There’s still more than a year left until the Paris 2024 Olympic games kick off in France. (And a few weeks before tickets go on sale.) But for sports-obsessed travelers, there’s a way to attend the games for free: by applying to be a volunteer.
Volunteers are needed for tasks like guiding spectators to the stands, welcoming athletes to the Athletes’ Village, transporting competitors and officials to and from venues in minibuses or cars, installing starting blocks at the track and field events, collecting tennis balls, as well as distributing equipment like radios, headsets, and uniforms. Approximately 45,000 volunteers need to be recruited for each Olympics, with organizing committees launching their search about two years before each event.
Applications can be submitted now through May 3, 2023. The organizing committee will review the applications over the summer and applicants will be notified of whether or not they were assigned a volunteering position between September and December 2023.
Here’s what else you need to know about applying to be a volunteer at the Paris 2024 games.
Requirements to apply
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old on January 1, 2024, to be able to apply. Secondly, they also must be able to legally travel to France during the games. Although U.S. citizens will need a passport to enter France, they do not need a visa as tourists and are permitted to stay for a maximum of 90 days. (Keep in mind that the European Travel Information and Authorization System [ETIAS] is slated to launch in 2024, at which point, all U.S. citizens traveling to France will need to register with ETIAS or risk being turned away at the border.)
Since French and English are the official languages of the games, volunteers are required to be fluent in at least one of them. (Tests are available in the application to determine proficiency levels but aren’t required.)
Bonus skills that could help your application
Though most volunteer roles do not require specific skills, some roles require additional foreign language skills, a driver’s license, or significant knowledge of a sporting discipline. The application process includes sections to address these extra skills, so volunteers can be matched accordingly with appropriate roles. For example, volunteers with a diploma and three years of experience in a specific field like horse healthcare will likely be assigned to volunteer at the equestrian events taking place in Versailles.
Timing and location
Volunteers will be needed between the opening of the Athletes’ Village on July 12, 2024, through September 10, 2024, which is two days after the Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony. Volunteers do not need to be available during that entire time, but priority will be given to those who can commit to at least 10 days’ worth of volunteering within that two-month window.
If interested applicants don’t have availability during summer 2024, the games are also looking for volunteers to help out at test events that will take place between July 2023 and May 2024.
Prospective volunteers will also be asked to indicate which regions they’ll be able to travel to, since the Paris 2024 games won’t take place only in Paris itself. Venues are located throughout mainland France in destinations including Bordeaux, Châteauroux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, and Saint-Etienne. (The surfing competitions will take place in Tahiti, which is a French overseas territory.) To help applicants choose specific locations, the games have put together a map of the different geographical clusters.
What’s not included
Volunteers will be able to enter the events that they’re assigned to work for free. However, there’s no guarantee about attending specific events or matches.
“Helping out behind the scenes and being a spectator at the Games are two very different experiences,” the volunteer website says. “If you have your heart set on attending competitions, your best bet is to buy a ticket and enjoy all the action from the stands.”
Additionally, the games do not cover travel costs to get to France or accommodations for volunteers during their assignments. (Local public transportation and meals will be free for volunteers on days they are working at the games or training for their roles.)
How to apply online
The actual application takes about 30 to 45 minutes to complete online at paris2024.org. Once the application is started, it’s possible to hit save and come back later to complete it.
The first part of the application involves gathering personal information (email, name, phone number, birth date, and country of residence) as well as questions about any applicable skills and availability. At this point, applicants will be prompted to pick between the two volunteer programs. The Paris 2024 application is for those looking to volunteer in and around official Games venues (these roles can be viewed here). The other application is a more general volunteer role for the City of Paris, which involves working in public spaces in Paris to help guide visitors while they visit other landmarks and cultural destinations.
The second part is a role-matching exercise with 180 rapid fire questions that takes about 20 minutes to complete to be able to figure out what tasks people are best suited for as a volunteer at the games. Questions are more personality based than skill based, so it’s likely trying to determine if potential volunteers are friendly extroverts who will excel working directly with spectators at events or have highly organized minds and are best suited for operational tasks like distributing gear.
Rather just buy tickets to the Olympics? Here’s how
Now through April 20, 2023, it’s possible to sign up for the draw for single tickets for all events, including finals and the opening and closing ceremonies. (Dates and prices of events are available online before the draw is announced.) Starting May 9, 2023, emails will go out notifying people if they won the draw. That email will include a time slot (within the next two days) to purchase tickets during a 48-hour window.