reserved for reception events.

Stéphane Chicheri, the chef for Sodexo’s venues and sporting events branch, said more than 500 menu items will be available to meet the needs of all sports, special diets, eating habits and religious beliefs.

Another challenge Paris 2024 organizers promised to meet is to make the Games more sustainable and environment-friendly.

In that regard, the main restaurant at the village will use only reusable serving dishes, according to Sodexo.

The company said all meals will be based on seasonal products, and plant-based food will represent one-third of the offerings at the Olympic Village.

All meat, milk products and eggs will be French-produced. Imported items, like bananas and rice, will all be organic or have fair trade certification, Sodexo said.

To avoid waste, goods not consumed will be given to food banks and associations. Food scraps will be turned into compost or used for biogas production, the company said.

Quality and diversity of food is important because athletes need to be reassured that they’ll find what they need to nourish their bodies, said Hélène Defrance, a competitive sailor who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics and now specializes in nutrition.

Still, organizers want the meals to be a convivial moment, in the pure French tradition.

“It’s not only the moment when we really feed our performances and get prepared for competition from a nutritional point of view,” Defrance said. “It’s also a moment when we regenerate and take a break, some time for exchanges, usually a pleasant moment.”

At his gastronomic restaurant in the southern city of Marseille, chef Mazzia is used to greeting many professional athletes, from kayakers and long-distance runners to judo practitioners and French and NBA basketball players.

“They are always surprised and happy with the moment they spent. I think I’ll meet some of them again during the Games, so that’s great,” he said.

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At the French Open, a Ukrainian mom makes her comeback

Elina Svitolina French Open

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, once the world’s third-ranked tennis player, is into the French Open third round in her first major tournament since childbirth.

Svitolina, 28, swept 2022 French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan of Italy, then beat Australian qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 32 at Roland Garros. She next plays 56th-ranked Russian Anna Blinkova, who took out the top French player, fifth seed Caroline Garcia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 on her ninth match point.

Svitolina’s husband, French player Gael Monfils, finished his first-round five-set win after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. She watched that match on a computer before going to sleep ahead of her 11 a.m. start Wednesday.

“This morning, he told me, ‘I’m coming to your match, so make it worth it,'” she joked on Tennis Channel. “I was like, OK, no pressure.

“I don’t know what he’s doing here now. He should be resting.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Svitolina made at least one major quarterfinal every year from 2017 through 2021, including the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019. She married Monfils one week before the Tokyo Olympics, then won a singles bronze medal.

Svitolina played her last match before maternity leave on March 24, 2022, one month after Russia invaded her country. She gave birth to daughter Skai on Oct. 15.

Svitolina returned to competition in April. Last week, she won the tournament preceding the French Open, sweeping Blinkova to improve to 17-3 in her career in finals. She’s playing on a protected ranking of 27th after her year absence and, now, on a seven-match win streak.

“It was always in my head the plan to come back, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself, because obviously with the war going on, with the pregnancy, you never know how complicated it will go,” she said. “I’m as strong as I was before, maybe even stronger, because I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court, and match by match I’m getting better. Also mentally, because mental can influence your physicality, as well.”

Svitolina said she’s motivated by goals to attain before she retires from the sport and to help Ukraine, such as donating her prize money from last week’s title in Strasbourg.

“These moments bring joy to people of Ukraine, to the kids as well, the kids who loved to play tennis before the war, and now maybe they don’t have the opportunity,” she said. “But these moments that can motivate them to look on the bright side and see these good moments and enjoy themselves as much as they can in this horrible situation.”

Svitolina was born in Odesa and has lived in Kharkiv, two cities that have been attacked by Russia.

“I talk a lot with my friends, with my family back in Ukraine, and it’s a horrible thing, but they are used to it now,” she said. “They are used to the alarms that are on. As soon as they hear something, they go to the bomb shelters. Sleepless nights. You know, it’s a terrible thing, but they tell me that now it’s a part of their life, which is very, very sad.”

Svitolina noted that she plays with a flag next to her name — unlike the Russians and Belarusians, who are allowed to play as neutral athletes.

“When I step on the court, I just try to think about the fighting spirit that all of us Ukrainians have and how Ukrainians are fighting for their values, for their freedom in Ukraine,” she said, “and me, I’m fighting here on my own front line.”

Svitolina said that she’s noticed “a lot of rubbish” concerning how tennis is reacting to the war.

“We have to focus on what the main point of what is going on,” she said. “Ukrainian people need help and need support. We are focusing on so many things like empty words, empty things that are not helping the situation, not helping anything.

“I want to invite everyone to focus on helping Ukrainians. That’s the main point of this, to help kids, to help women who lost their husbands because they are at the war, and they are fighting for Ukraine.

“You can donate. Couple of dollars might help and save lives. Or donate your time to something to help people.”

Also Wednesday, 108th-ranked Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis ousted three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in four and a half hours. Wawrinka’s exit leaves Novak Djokovic as the lone man in the draw who has won the French Open and Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz as the lone men left who have won any major.

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Marcell Jacobs still sidelined, misses another race with Fred Kerley

Marcell Jacobs

Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy will miss another scheduled clash with world 100m champion Fred Kerley, withdrawing from Friday’s Diamond League meet in Florence.

Jacobs, 28, has not recovered from the nerve pain that forced him out of last Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco, according to Italy’s track and field federation.

In his absence, Kerley’s top competition will be fellow American Trayvon Bromell, the world bronze medalist, and Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, the world’s fastest man this year at 9.84 seconds. Kerley beat both of them in Rabat.

The Florence Diamond League airs live on Peacock on Friday from 2-4 p.m. ET.

Jacobs has withdrawn from six scheduled head-to-heads with Kerley dating to May 2022 due to a series of health issues since that surprise gold in Tokyo.

Kerley, primarily a 400m sprinter until the Tokyo Olympic year, became the world’s fastest man in Jacobs’ absence. He ran a personal best 9.76 seconds, the world’s best time of 2022, at last June’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Then he led a U.S. sweep of the medals at July’s worlds.

Jacobs’ next scheduled race is a 100m at the Paris Diamond League on June 9. Kerley is not in that field, but world 200m champion Noah Lyles is.

The last time the reigning Olympic and world men’s 100m champions met in a 100m was the 2012 London Olympic final between Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. From 2013 to 2017, Bolt held both titles, then retired in 2017 while remaining reigning Olympic champion until Jacobs’ win in Tokyo, where Kerley took silver.

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